Port Arthur is not the only historic convict site on the Tasman Peninsula. Escape the crowds and head to Coal Mines Historic Site on the quieter western part of the peninsula. It was Tasmania’s first coal mine and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk amongst ruins of houses, barracks, and prisons from the penal colony. Be sure to walk into the solitary confinement cells – they’re extra creepy. There’s a short walking track around the site and entry is free.
The beautifully presented grounds are a stark contrast to the harsh conditions endured by the convicts. You can walk through the buildings on your own with an information book in hand or there are free guided tours. The entry fee also includes a short ferry ride around the harbour. The ferry takes you past the dockyard, the Point Puer Boys’ Prison and the Isle of the Dead cemetery. There are a range of other tours available at extra cost including a ghost tour and tours of the boys’ prison and the cemetery. The Port Arthur historic site lies at the very tip of the Tasman Peninsula and is UNESCO World Heritage listed. This historic penal colony was placed in this idyllic setting with a green mountain backdrop because of the harbour (for ease of unloading prisoners transported from England) and because it was situated on a peninsula it was easier to protect.