Discover the dark history of this former colonial outpost on the Tasman Peninsula, where eerie penal ruins contrast with the coastline’s superb natural beauty.
Some of Tasmania’s most nightmarish tales originated in Port Arthur, a quaint village with a forbidding past perched on the tip of the Tasman Peninsula. Explore the town to find preserved relics from Australia’s brutal convict history, including the crumbling ruins of a sandstone prison, coal mines and an evocative museum. Discover the town’s dramatic coastline when you visit its geological wonders and oceanfront vistas.
The town’s key attraction is the Port Arthur Historic Site, a significant World Heritage site comprising of over 30 buildings and ruins across 100 acres (40 hectares) of landscaped estate. Established in 1830, the penal colony earned a reputation for hellish conditions over its 47 years of operation. Learn the dark tales of life as a convict as you explore solitary-confinement cells and restored period homes. Go on a cruise to the burial grounds at the Isle of the Dead, check out the Point Puer Boys Prison or return in the evening for a Ghost Tour. The museum offers an in-depth insight into the convict experience.
Port Arthur is situated amid some of Tasmania’s most striking coastal landscapes. Visit fascinating sites, such as Remarkable Cave or Crescent Bay. This sweeping arch of sand has a backdrop of immense dunes and can be reached via a pleasant walking trail from the cave. Another popular hike links two geological wonders on the coast, the Totem Pole and the Candlestick. Go on a cruise to see these fascinating “sea stacks” from the waters surrounding Cape Hauy. Snap photographs from the viewing platform at the Maingon Bay Lookout.
Outside of the township, experience more local history at the Coal Mines Historic Site. Stroll around the trails and find a series of convict relics and scenic viewpoints. Breathe in the sweet floral aroma at the Port Arthur Lavender Farm and pick up fantastic homemade lavender products.
Port Arthur is located on the southern edge of the Tasman Peninsula and is approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Hobart. The town has a range of accommodations, including holiday cottages. Add the town to your road-trip itinerary or join a tour of the magnificent peninsula.