A few weeks back I told you that one of the main reasons why we were going back to Tasmania was to use our Ticket of Leave cards at the Port Arthur Historic Site. So when we planned our trip we decided that this time we would spend a couple of days down there, and on one, go to the site. We left it for the end of the trip and headed there on a day of variable weather.
Before we left for Tasmania we knew we had two days to spend in Port Arthur. We had planned all along to go to the Port Arthur Historical Site, but that still left a day with nothing to do. While researching things to do in Port Arthur we found information on the Tasman Island boat cruise run by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. It wasn’t the first boat cruise I have done with them, last year I did one around Bruny Island which was fantastic. We booked in to do the cruise the first full day we were in Port Arthur. So glad we did as the following day rained on and off all day.
Last year my friend and I went to Tasmania, back in June. We loved it, but with only 10 days we really didn’t see a lot. Though I suppose that is always what happens when you go away. On one of our last days there we went to the old convict penitentiary at Port Arthur. Such a fascinating place, but we spent so much time doing all the tours we didn’t have enough time to look around. We found out that you could buy a Ticket of Leave for $10 which meant that you could come back anytime in the following two years, so we both got them. Here is mine.
It has been over a month now since I went to Tasmania and there are still many photos that I would like to process more, but time seems to be against me right now. I thought today I might give you another look at some that I did while there. A look back on the trip.
One thing that both my friend and I were sure about is that we wanted to go in winter. People said we were crazy, but to me it seemed like the ideal time to go.
I guess the big question is was it? Yes, I think so. The only thing that was bad was the rain really. The east coast of Australia was battered with storms and rain at the start of our journey there. While it did flood in parts of the state, it didn’t where we were, we did get quite a bit of rain. For the first half of the trip we hardly saw the sun. That wasn’t a bad thing and I do quite like many of the images that I got.
First time there
Being the first time anywhere means that you really don’t know what you are going to be in for. If I went back to some of the places, there are things I would do differently. I would plan to go at different times of the day. When you haven’t been somewhere before it is often hard to cage when the best time is. I have to look on the trip as a good scouting trip and next time plan things better.
Next time I would do more research myself about places. I really regretted not knowing more about Queenstown. I would have loved to have spent more time there.
Ten days was not enough time and we are already planning another trip there. Perhaps in the spring, we don’t know yet, but it won’t be until next year. We do plan on going back to Port Arthur, but other than that we haven’t thought about much else. I do hope Queenstown will be included again, maybe for a couple of days.
Tasmania, while one of the smaller states of Australia, is still quite a large area. It would be impossible to do the whole place in that short amount of time. Luckily for me, it isn’t that far away and I can get there by boat or plane. So basically there is plenty of time to see all of it.
Here are some reminders of the trip.
A couple of weeks ago I showed you some photos of the Isle of Dead at Port Arthur. I have been meaning to show you more images from my day there, but I took so many it has been hard to choose which ones to show. I have done a selection and will show them in few lots here, and in separate galleries.
Port Arthur was a convict penitentiary in Tasmania. Most of the convicts that were sent there were re-offenders, meaning that once that got here they committed another crime. It opened in 1830, taking over from other places around Tasmania and ceased operating in 1877. Australia did start as a penal colony and it is great to see places like this that remind us of part of our history.
There is no doubt that the big penitentiary building is the most impressive and most recognisable building there. When you go it is basically the first building you see. It sits near the water and even in its ruined state is an impressive building. I photographed a little plaque that has the history of the building and you can read that.
The Separate Prison and Asylum
At Port Arthur you will find a building called the separate prison. This building was made up of solitary confinement cells. It was thought that the best way to treat prisoners was not by flogging and hard labour, but to look them away in cells where they had no communication with anyone else. They were not allowed to talk unless a guard asked them a question. The whole place was a quiet zone, and even the guards used sign language between them.
We now know that putting people into solitary confinement sends them mad, but back then the connection wasn’t made. We have learned a lot from places like this, however, at the time they didn’t know so a separate asylum was built for those that went mad, (the last two images in the gallery).
Surrounding Port Arthur
The gardens are really beautiful around the site. With it being winter there were a lot of trees that had lost their leaves. Still it was very green and perhaps the sunniest day we had while there. As we stayed for the ghost tour we were there also for the sunset. I have shown you some other photos of it, but here a few more as well.
