Spent the day at Port Arthur. The history of this place is astounding. It was established in 1830 as a timber getting camp using convict labour. From 1833 it was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from all Australian colonies. Convict transportation finished in 1853 & the penal settlement closed in 1877.
The main building or Penitentiary was originally built as a flour mill & granary. It was converted to a four story Penitentiary due to its failure to produce enough flour.
The church was built in 1837 & was non denominational so both catholics & protestants could have services. Up to 1100 people attended compulsory services every Sunday.
One of the many industries that thrived at Port Arthur was shipbuilding. During its 15 years of operation it produced 16 large decked vessels & 150 small open boats.
The hospital at the time was the biggest & most modern in Australia. The asylum was needed as many of the prisoners required mental health support. In the 1860’s there were many long-term prisoners being released with no money & nowhere to go. A social support system was set up so they could live on the prison grounds & do menial tasks ie gardening, cooking, etc.
The Separate Prison was built in 1849 & was designed to deliver a new method of punishment. Convicts were locked for 23 hours each day in a single cell.
There are numerous other buildings on the site that are all interesting in their own right.
This is Point Puer & is one of the reasons Port Arthur has UNESCO World Heritage status. It operated from 1834 to 1849 as the first purpose-built juvenile reformatory in the British Empire. Most of the boys were between 14 & 17 with the youngest being only 9 years old.
And if you didn’t live long enough to complete your sentence you ended up on the Island of the Dead. The small island has over 1100 people buried on it.
On the way back we stopped at Eaglehawk Neck. In 1831 a Military station was built at the “Neck” to keep watch for convicts escaping from Port Arthur. It was the only land access & was only 40 metres wide. A dogline was set up across the neck, the dogs being half-starved & vicious.
When we arrived at Port Arthur they gave you a card that corresponded with a drawer so you could own your own convict. I decided to do a bit more investigation to find out what happened to Stephen Ashton.
Stephen Ashton was baptised on the 6th July 1807 at All Saints, Wakefield, York. His father was Joseph Ashton.
He appeared at th York Assizes on the 22 March 1828 charged with breaking into the dwelling house of Joseph Cooper at Sutton & stealing one pair of shoes, one linen shirt & various other articles – Yorkshire Gazette 22/3/1828. Prior to this he had served 6 months for breaking into a coal cellar.
He was sentenced to Death which was commuted to Life & Transportation. On 1 June 1828 he was received onto the hulk Retribution which was moored at Woolwich.
He departed from England on the ship Manlius on 16 Jul 1828 & arrived at Hobart Town 9 Nov 1828. He record shows that he received two lots of 25 lashes for stealing food from Aborigines, creating disturbances & drunkenness. On 13 Mar 1832 he absconded from chain gang. When he was caught he was sent to Port Arthur. He then absconded from Port Arthur & when caught received 50 lashes in the presence of the gangs.
On 10 Jan 1833 he stole a lamb the property of Mr Allenby. He appeared in court in Hobart Town where the judge said “he feared that there was something in his countenance indicative of a bad disposition & he should order the sentence of death to be recorded against him, but he would conjure Ashton to submit with resignation & a few good years at Port Arthur might make a material alteration to his condition.” ie life imprisonment – The Tasmanian 22/3/1833
He was finally pardoned on 12 Jun 1845 after spending over 17 years incarcerated, most of it at Port Arthur. The comments on his pardon read “Having held a Ticket of Leave much beyond the usual time & having proved by his conduct that he can be safely entrusted with more extended indulgence.”
Stephen Aston died at H.M. Gents Hospital, Hobart on 24 Feb 1858 from Chronic Laryngitis. His profession was listed as Seaman.
Just up the road are a couple of natural wonders. The Blowhole wasn’t blowing much.
The Bass Strait oil drilling rig the Ocean Monarch is moored in the Derwent River undergoing repairs.
This is Iron Pot Lighthouse on an island at the mouth of the Derwent River. It was the first lighthouse built in Tasmania & the second oldest lighthouse in Australia. The bottom photo was what it looked like in 1900 with a two storey lighthouse keepers cottage.
A few old buildings on the north side of the Derwent River.
Driving around Bellerive & looked out & who should we see but Alive the Handicap Winner of the Sydney to Hobart. She had just won the King of the Derwent as well!
Richmond is a little town 30 mins north west from Hobart. It was originally explored in 1803 & then settled. Coal was discovered & then it became an important wheat growing area. It is one of the oldest & best preserved towns we have seen. This is the Australia’s oldest bridge still in use & dates to 1823. It spans the Coal River & was built by convicts. Its official name is Bigge’s Bridge.
Richmond Gaol was built in 1825 & added to in 1833. It is the oldest unrestored Gaol in the country.
Lots of other old buildings in town.
Old Hobart Town is 1/20th scale model of what Hobart looked like in the 1820’s. It gives a great idea of what Hobart looked like in the early days. Only the green buildings on the map remain in some form to this day.
Lunch at Riversdale Estate. Terrible view on a warm day.
Just around the corner is Tasmania’s University Radio Telescope Observatory.
Heading north to Orford for a week.
Quote of the Day
“I like villains because there’s something so attractive about a committed person — they have a plan, an ideology, no matter how twisted. They’re motivated.”