Port Arthur Historic Site: Penal Colony and Ghosts of the Past


Located on the Tasman Peninsula, approximately 60 kilometres south-east of Hobart, the Port Arthur Historic Site is one of Australia’s most significant heritage areas and an essential part of any cultural tour of Tasmania.

Founded in 1830, Port Arthur was initially a timber station but soon evolved into the most dreaded penal colony in Australia. Today, the site serves as a physical chronicle of a dramatic part of Australia’s history. It offers visitors a compelling insight into the country’s past, particularly the harsh realities of the convict era.

As an open-air museum, the Historic Site spreads over 40 hectares and includes more than 30 buildings, ruins, and restored period homes set in beautifully landscaped grounds. Some of the most notable structures include the iconic Penitentiary, the Hospital, the Asylum, the Convict Church, and the Separate Prison.

Visitors can explore the site with expert guides, join one of the many tours, or take a leisurely stroll at their own pace. The guided tours provide an understanding of the history and significance of the site and the living conditions of the convicts. They share stories of hardship, survival, and hope that shaped the lives of thousands of men, women, and children who lived and died here.

Apart from day tours, the Historic Site also offers night tours, including the famous Ghost Tours. Under the cover of darkness, you can explore the site’s reputedly most haunted locations, including the Separate Prison and the Parsonage.

In addition, the Port Arthur Historic Site offers a range of activities for all ages, such as the Lottery of Life interactive game and the Museum Experience, which hosts the Convict Study Centre and the Convict Water Supply Trail.

The Port Arthur Historic Site is not just a place of punishment; it is a testament to endurance and the human spirit. It is a significant piece of history that provides a poignant look into Tasmania’s past and should not be missed.


  1. Port Arthur Historic Site – https://portarthur.org.au/
  2. Port Arthur Daytime Tours – https://portarthur.org.au/tour/daytime-tours/
  3. Port Arthur Ghost Tours – https://portarthur.org.au/tour/ghost-tours/
  4. Activities at Port Arthur – https://portarthur.org.au/activity/

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