Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Port Arthur 17 January 2008

After a lovely long bush walk around the Coal Mine site we drove around to Port Arthur. The whole peninsular was more attractive than we expected with pretty farms, bays and trees. Arriving in Port Arthur, we decided to take a site at a local caravan park as this was big tourist attraction and it would be hard to free camp in the area. We settled the motorhome in a pretty site and made our way to the big tourist machine not knowing what to expect. We hadn’t realised how many convicts (69,000) went to Tasmania compared to other states – and often the most recalcitrant and troublesome ones. Port Arthur was a self contained British settlement with a strict hierarchy and a very systematic (and often harsh) approach, designed to reduce the prisoners to compliant servants. Nevertheless, as well as the many instances of extreme cruelty, there were many innovative and experimental attempts to reform the convicts.

While many buildings were destroyed, enough remains to give an indication of what it would have been like for the convicts and we were very impressed by the way the historical site was presented with a mixture of restored and original buildings.
A number of the grander homes have been renovated and furnished, vegetable gardens recreated including hens, fountains and garden ornaments. The grounds were really attractive with lovely old walnut, pear, pine and oak trees that helped recreate the past.
We enjoyed re-enactment plays professionally presented, modern museum displays, a harbour cruise and a visit to The Island of the Dead (cemetery) - overall LOTS to do and see! We could easily imagine it all and were interested enough to walk our little legs off for 2 days. The setting is amazingly beautiful and, more amazingly, is still as remote as it was in the beginning. The entry fee of $25 is interesting to compare to the same fee at Uluru.


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