21 May 2012

Tasmania part 2- Port Arthur

Port Arthur is just north of Marion Bay, about 1. 5 hours drive from Hobart through Sorell on the Tasman Highway. The penitentiary and open air museum of Port Arthur is Tasmania's most visited tourist attraction. From 1833 some of the hardest convicted criminals from United Kingdom and Ireland stayed here. The treatment they received was brutal, and the prisoners were used for slave-labour and experiments.
Some prisoners committed murder in order to escape, as murder was punished by death at the time.  The only connection to the mainland was guarded by half-starved guard dogs, soldiers and man traps.

What made an unforgettable impression on me was the silent system that was implemented in the Separate prison. The prisoners were hooded and made to stay silent as to reflect upon the crime they were being punished for. As a consequence many prisoners developed mental illness, and an asylum was built right next to the Separate Prison. The area is magnificent and the events that happened there is a truly eye-opening experience. Entry to the area starts from $30 without a guide. It is also possible to join a guided ghost tour by night.

However, if you're traveling on a budget it's possible to sneak in for free. I casually went for a walk in the area and ended up inside the museum area without having to buy a ticket. Turns out the whole area isn't fenced, guarded by soldiers or half-starved dogs.

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