Originally founded in 1830 as a timber station, Port Arthur fast became a penal colony for some of the worst convicts and repeat offenders in Australia. Banished to what must have seemed the end of the world, this prison was strict and unforgiving. If you were a well behaved prisoner you got to build ships! In order for the site to be vaguely profitable, other prisoners were put to work in the timber yard, flour mill, or as carpenters, blacksmiths and shoemakers.
The creepiest part of the site was the Separate prison, which ushered in a new regime replacing physical punishment with psychological punishment. Basically, if you were super naughty, this is where you got stashed away, in complete isolation, to dwell on all your bad life choices. There was no speaking, no interaction between in-mates, and limited exercise time to be done all alone. Understandably, this made some of the prisoners go crazy, luckily they had built the asylum right next door!
Port Arthur ceased operation as a prison in 1877.
This was my favourite building of all, doesn't it look super cute like a koala?!
We also went on the ghost tour when it was appropriately dark and spooky! ooohhhhhhh.
Unfortunately, I didn't see any ghosts, but our guide gave a fascinating history of some of the many hauntings that have occurred over the last 140 years. She also knew how to tell a good story, and every-one on the tour had a great time.
So yes! Port Arthur! I would recommend a visit, and that's what I learnt this week!