The Separate Prison where solitary confinement and being locked up for 23 hours per day was usual

The Separate Prison from the air, here solitary confinement and being locked up for 23 hours per day was the norm.

Separate Prison

In 1848, harsh physical punishment within the prison was rejected in favour of punishment of the mind. Flogging gave way to solitary confinement.

The Separate Prison was built at Port Arthur in 1850. Cruciform-shaped, each of the four wings comprised a central corridor flanked by rows of solitary confinement cells. Separated by thick sandstone walls, it was hoped that the convicts would benefit from contemplative silence and separation.

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As you enter the Prison, a voice reads out the Rules and Regulations of the Separate Prison as they were read to each man who was imprisoned here. Your echoing steps along the central hall take you to A Wing, and the cells where the men spent their days—sleeping, waking, working and eating.

In the narrow exercise yard, you find yourself surrounded by high, imposing walls, revealing a sliver of sky, your only link to the outside world.

A major conservation and interpretation program is in progress at the Separate Prison, creating a new and powerful insight into the experiences of the prisoners who were confined here.

Several further stages of conservation and interpretation at the Separate Prison will be implemented over the next few years, ultimately creating an innovative interpretative experience of life in the dreaded Separate Prison of Port Arthur.

Take a virtual video tour of the Separate Prison

View a slide show of photos of the Separate Prison

Separate Prison Fact Sheet

Separate Prison Conservation Project

Learn more about the conservation and interpretation program is in progress at the Separate Prison.