Thursday November 1, 2007 (Day 16)
From our hotel in Hobart we took a tour of Port Arthur. Along the way we
visited the forests and the coast line of the Tasman Peninsula including the
three picture sequences: "Tasman Arch Devils Kitchen", "Tasman National
Park Lookout" and "Tessellated Pavement".
Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman
Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia and is located approximately 60 km south
east of Hobart.
Port Arthur is also the scene of the worst mass murder event
in Australian History. On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant went on a killing
spree at Port Arthur, murdering 35 people and wounding 37 more before being
captured by Special Operatives Police. This led to a national ban on semi-automatic
shotguns and rifles. It also forged a relationship between the town and Dunblane,
a Scottish town which suffered a similar incident earlier that year.
Port Arthur was named after Van Diemen´s Land lieutenant governor George Arthur.
The settlement started as a timber station in 1830; it is best known for being
a penal colony. From 1833, until 1850s, it was a destination for the hardest
of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders
having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. The Separate Prison
was completed in 1853 and extended in 1855. The 80 cell prison was built in
the shape of a cross with radial exercise yards around a central hall and
chapel. It signaled a shift from physical punishment to psychological punishment.
It was thought that the hard corporal punishment, such as whippings, used
in other penal stations only served to harden criminals, and did nothing to
turn them from their immoral ways. Under this system of punishment the
"Silent System" was implemented in the building. Here prisoners were hooded
and made to stay silent, this was supposed to allow time for the prisoner to
reflect upon the actions which had brought him there. Port Arthur is compared
to the inescapable prison Alcatraz.