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Our Guide to Visiting the Port Arthur Historic Site

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The Port Arthur Historic Site is located on the Tasman Peninsula, just a 90 minute drive from Hobart. Today, the peninsula’s epic scenery and rugged beauty attracts visitors from around the world. Back in the 19th century, it was a different story; the giant sea cliffs, thick forest, and surrounding ocean made it an ideal spot for a prison. Escape was near impossible from such an isolated place, but today you might not want to leave—exploring this World Heritage-listed Convict Site is one of the best things to do in Tasmania! We’ve put together some tips to help you plan your visit.

Exploring the site

Visit the Port Arthur Historic Site to step back in time and delve into our convict heritage. When you arrive, head to the Visitor Centre for tickets and information. As there’s a lot to see and do, your ticket grants you entry for two consecutive days. Explore more than 40 hectares of open land (best prepare for all weather), historic buildings, ruins, restored houses, heritage gardens and walking trails. As you wander, learn the stories of some of the people who passed through the feared convict settlement. Discover tales of hardship and punishment, as well as opportunity.

Tours & experiences

Your ticket includes a 40 minute guided Introductory Walking Tour and a 25 minute Harbour Cruise, as well as entry to the Port Arthur Gallery, which features interactive exhibits and displays. There are also some additional experiences available, including:

  • After Dark Package: A two-course dinner at 1830 Restaurant & Bar plus a ghost tour
  • Escape from Port Arthur Tour: A walking true crime adventure novel
  • Isle of the Dead & Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tours
  • Port Arthur Ghost Tours
  • Commandant’s Carriage Tour
  • Paranormal Investigation Experience.

The four day / three night Three Capes Track begins and ends at the Port Arthur Historic Site (bookings essential). Walkers get complimentary access to the site for two years.

Special events & family fun

The site hosts a range of events and programs throughout the year, including school holiday programs, live theatre performances, exhibitions, concerts, and archaeological displays and activities (check what’s on). The site is family friendly, and you can also bring well behaved dogs on-lead! Grab a free ‘Hidden Stories’ activity book from the ticketing desk (for kids aged 7–12) and help the kids search for answers, solve puzzles, and collect stamps as you explore. During school holidays, there is usually an additional program of activities on for children—find out more at the Visitor Centre.

Eat & drink

All that exploring is bound to work up an appetite! Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry (unlike the poor convicts).

  • Enjoy a leisurely meal at the 1830 Restaurant & Bar, with amazing views of the Penitentiary, gardens and grounds. The menu stars locally sourced seasonal produce, and boasts a fine range of Tasmanian wines, craft beers, whiskies and spirits.
  • The expanded cafe on the upper level of the Visitor Centre has something for everyone, with freshly brewed coffee, cold drinks, sweet treats, and tasty meals made onsite. Relax inside or out on the deck, or grab some sandwiches for a picnic in the grounds.
  • The Museum Coffee Shop in the Asylum serves great coffee, homemade cakes, delicious snacks and light meals.

For more travel tips, see Tasman Peninsula Journeys. Other places to learn about convicts include the Coal Mines Historic Site at nearby Saltwater River and the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart.

We love it when you share your adventures with us! Share your snaps by tagging @hobartandbeyond and using #HobartandBeyond on Instagram and Facebook – we’ll share our favourite pics on social media and in the blog.

Related posts:
Craft a Tasman Peninusla Getaway Around the Three Capes Track
Top 10 Things to Do in the Tasman Region
5 Historic Sites to Visit in Hobart & Beyond
50 Things to Do with Kids in Hobart & Surrounds
Top 10 Things to Do in Hobart
Edge of the Earth: 5 Dramatic Walks in the Tasman Region

Header image:
Kellye Wilson | @chookywillsy/Instagram

Isabel Galloway

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