Port Arthur Massacre
As much as we like to think of this place as a place for convicts, sadly it is also the place for Australia’s worse gun shooting and massacre. In 1996 Martin Bryant went a shooting rampage and killed 35 people and wounded 23 others. There is a separate memorial there for it. The cafe where he started has been stripped and only the shell of it remains today.
One positive outcome from this was a rethink on our gun laws. An amnesty was set up where people could turn in guns, get paid for them, with no repercussions and they did. Thousands and thousands of guns were turned in at police stations and other sites. We now have very strict gun laws, and to tell the truth most of us are very happy about that. We certainly feel a lot safer. I’ve never seen a gun except those that police carry and even they are starting to look for alternatives.
Before Port Arthur we had, on average, one mass shooting a year, since, we haven’t had one.
Government Cottage and Church Ruins
By the time we had finished the tours we went on we realised that we didn’t have enough time to see all that was there. If you are going to do the tours then you should plan to be there for two days. So after a cup of tea we decided to see what we could before the sun went down and the start of our ghost tour.
We went to the ruins of Government Cottage and the convict Church. Both destroyed in bushfires in the 1890’s so that all that remained where the walls. We don’t see a lot of building in Australia like this, and the Church was incredible.
Without a doubt an incredible place and one I can’t wait to go back and finish exploring. Next time, no tours, just spend the day taking photos. See as much as I can. If you are planning a trip there, I suggest doing it over two days, and maybe spread the tours over the two. I didn’t take photos on the ghost tour, I put the camera away and decided to just join in the fun and experience. It was very dark when we did it, so the photos wouldn’t have been great anyway.
If you would like more information at Port Arthur I suggest you visit their website.
While visiting Port Arthur in Tasmania we decided to do quite a few tours, and one of the ones we chose was the Isle of the Dead Cemetery. From the name you can see that is was on a separate island and we had to catch a boat to go there. The only way you can visit it is by boat and by taking the tour. So you don’t get a lot of time there.
Here is the island as we approached it.
All people who died, I think, at Port Arthur were taken to this island for burial. On the high part are the “free” people and the lower parts the convicts. The land, if I remember correctly, was not consecrated so anyone could be buried anywhere. Unlike most graveyards, it was divided into different denominations.
The free people had head stones, but very few of the convicts did. To get a headstone a letter would be sent home to the family saying that their relative had died, and if they wanted a marker they would need to send money back. This could take up to 18 months. So once the headstone was paid for it may not even be where the convict was buried. Since many of the convicts that came to Australia came because they were poor and living in appalling conditions, most families were unable to send money back, hence many unmarked graves.
Over 1100 people were buried on this small isle. Someone asked our tour guide if we were walking on buried people and she merely nodded her head. Is was such a small island that it must have been fun of graves, to fit that many.
I’m not going to say anymore now, here are some photos of the graves there. A quiet place, quiet contemplation for those that lived and served their time there. A hard place and something we need to remember.
Sadly, I have returned home from Tasmania, and I am very tired, but wanted to let you know that I was back. I wanted to show you a couple of photos from Port Arthur, though there will be more.
We spent the whole day at Port Arthur, a very important place in the history of Australia, as it was a convict prison for secondary offenders. I am not going to say much about it now as I am really tired after spending the night on the Spirit of Tasmania. It is a new thing sleeping on a boat. I didn’t mind it, but it was restless.
We were in the remains of the church and I could see that it was very close to sunset, and while it would have been nice to get lots of photos here, I knew there was somewhere else that I wanted to get photos.
I don’t know why, but I knew I wanted to get the sunset down at the penitentiary building. With all the rain we have had it meant there were puddles everywhere, and well, they really worked in this image. I do love the way the colours are reflected into the water there. I did do a HDR with this as in other images the building was lost. I think this worked better. It really was the perfect image for that sort of treatment.
As I said, there will be more photos from there, though with almost 6000 photos taken in my time there, I’m sure you realise I have a lot to go through, delete the ones that don’t work, and work on the ones I like. For now I leave you with these two images. I would also like to do some posts wrapping up my trip and sharing the experiences we had along the way. You will be hearing about Tasmania for a while yet.
The most important thing really is that I know it won’t be my first and only trip to Tasmania. We have already started planning the next trip.