Today, after a night of listening to the constant slamming of doors throughout the night, we ventured out into the chilly Hobart morning to meet our tour bus for the day.
Our guide and bus driver, a lovely local Tasmanian chock full of Dad jokes, filled out ears with plenty of convict information on our hour and three quarter drive down the penninsula to the historic site of Port Arthur penal colony.
It was my third time there; I went twice with a school trip — a tour during the day and then that night for a ghost tour which has actually scarred me for life (sorry lovely ghost tour lady!) — and it was so much better than I remember it.
Any one who knows me, even a little bit, knows that I am a super history nerd and this played right into my hands. We began our Port Arthur visit with a 40 minute walking tour of the grounds. I found this beneficial in terms of getting your bearings. The Port Arthur settlement is actually quite big! Bring your walking boots! The tour gave us some great stories from the convict days and a general gist of what life was like when all of the buildings you see around you were in use.
After the tour, we began to explore on our own, strolling the remains of buildings like the church, government cottage and the penitentiary and the other buildings in pristine condition llike the commandant’s cottage and other little cottages dotted throughout the settlement.
In the middle of exploring time came out boat cruise. We stood out on the upper deck for twenty minutes as we drifted out into the harbour and around a small island called The Isle of the Dead — this is where all of the convicts, soldiers and officials who lived on the settlement were buried. You can see the headstones from the boat!
At 3pm, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Port Arthur, and make the trip back home. It wasn’t without perks, though, because we stopped at two natural geological anomalies in the Tasman National Park called Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen where we saw the penninsula at its finest.
Lesson for today: consider buying a house near Port Arthur to enable historical obsession.