I stole a loaf of bread. What? I was hungry, and who was going to miss it really?!?
Turns out the Aussies did! So much so that I kind ended up in custody...
I have to say the Australians are pretty strict on crime. Even after pleading my case to the judges they threw the book at me (literally and figuratively).
Which despite its picturesque appearance is not a nice place to stay. For your see Port Arthur is a penal colony.
I now have this humble cell to call home. Sure it might look quaint, but there are a LOT of rules I have to adhere to if I want to avoid a flogging or solitaire.
In fact so many rules, I need to review them right now. Excuse me for a second.
I spend 22 hours of the day in here...
and one bloody hour a day in Church, getting a religious rehabilitation! As if that is going to work!!!
GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!
Australia started off its life in the Commonwealth as British Empire's far away banishment prison. In the 1800's Britain was having massive problems with its rich vs. poor gap due to the industrial revolution. An easy way to relieve the societal pressure of a large unemployed impoverished population was to send them elsewhere to work and be productive. Thus Australia was formed, the only convict colony of its type in the world.
One of my first big field trips in Tasmania was to goto the Port Arthur historic site, where I got see and learn about this history in a bit more in detail.
Port Arthur was Australia's second prison (Sydney's being the first), and was among the largest to be established. It started operation in the 1840's and ceased operations in 1877.
Despite starting as a prison, Port Arthur during this time eventually took on many different capacities as the convicts began to wear down and/or age through their forced labour over the decades of the penal system's existence. This included serving as a mental asylum, a convict medical facility for the gravely injured, and retirement facilities for elderly convicts.
I have to say I was rather impressed with the site from a historic point of view. Despite being ravaged by bush fires and demolition in the early 1900's, the majority of Port Arthur is in good enough shape you can get an idea of what it must of been like.
The signs and staff were very informative, and you can learn much of what life here must have been like. There were a few gaps, but that is too be understood given the magnitude of the place.
There was an option to pay extra to tour the island, but my locals said it really wasn't worth it. Which based on the small size of the island I can see.
My locals were even less impressed, having been on the tours before. I had been told better stories by them during the day in the same places, than by our guide at night. Additionally Lady R bought the official ghost book from the gift shop, and it had wonderful HISTORIC stories that actually related to the site, and not just random "generic" ghost stories set at Port Arthur.
Checking out the Parsonage from above, Lady R had a panic attack and had to leave the building. Now the explanation is simple. We had noted during our visit in the day, that two of the rooms in the building were being heated (it was a hot day outside already at 27 degrees). Lady R hadn't liked it as a result back then.
I still recommend the ghost tour, but pick up the ghost book earlier in the day and glance over it before going. Then you can just soak up the atmosphere and the spirit of the tour (pun not intended ;P) while ignoring incompetent guides if you get one.
At least one of my exposure pics captured the chill factor of the night. Just too bad my tour did not.