Port Arthur is one of Australia’s Best Known Historical sites, receiving over 250,000 visitors each year.
Port Arthur is also one of Australia's most significant heritage areas and the open air museum is officially Tasmania's top tourist attraction.
Port Arthur is located approximately 60 km south east of the state capital, Hobart, on the Tasman Peninsula.
From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.
Port Arthur was sold as an inescapable prison, much like the later Alcatraz Island in the United States. Some prisoners were not discouraged by this, and tried to escape.
On the road between Hobart and Port Arthur the Tasman Peninsula and it’s famous coastal features can’t be missed. The Remarkable Cave is called that because when the tide is low enough and you can stand at the mouth of the cave you can see the shape of Tasmania through to the other end’s opening.
The Tasman Arch is also situated on the Tasman Peninsula in close proximity to the Remarkable Cave. This one of natures marvels on how over the years the waves have eroded the softer layers of rock from below and the stronger top layers are still withstanding the forces of nature. The famous Blow Hole is also here
On 28 April 1996, Martin Bryant went on a killing spree at Port Arthur, murdering 35 people and wounding 21 more before being captured by the Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police. This led to a national ban on semi-automatic shotguns and rifles.