A day at the Port Arthur Historic Site

Whether you’re just visiting Tasmania or a local and looking to explore things to do, a day at the Port Arthur Historic Site should be at the top of your list.

Port Arthur is one of Australia’s most important heritage sites offering history and insight into the settlement of convicts in the 1800’s.

Located about a 1 hours and 30 minutes drive outside of Hobart, Port Arthur can be reached by car, tour bus, or public transport.

Whilst you’ll be focusing on driving to Port Arthur, there are a few good stops you should make on the way that offer more insight into the history of convicts as well as the natural beauty of Tasmania.

You’ll likely want to make space for a whole day if you’re looking to visit as there is plenty to see and a variety of tours for you to select from.

Before you plan your trip, check out the range of tours available here and everything you need to know about your day at the Port Arthur Historic Site.

What to do whilst at Port Arthur

Visit the Penitentiary

The penitentiary at Port Arthur is one of the most iconic buildings and is situated in the heart of the historic site itself.

It was constructed in 1845 and whilst it is now known as the penitentiary, it was originally built to produce flour and granary at the settlement.

Port Arthur Penitentiary
The Penitentiary at Port Arthur

Whilst visiting the penitentiary, you’ll be able to see the cells, a smoking room, exercise yards, old fire places, ovens, and kitchens. It really does offer great insight into what life must have been like for the convicts.

Visit the separate prison

As well as the penitentiary, a separate prison was built on the grounds to house those who were disobedient and housed convicts who were housed to solitary confinement.

Convict cell in Port Arthurs separate prison

Unlike the penitentiary, convicts were kept in small cells with no windows for up to 23 hours per day, psychologically tortured, and limited to outdoor exposure.

Experience the harbour cruise

As well as the main grounds, you can jump on a harbour cruise that offers the grounds from a different perspective from Carnarvon Bay.

You’ll also be taken past Island of The Dead which was the final resting place for over 1000 convicts including women and children.

Search convict records

Did you know that whilst at Port Arthur you’re able to see the names of convicts who lived on the grounds.

Port Arthur Convict Database

You’ll find this in the museum as you enter Port Arthur. Question is, do you have any connections to convicts of Port Arthur?

Opening Hours

The site is opening from 9am to 5pm everyday (aside from Christmas Day) so you have plenty of time to explore and can visit during the week or on weekends.

Tickets and Tours

It’s recommended that you book tickets in advance for the day itself and also some of the tours below:

  • Commandant’s Tour
  • Escape from Port Arthur Tour
  • Isle of the Dead cemetery tour
  • Port Arthur Ghost Tour
  • After Dark Package