Explore historic Port Arthur in Tasmania – why you should go and how to get there

Why this historic town should be on your radar

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Strap yourself in and get ready to learn all about Australia’s colonial past at Port Arthur in Tasmania. This iconic and well-preserved prison settlement, just 90 minutes from Hobart, gives an insight into Australian convict life back in the early 1800s. Trust us when we say this place is well worth a visit, even if old ruins aren’t your jam.

The Brits established Port Arthur in the 1830s as a place for repeat offenders – often sending them halfway across the world for something as small as stealing sheep! To us though, it seems almost criminal these people got sent to such a stunning part of the world as punishment for free (we’re joking of course, the conditions were horrific and it was a terribly isolating place).

Today this UNESCO world heritage listed Port Arthur Historic Site is Australia’s most intact convict site. You’ll want to set aside three or more hours to explore this open air museum featuring more than 11 penal sites, a convict-built cathedral and on-site educational displays. The ticket also includes a 25 minute ferry cruise. And if you’re feeling brave you can even stay after dark and go on a ghost tour through the former settlement and asylum.

Hot tip from us – be sure to check the weather forecast before you go, since there are sections of the exposed site which offer limited protection from the wild Tasmanian weather. Be sure to dress in comfortable layered clothing, bring a raincoat, sunscreen and a hat (click our link to find our curated list of the latest styles). 

Once you’ve finished up at Port Arthur, you should spend the rest of your day exploring other local attractions like the tesselated pavements or set out on a bushwalk where you can witness the stunning Tasman Peninsula.

All you need to know about the Port Arthur convict site

Where: Port Arthur Historic Site is an hour and a half south of Hobart, on the Tasman Peninsula 
When: Open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm daily
Cost: Tickets cost $40 for adults and $18 for kids, with a range of other tours available as add ons. 
Stay: Click here to find a list of all accommodation sites near Port Arthur