Port Arthur in Autumn

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.

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This is the church.

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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.

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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.

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These are the old sleeping quarters of the convicts. They were quite cramped spaces.

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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.

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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.

Bushfires Raging all Around.

What a way to start a new year. It is hard to believe that after such a quite and restful ride into 2013, we were suddenly confronted with ferocious bush fires in our home state of Tasmania, only to see similar bush fires start to pop up on Mainland Australia as well.

The devastation caused by such a natural disaster is incredible. However the sheer terror at the realisation that the Forcett fire – in the Southern part of the state of Tasmania – in the area of the Tasman Peninsula  – meant that the only way in or out through the peninsula (other than by boat) was cut off to people trying to flee the ferocious fires was scary. This was obvious, but definitely shocking, as one never really thinks about this until faced with it directly in your line of sight.

For those people, families and pets trapped on the Peninsula during the bushfire that still is active today, I can only imagine what you are going through. Only imagine the pain, agony and despair at having lost everything which has happened to many people. I can only imagine the joy and happiness you must feel to be alive and have survived this great tragedy.

To date their are no reports of deaths due to the bushfire on the peninsula, even though over a hundred homes, businesses, and a school have been destroyed. Yet their are tales of survival, hope, loss and grief.

For us here living in a safer part of Tasmania, it has brought tears to our home, for people we know who have lost everything as well as tears for people who we do not know who have lost everything. It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions as friends find out their house survived against the odds as all other houses around them perished and other people we knew living a few streets away lost everything.

The community spirit that came alive at the beginning of this disaster that continues to shine through now is amazing. I am so proud to be a Tasmanian. As a home educator, we are working together with the wider Tasmanian Home Educating community to help out a fellow family who lost everything to the bush fires except themselves. Their home is completely gone, all their possession have gone up in smoke, but they are all alive and together, which is all that matters.

So as we rally around to offer them support and others too – who have been hardest hit by this disaster, we thank the wider universe for the good in our lives, for keeping us and everyone else safe in trying times, while we wait for the disaster to be over and for harmony to fall once again on our lovely state.

Blessings

Image of the Forcett Bushfire, Tasmania.

 

 

Port Arthur – January 2012

During the summer holidays (and at other times throughout the year), Port Arthur has many hands on activities happening around the place.

This year they had the following hands on activities happening (and many more) when we visited on Australia Day…

  • A series of three Historical Plays – The Man Who Threw a Stone, The Shingle Strike and A Boy’s Life 
  • Carved in Stone: the stonemasons who built Port Arthur
  • Port Arthur Beneath Your Feet 
  • Unearthed! Archaeology at Port Arthur 
  • Gardens of Exile 
  • Discover Port Arthur’s Furry and Feathered Fiends 
  • A 30 minute harbour cruise aboard the MV Marana

We enjoyed the Harbour Cruise, one of the historical plays and the beneath your feet archaeology at Port Arthur as well as roaming around the grounds looking at all the historical buildings and reading all the information provided.

We would have loved to have been able to see all three of the plays. The children especially, as they very much enjoyed ‘The Shingle Strike‘ and asked to see more of the plays. With so much to see and do at Port Arthur we did not get time to do everything even though we arrived at 10.30 and and never left until well after 7pm. It is amazing, but no matter how many times we go there we are always able to find something new and interesting to see and do, just like this time when we learnt about the young convict Leonard Hand

We have promised though – to return next time DJ is staying with us, so that we can experience more of Port Arthur and what it has to offer and hopefully see some more plays, join in some more activities and also go on the Ghost Tour, which the children also asked about so so so many times, throughout the day.

Thankfully we purchased aTicket of Leave‘ so can return as many times as we like over the next 2 years without paying again!