Sunday, July 17, 2016

Tasmania: Port Arthur

After Bonorong Wildlife Park, we drove to Port Arthur, the big tourist attraction founded on the misery of previous generations of convicts and the site of one of Australia's worst shooting massacres in 1996 (which caused them to enact strict gun laws in response). When you purchase your ticket, you receive a playing card which matches a convict's story. The Titanic exhibit did a similar thing and I think it does a good job of trying to humanize the stories of hardship and/or death in an otherwise distanced museum experience. We ended up buying the whole card deck along with a book that details the 52 convict stories. I don't know when I'll have time to read it, but it looks interesting. I feel like when we learn about convicts in the U.S., we get the image of hardened murderers, but a lot of them were sent to Australia for relatively petty crimes, like stealing food or not paying off debt.

The tour ticket included a harbor cruise, so I did that first (D gets sea-sick). The boat took everyone past an island where they moved the juvenile boys, after it turned out that they were learning all kinds of bad behavior from the adult convicts.
Next was a guided walking tour. The crumbling brick buildings were really cool, and it is a beautiful site. The sun was setting, too, which cast a nice glow on the structures. 
The tour guide explained how the administrators and other non-convicts had
their buildings and homes on ground levels higher than the convict buildings.

Convict cell

These were the days of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon prison ideas.

This looked like an Easter egg holder!

Cool castle look

This was the nice home for the person in charge of Port Arthur.

Some of the buildings used to be quite tall.

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