A few days ago we visited Port Arthur with some friends. Port Arthur is a UNESCO heritage site located on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania. It is a penal settlement used for the convicts. The convicts were criminals from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
This is the church.
A lot of these buildings were destroyed by fire, and what is left of Port Arthur nowadays, is just a small amount of what it used to be.
This path leads past the Guard Tower, which overlooks the bay in which Port Arthur is built around. The tower to the left of the picture is part of the Guard Tower.
These are the old sleeping quarters of the convicts. They were quite cramped spaces.
Although what happened at Port Arthur isn’t the nicest story,
visiting Port Arthur in autumn can bring some great photo
opportunities, as shown above.
This picture looks back on the Penitentiary, which is the main building in Port Arthur.
Many free settlers, which were people who had come to
Tasmania (known as Van Diemens Land back in the day) of their own free will, lived all around Tasmania.
If convicts could serve their sentence of 7 years without causing any trouble,
they got a ‘Ticket of Leave’ and were able to leave Port Arthur and become settlers.
If they were caught breaking the law after they left, they would be brought back to Port Arthur.
Convicts tried many times to escape, and some were successful for a little while, and some weren’t successful at all. Port Arthur’s location was chosen well. It is surrounded on all sides by water, and the only way to get off is by this small strip of land called Eaglehawk Neck. It was small enough that soldiers could chain one dog on one side of the strip of land, and another dog on the other. They were kept far enough apart that they couldn’t attack each other, but close enough that no one could get through. The only other way to get out was to swim, and the majority of the convicts couldn’t swim.
A lot of convicts were brought here for the crime, which was a serious offence back then, of stealing a loaf of bread. Other offences included stealing fabrics, stealing livestock, stealing clothing, and housebreaking.