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Tasmanian Cities l Tasmanian Nature Reserve

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Port Arthur

The many ruins and structures at the site includes the Guard tower, a Hospital, an Asylum, the Prison, a Church, the famous penitentiary, The Semaphore, and the Commandant's House.

The Guard Tower was used to prevent escapes from the prison as it overlooked both the Commissariat Store and prison. The Hospital was built with sandstone in 1842 with four wards of 18 beds each, a basement, and a morgue. The Asylum of Port Arthur used to house over 100 mentally ill or senile convicts. When the settlement closed, it was became the town hall. Today, it is a museum and gift shop. Pentonville Prison in London influenced the Prison's design and this 1840s design was thought to provide 'humane' punishment. The Church was built in 1837 and was never consecrated because it was used by all denominations. The building was gutted by fire in 1884 but the ruins are now fully preserved. The Semaphore was a series of flat, mounted planks that could be arranged in different configurations, in order to send messages to Hobart and across the Peninsula. The Commandant's House was one of the first houses at Port Arthur. This 19th Century style cottage has now been restored and furnished.

The Isle of the Dead, a small island that was a cemetery for the prison colony, is available for tour and visit from the main site. Harbor cruises and boats run out twice a day to the isle.

Port Arthur is also famous for its ghost tours. Operating since December 1988, this tour has grown to become one of the Historic Site's most popular activities. During peak summer months, the tours attract as many as 400 people at night. Join the tour guides on this Historic Ghost Tour to find out more about the spirits of Port Arthur on a lantern-lit walk through the Historic Site. You may even get to meet some of them!


This city began life in 1804 at the mouth of the Derwent River, a year after Tasmania's first settlement at nearby Risdon Cove. Only a collection of tents and huts then, its population consisted of 178 convicts, 25 marines, 15 women, 21 children, 13 free settlers, and 10 civil officers.

Hobart is Australia's second oldest city and has an incredible waterfront location. From Old Wharf, where the first arrivals settled, round to the fishing village of Battery Point, the area known as Sullivan's Cove is still the hub of this cosmopolitan city.

Attractions include the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Criminal Courts and Penitentiary Chapel, Battery Point, and Salamanca Place.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery was built in 1863 and designed by the city's best known colonial architect, Henry Hunter. The gallery now houses an excellent collection of early prints and paintings of Tasmania, Aboriginal artifacts, as well as botanical displays of native flora. The Criminal Courts and Penitentiary Chapel showcases underground passages, solitary confinement cells, and an execution yard.

The Battery Point is a maritime village located near the early settlement and wharves. A site with narrow gas-lit streets lined with tiny fishermen's and worker's houses, cottage gardens, colonial mansions and pubs, this village is a reflection of early colonial days. The strategic site, with its views down to the Derwent River, was originally home to a gun battery, which was positioned to ward off potential enemy invasions. The old guardhouse, built in 1818, is just a few minutes walk from Hampden road and has a range of antique shops, art galleries, tearooms, and restaurants.

The Salamanca Place was once the site of early colonial industries ranging from jam making to metal foundry. Today, the beautiful row of sandstone warehouses is now the heart of Hobart's lively art and creative center. There is a range of art and craft galleries, antique furniture stores, and antiquarian bookshops housed in these old buildings. This place is also famous for its Saturday morning market and the Salamanca Market, where many stalls filled with arts, crafts, and fresh food are displayed.

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