Convict Settlement

Trip Start Aug 24, 2011
1
15
41
Trip End Apr 01, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Tasmania,
Thursday, February 2, 2012

About a hour and a half outside of Hobart is “Port Arthur” the former convict settlement. The settlement is one of Australia's most significant heritage areas and the open air museum is officially Tasmania's top tourist attraction. Darcy and I purchased our day pass, started with the 40 minute guided tour, took the half hour boat ride around the port and then walked around the large site for the next three hours or so. In order to get a “feel” for the pictures I have included some history.
 
Some History of the Site:
The settlement started as a timber station in 1830, but became a convict settlement from 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals and those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment.

Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.
The layout of the prison was fairly symmetrical. It was a cross shape with exercise yards at each corner. The prisoner wings were each connected to the surveillance core of the Prison as well as the Chapel, in the Center Hall. From this surveillance hub each wing could be clearly seen, although individual cells could not. 
 
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. For example, food was used to reward well-behaved prisoners and as punishment for troublemakers. As a reward, a prisoner could receive larger amounts of food or even luxury items such as tea, sugar and tobacco. 

As punishment, the prisoners would receive the bare minimum of bread and water. 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. Many of the prisoners in the Separate Prison developed mental illness from the lack of light and sound. This was an unintended outcome although the asylum was built right next to the Separate Prison.

Contact between visiting seamen and prisoners was barred. Ships had to check in their sails and oars upon landing to prevent any escapes. However, many attempts were made, and some were successful. Boats were seized and rowed or sailed long distances to freedom.
 
The peninsula on which Port Arthur is located is a naturally secure site by being surrounded by water (rumored by the administration to be shark-infested). The 32 yards (30m) wide isthmus of Eaglehawk Neck that was the only connection to the mainland was fenced and guarded by soldiers, man traps and half-starved dogs.




 
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