Port Arthur Historic Site

Top choice historic site

in Port Arthur
Image by Glenn Van Der Knijff / Getty Images
Image by Glenn Van Der Knijff / Getty Images

This amazing World Heritage–listed convict site is one of Tasmania’s big-ticket attractions. The dozens of structures here are best understood via guided tour (included with admission). The feared Separate Prison was built to punish prisoners through 23-hours-a-day isolation and sensory deprivation. The 1836 church burned down in 1884, and the penitentiary was originally a granary and flour mill. 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, the 1830 restaurant and a gift shop, which stocks some interesting convict-focused publications. There's also a cafe at the Visiting Magistrates House inside the site.

A guided 40-minute walking tour of the site and a 25-minute harbour cruise are included in admission prices. Additional tours include those to the Isle of the Dead Cemetery and Point Puer Boys' Prison, and the Escape from Port Arthur, Commandant's Carriage and after-dark ghost tours.

Buggy transport around the site (10am to 3.30pm) can be arranged for people with restricted mobility; ask at the information counter. The ferry plying the harbour is also wheelchair accessible.