Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

22-Nov-2007
   

We left Hobart and set off east to Port Arthur. This place is infamous for a couple of reasons; it is located on a peninsular which is separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of land called Eaglehawk Neck. In 1830, this made it an ideal location for a penal colony. Prisoners who were sentenced to transportation to Van Diemens Land probably ended up here. Many of the fine buildings were destroyed by bush fires in the late 1800's but a few remain standing and some have been restored. All the buildings were built by the prisoners.

Port Arthur Prison

Port Arthur Prison
Cells in Port Arthur Prison

There was quite an industry here with everything from ships to shoes being produced. There were several types of convict, some were trusted and worked on farms but others were doomed to years in chains. This is what it looks like in one of the cell blocks.

Cell Block at Port Arthur

It was a hard life and drove some of the inmates nuts so an asylum was built.

Port Arthur Asylum

The Asylum
Small house

Here are some of the other buildings:

Small house at Port Arthur

Another Port Arthur house Port Arthur House
To prevent escapes, the narrow strip of land that joined the peninsular to the mainland had a line of ferocious dogs chained up so the escapees had to choose between the dogs or the shark infested waters. There weren't many successful escapes.
The other reason Port Arthur is infamous is that it was the location of the Port Arthur Massacre. On the 28th April 1996, a single gunman killed 35 people and wounded many others. Port Arthur is a very small settlement and most families were affected in some way by the incident.
Masked Plover

Today's wildlife report. . . We have seen these birds in most places that we have visited in Australia, they are called Masked Plover. They usually go around in pairs and stand about 30cm tall.

Masked Plover

In the evening we had a visit by a couple of these friendly creatures. We think they it's either a bandicoot or a poteroo. Any ideas anyone? It had a white tip to its tail and was about 25cm long.

Bandicoot

Bandicoot