Port Arthur Historic Site

Port Arthur - one of Australia's Must-See destinations

Located at the south-eastern tip of Tasmania, Port Arthur offers a unique and memorable cruising experience. Dramatic coastline and sea cliffs lead to our beautiful, safe and sheltered deep-water anchorage, offering easy access to the famous, World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site.

Port Arthur is the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia and among the most significant convict-era sites in the world. The Site spreads over 40 hectares (100 acres) and contains more than 30 historic buildings and ruins. Some of the shingle-roofed buildings were substantially destroyed in bushfires in the late nineteenth century; their ruins give the place an appropriately eerie countenance.

Boulevards of towering oaks and English elms along with expanses of verdant lawns soften the view. Convict era gardens have been meticulously reinstated following extensive archaeological study and historical research. Port Arthur is located on a tranquil harbour and surrounded by hills of dense native forest. The beauty belies the stark reality - that this was a place of much brutality.

Between 1830 and 1877 about 12,500 sentences were served by convicts at Port Arthur. One in seven convicts died. Despite the brutality, a range of industry flourished. A thousand loaves of bread were baked every day, nails were hand made and more than one hundred boats and ships were constructed at Port Arthur’s dockyard.

Activities

The Port Arthur Historic Site is a place of incredible stories. Created with convict labour, the impressive architecture, delightful gardens, dockyard and chilling prison facilities survive today for you to explore.

  • 40 hectares and over 30 historic buildings, ruins, Dockyard and gardens, including fully restored and furnished houses
  • Interactive experiences in the Visitor Centre, featuring the Lottery of Life, as well as our Museum and Convict Study Centre
  • Fascinating 40 minute guided walking tour
  • 25 minute Harbour Cruise aboard the MV Marana
  • Courtesy shuttle buggy service for people with restricted mobility
  • Experience the sounds of past industry at the Port Arthur Dockyard

 

Guided tours of the Historic Site and other shore activities can be tailored to suit schedules and budgets. Access to shore operators for tours of the region is easily organised. The Site’s cafes and restaurants offer quality dining and hospitality options.

Guide books are available in English, French, German, Chinese and Japanese, and interpreters are welcome and accommodated on guided tours.

Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour

  • The Isle of the Dead is a small island located in the harbour off Port Arthur. Between 1833 and 1877, around one thousand burials took place there.
  • Cruise to the island and join a guided walking tour to discover a different aspect Port Arthur's history. This tour offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the people who lived and died at Port Arthur.
  • The walking tour lasts approximately 30 minutes but allow an hour to include the ferry trip there and back.
  • Tours depart daily except Christmas Day
     

Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour

3,000 boys, some as young as nine years old, were sentenced to the Point Puer Boys’ Prison between 1834 and 1849.
Located across the harbour from Port Arthur, it was the first reformatory built exclusively for juvenile male convicts in the British Empire and renowned for its regime of stern discipline and harsh punishment.
The walking tour lasts approximately one hour, but allow two hours to include the ferry trip there and back.
Tours depart daily from September to July, except Christmas Day
 

Audio Tour

  • Explore the Site at your own pace and hear the stories of Port Arthur in the places where they happened
  • Our Audio Tour has 25 stops and blends fascinating history, music, interviews and readings. Character performers deliver an engrossing experience.
  • Available in English
     

Behind The Scenes Tour

  • Immerse yourself in the magnificent Government Gardens and gain insight into how archaeology, science and horticulture assisted to recreate this 19th century pleasure garden
  • Explore our collection that  is not on general display - discovered by archaeologists after having spent over a century buried among the ruins of the site
  • Experience the famous Separate Prison, one our more recent and large scale conservation projects, brought back to life. Originally designed to reform convicts through isolation and contemplation, they were locked in single cells for 23 hours each day.
     

Shore Excursions

Shore operators can provide tours and activities around the Tasman Peninsula region – one of Tasmania’s most dramatic and scenic areas.

Highlights include

  • World Heritage-listed Coal Mines Historic Site
  • Convict Trail via Nubeena, to see the sites of various convict probation stations
  • Eaglehawk Neck and the infamous Dog Line
  • Tesselated Pavement
  • The Blow Hole
  • The Devils Kitchen
  • Tasman Arch
     

Port Arthur Port Details

Type of Berth: Sheltered anchorage.
Channel Depth: 25.0m in bay.
Channel Length: No channel, wide bay.
Tidal Variation: Max 1.2m, std 0.6m .
Berth Length (metres): Max anchorage 250m.
Maximum Draught: 12.0m.
Port Charges: Please refer to TasPorts.
www.tasports.com.au