Port Arthur, Tasmania

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Port Arthur, Tasmania

Postby Dellycat » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:35 am

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:34 pm

Historic Convict Settlement

On April 28, 1996, the relative quiet of Australia's Port Arthur in the Tasman Peninsula — roughly 90 minutes by car from the city centre of Hobart in the southern Australian island state of Tasmania — was broken by gunfire. Before day's end, 35 lay dead on the historic grounds of Port Arthur. A Tasmanian named Martin Bryant had etched a trail of blood, firing at shopkeepers, shop assistants, tourists, and whoever else came in his way...

Once again, the soil of Port Arthur was bloodied — now, in contemporary times, and by a deranged gunman. From the 1830s to the 1870s, this was the place they called "hell on earth," where the recidivist convicts of a past era lived and died

Convict chain gangs
In 1830 Port Arthur was a timber station, but hardly three years later, because it was hemmed in by the sea and access by land was solely through a tiny isthmus at Eaglehawk Neck, it became a prison settlement where the worst of the convicts were thrown, sentenced to work in chain gangs.

Flogging became a way of life — 100 lashes being the normal punishment for instance for attempts to escape the penal settlement.

The prison closed in 1877, and during the next two decades the penitentiary and the church were gutted by fire.

An attempt was made to erase its convict past by renaming the town Carnarvon, but by 1927 the town was again called Port Arthur.

Well-ordered tours
Eventually, the erstwhile convict settlement became a site of significance in the history, not only of Tasmania, but of Australia as a whole. It has become one of Tasmania's most prominent tourist destinations.

Today, the spirits of the long past and the recent past seem to steep the 40 hectares of the Port Arthur Historic Site as visitors trudge its paths and view stabilised ruins and carefully restored buildings, experiencing how once — or twice — it must have been when Port Arthur was a hell on earth.

There's a ghost tour, too
There are guided tours of the area, which is a good way to cover the site in an orderly fashion. As well, there is the Historic Ghost Tour which is held after nightfall when the dark covers the land and the ghosts of the past may just be about.

http://goaustralia.about.com/cs/tassigh ... arthur.htm

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