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Historical Port Arthur


Welcome to Port Arthur, a city where history seems to seep out of the walls and rise out of the floors of the ancient buildings. Initially a penal settlement, Port Arthur was largely built by the prison labour force. The convict heritage is ever present in this city, from the beautifully preserved buildings built by the prisoners to the masses of graves of the captive men and women. It is this rich heritage together with the beauty of the region that has made Port Arthur Tasmania's premier tourist destination. A historically significant tribute to the early settlers of Australia, it will draw you in and transport you back to the early days of our nation, chilling and intriguing you along the way.
The biggest attraction here, and one that has been pulling in visitors since the early 1900's, is the Port Arthur Historic Site. The site has been preserved as a cultural relic, a vestige to our convict past that was so cruel yet so crucial to the emergence of Australia. Over thirty ruins and old buildings are set in forty hectares of rolling green gardens, around which you can take informative guided tours
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, or simply wander them at your own leisure. The penitentiary is the largest and most imposing ruin, but the separate prison, where prisoners were punished with solitary confinement, is easily the most chilling. You can also walk through the commandants residence, the church, the hospital and the dockyards, and visit the museum which is located in the old asylum.
When night falls there is no better way to enhance your historical convict experience than to take a historic ghost tour through the site. The buildings and surrounds take on an ominous feel in the dark, and the story telling from the guide as you wander through the jail and the church is guaranteed to chill you to the core. While you may not see any ghosts, the forbidding and gloomy air of the Historic Site at night is sure to raise a few hairs and provide you with some spooky memories! These tours
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 are limited in size and are very popular, so be sure to book in advance. Another chilling journey to the past is a tour to the Isle of the Dead, a small island situated just off shore. Over 1100 convicts and free men were buried on this island in the mid 1800's, and a tour of the headstones is a fascinating and morbid insight into history.
It is not only the heritage of Port Arthur that makes it a great place to visit. Located on the spectacular Tasman Peninsula, it is surrounded by thick rainforest vegetation and rugged landscapes. High cliffs, beautiful ocean views and stunning geological formations contrast with the dark convict history, providing a depth to the appeal of the region that intrigues visitors. the power of the sea is evident along the battered coastline, and this makes for some breathtaking scenery. Just six kilometres from the Historic Site is the Remarkable Cave, an amazing cavity in the coastal rock into which the waves crash and echo in a mesmerising fashion. There are other examples of the sculpted coastline nearby, and there is a four or five hour walk that starts at the cave and goes to Crescent Bay along which you can see more of these features.
The alluring landscapes of the Tasman Peninsula, which is registered on the National Estate, provide a wealth of activities for visitors to choose from. There are safe swimming beaches for a relaxing day with the family, but there are also beaches with roaring surf conditions that will keep the adrenaline junkies happy. If taking to the water is really your thing then you can hire sea kayaks and explore the white beaches and the rocky inlets of the coast whilst paddling around. There are thirty five designated walks in the area that will transport you through the changing features of the region, from rolling sand dunes to steep, rocky cliffs. Some of the walks are gentle strolls, others are more gruelling and may take a day or two, so be sure to plan beforehand where you wish to walk to and how long it is going to take. Horse back rides are available and are an excellent way to see the countryside at a leisurely pace. Fishing is also a popular pastime of locals and visitors. Many people camp
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 on the shores of Fortescue Bay, where the smooth waters are home to different varieties of fish, and where it is also safe to swim and paddle around. This is one of the most popular spots in the region, so don't expect to be alone.
Its a very inspiring holiday destination, Port Arthur. It urges you to think about history, and has the effect of reconnecting you with the traces of our past and making you more appreciative of the present. Intriguing and captivating, a holiday here will entertain and educate you and your family. A hirecar will give you the freedom you need to explore the Peninsula fully, and discover all the secrets its been storing over the generations.
Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. originally from Zambia he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. For more of his articles visit <A HREF="http://www.discovery-carhire.com.au/tas.php">Car Hire in Tasmania</A>



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