This year as we were heading South for family commitments anyway, we thought it was a good chance to show the family the reason for Tasmania first becoming famous and recognised overseas. A step back in time to Van Diemen’s Land to honour the poor wretched souls sent to this hell-hole on earth. The years between 1833 and 1873.
Now it is so peaceful. Really beautiful. Hard to believe there was a massacre here only 17 years past…. has it been that long? Tourists were abundant on Sunday. The humble little boat used in the 80’s to ferry people over to The Isle of the Dead when I was there as a child, has been long replaced with a stylish tinted window Catamaran. This also stops at Point Puer. ‘Puer’ being the Latin word for ‘boy’. This is where they kept the boys while they trained/punished them up, to be honest men?????
The Model prison has been renovated into a modern museum now. It includes some stories which I found interesting. The cells don’t look half as creepy with their white-washed walls. But the feeling is still the same. I would think any tourist would find it hard to walk out of that building with a smile on their face. A real place of tortured isolation. Disgusting!
We didn’t participate in the ghost tour this time, but we’re interested in the politics of the time. That is, the reasoning behind the prison and how they seemed to have thought of everything in terms of welfare for the inmates. A shame it was so corrupt and the system abused…. Or was it just a sign of the times and the beliefs that the heirachy of man was a pecking order to be re-enforced??? How did the ‘upper-class’ live with their conscious living right next door to abused men who had made a simple mistake or two that today, would hardly make the community service list?
But the day was bright though cold. A happy little girl who’s grandfather worked there on the site was passing out her Easter Bunny eggs to the toddlers about the place. She herself only being of about 4.
There were plays at various times of the day at the Penitentiary depicting convict stories that still remain in the archives at Port Arthur and the girls got to make convict bricks with air drying clay and bits of ground up actual convict brick. Bricks that were no longer of any use to the restoration efforts.
We arrived about 10.30am and were surprised to see the girls last until 5.30pm. A great day was had by all. They were reluctant to leave they were so amazed by something so old!….. remembering how young Australia is.
Worth the visit.