Port Arthur Historic Site

Top choice historic site in Port Arthur

Image by Glenn Van Der Knijff Getty Images

This amazing Unesco World Heritage–listed convict site is one of Tasmania’s big-ticket attractions. The dozens of structures here are best interpreted via guided tour (included with admission). The feared Separate Prison was built to punish prisoners through isolation and sensory deprivation (bad vibes? What bad vibes?). The 1836 church burned down in 1884; the penitentiary was originally a granary. The shell of the Broad Arrow Café, scene of many of the 1996 shootings, has been preserved as a memorial garden.

Inside the main entrance is a daytime cafe and a gift shop, which stocks some interesting convict-focused publications. Downstairs is an interpretative gallery where you can follow the convicts’ journey from England to Tasmania.

A guided walking tour of the site plus a short harbour cruise are included in admission prices. Additional tours include those to the Isle of the Dead Cemetery, Point Puer Boys' Prison and after-dark ghost tours.

Buggy transport around the site can be arranged for people with restricted mobility; ask at the information counter. The ferry plying the harbour is also wheelchair accessible.

Note that at the time of writing a major overhaul of the main entrance building was being planned (expect some building works!).