Nov 2,3 Port Arthur is a place of National and International significance, part of the epic story of the settlement of Australia. It was more than a prison, it was a complete community, home to military personnel and free settlers. The imported convicts worked at farming and industries, producing a large range of resources and materials.
In 1830 Port Arthur Penal Station was established and from 1833 it was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from all the Australian colonies. By 1840 more than 2,000 convicts, soldiers and civil staff lived at the site. The penal settlement finally closed in 1877.
Port Arthur was known as the ‘gaol without walls’ because of its geographically isolated position on a peninsula surrounded by water with a very narrow 9o metre isthmus of land connecting it to the rest of the state at Eaglehawk neck. As a disincentive for escape there was a ‘dog line’ of nine viscious dogs used to alert soldiers to any attempt of convict escape.
On Sunday 28th April 1996, a tragic chapter was added to Port Arthur’s history when a local gunman took the lives of 35 people and physically wounded 19 others in and around the Port Arthur Historic site. The gunman was caught and is still serving 35 consecutive life sentences in Hobart jail.