Port Arthur Tasmania
"A haunted castle stooped in convict history!"
Port Arthur Tasmania is a great day trip from Hobart and I'd encourage you to go.
In essence Port Arthur used to be a prison and is now a museum that brings to life the lives of convicts, as well as the crime and punishment that went on, at what is Tasmania's most famous convict site.
The building itself is beautiful and is set in amazing grounds. There really is enough to do and see here to spend at least half a day here.
It's a great way to understand some Tasmania history too.
Getting There and Entry Costs
Port Arthur Tasmania is about 60km East of Hobart so the drive is certainly manageable.
You can also pick up organised day trips from Hobart if you don't want to hire a car whilst you are there (although I'd recommend having a car to get about and see more of Tasmania)
Cost of entry really depends on how much time you want to spend here but I can tell you that there is heaps to do here so don't underestimate the time you need:
If you want to spend half a day here then go for the bronze pass - this gives you access to all the buildings and includes a river cruise too. Cost approx $30
If you fancy staying longer and really getting a deeper understanding of the prison and the stories of the convicts etc then you can go for a silver pass - this is the one for you if you want to spend most of the day here as it includes lunch and an audio tour. Cost Approx $70
For the hard core ones amongst you, go for the gold pass as this gives you access to everything over a 2 day period, includes some food and access to a few other areas. Cost approx $100
I'd think about what time you want to get here and what you want to do. The ghost tours start at 6.30pm or 8.30pm and cost approx an extra $22.
I'd get here at lunchtime and spend the afternoon here looking round and then do a ghost tour at 6.30pm. You are probably best to book this bit in advance as I think they limit the numbers.
The ghost tours are great for older kids and adults alike!
What's good about arriving at lunch time is that you can enjoy a leisurely drive from Hobart and stop off at a few places along the way. There is certainly a Tasmanian Devil park nearby and we certainly got carried away along the way and then didn't leave ourselves enough time at Port Arthur.
History of Port Arthur Tasmania
Port Arthur was essentially the prison that the worst criminals in Australia came to - these were convicts that had been shipped over from England and Ireland and had then re-offended.
It was a prison from 1833 to 1853.
Its location - pretty much surrounded by shark infested waters (!), meant that it was said to be a prison that you couldn't escape from.
Of course there are those who tried. Many failed but some did succeed.
One funny story that you'll learn about at Port Arthur is a man who dressed up as a kangaroo and tried to escape that way. The guards however never got enough food either so tried to shoot the "kangaroo" for food. The convict in question quickly surrendered and was taken back to the prison!
The methods of crime and punishment at Port Arthur were also different to many other penal institutions at the time. They chose to go for more psychological methods of punishment rather than physical ones.
So for example they would reward well behaved convicts with additional food and only give bread and water to the badly behaved ones.
They would also put hoods over their faces and make them sit in silence to contemplate their actions - they now think this did more harm than good!
Overall this museum is well done with heaps of interactive parts and you can easily spend a day here.
What About the Ghosts at Port Arthur Tasmania?
Do you believe in ghosts or are you a bit cynical?
Having been to Port Arthur Tasmania, I'm now a believer.
There have been so many sitings of ghosts here, strange screaming, rocking chairs rocking with no-one in them etc etc that it seems possible that there may be ghosts at Port Arthur!
The ghost tours are a good mix of information and fun - the guides are always trying to make you jump. They guide you round with a lantern which definitely adds to the experience.
Some of the photos that have been taken with strange ghost like figures in the background are also there for all to see - real ghosts are just some camera malfunction - you be the judge!
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