The Penitentiary at Port Arthur, one of the historic ruins at Port Arthur, near Hobart Tasmania

The Penitentiary at Port Arthur, one of the iconic historic buildings and ruins at the Port Arthur site, near Hobart Tasmania.

A part of the Australian story

The Port Arthur Historic Sites are places of national and international significance—part of the epic story of the settlement of this country.

The Port Arthur Historic Site is the best preserved convict site in Australia and one of the country’s most visited heritage attractions.

Along with the Coal Mines Historic Site, Port Arthur was a key part of the colonial system of convict discipline. In its time, it was a groundbreaking attempt to deal with issues of crime and punishment that all societies continue to address today.

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What you will experience

A young visitor and his mother explore Port Arthur's Convict Gallery and get to know a real convict.

Port Arthur’s tale is told in many different ways. As you explore the Site, many stories will reveal themselves to you.

Our guides will share their passion, knowledge and stories of Port Arthur on our guided tours and harbour cruise.

You can take your time to explore furnished period homes, including the Commandant’s House, Parsonage, Trentham Cottage and Junior Medical Officer’s quarters as well as the historic buildings and ruins of the Penitentiary, Barracks, Guard Tower and military precinct, Hospital, Paupers’ Depot and Asylum.

You will experience fascinating, interactive exhibits at the Dockyard, Parsonage and Separate Prison, and get to know a real convict when you play the Lottery of Life.

And the Historic Ghost Tour invites you into an eerie, after dark experience of Port Arthur. Only for the brave!

Real places, real people, real experiences

The Penitentiary at Port Arthur, viewed across Mason Cove

Port Arthur is a place of great beauty that can stir powerful emotions. The Sites are surrounded by beautiful bushland, woven with short walks and trails to enable you to explore the stunning natural environment.

As you explore the gardens and grounds you can also take time to imagine and understand what people have experienced here.

In the Separate Prison, the fear of inmates still seems palpable. When you visit the Isle of the Dead you enter the final resting place of those who were never able to leave Port Arthur. As you enter the sanctuary of the Memorial Garden, take a moment to remember the victims of the 1996 massacre.

And as you walk in the peaceful setting of the Coal Mines Historic Site you’ll discover the experiences of the convicts who lived and worked here under the harshest of conditions.

Understanding the present by learning about the past

Visitors explore the Museum at Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a place to explore, learn and understand our past…and our present.

  • In our Museum, you will discover the philosophies that drove the Port Arthur prison—a ‘machine for grinding rogues into honest men’.  
  • Join a tour of the first boys’ reformatory in the British Empire, at Point Puer
  • Visit Smith O’Brien’s Cottage to learn about political prisoners at Port Arthur
  • Visit the Dockyard, once the busiest in Van Diemen’s Land
  • Uncover the lives of Port Arthur’s convicts and free settlers in our Convict Study Centre
  • Learn how precious water resources were managed as you explore the Convict Water Supply Trail