Destination : Port Arthur

The good lady wife and I planned a visit to Port Arthur as part of our family vacation to Tasmania. We were accompanied by our youngest daughter, a thirteen year old. I was sceptical about visiting Port Arthur all too often the hype is greater than the destination and thus disappointing the travelling tourist and lightening their wallet. So alarm bells rang when I learnt I had to pay an entry fee of $75.00 ( AUD ) (01/2011)the three of us to visit Port Arthur, whilst not a fortune I have felt let down by these type of tourist attractions before, hence my apprehension. I reluctantly parted with my cash before I was once again called a scrooge by my family members. Armed with camera, tripod and bag of photographic gear we went forth and stepped back in time.
Once you make your way through the visitor/reception centre and onto the grounds of the historic Port Arthur site the first thing that captures your mind is the extraordinary vastness of the area. The second striking feature that greets you, the iconic Penitentiary.

The Vast grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site

For the travelling photographer Port Arthur is a feast, Architectural, Landscape, Seascape and maybe even some creative portraiture amongst the historic buildings. Even the flower power shooter is well catered for as Port Arthur boasts some remarkable gardens. I took 16 gig of memory space via 3 different cards and shooting in RAW+JPEG fine and found myself deleting shots that I didn’t think quite made the mark, to conserve memory space. Although it must be said I did shoot mostly 5 shot bracketing sequences due to the poor light on the day, in the hope of some HDR creations at some point in the future.
A tripod proved invaluable for indoor shots and even though on the day we visited, it was quite busy the staff members where not fazed by me setting up a tripod indoors. Even outside a tripod was essential due to bracketing sequences and the finicky lighting condition. It was a warm but heavily overcast day that threatened to unleash masses of water but thankfully the rain held off.

Various windows and doorways found around Port Arthur

Some of the Buildings to be found at Port Arthur

Inside the Commandant’s House

Within the Surgeon’s House

For the average visitor Port Arthur seems to offer more than a history lesson. It gives an in depth and detailed view of how people lived in a bygone era. Traditional heavy construction methods of the time add to the rich and optically pleasing environment. The manicured and well cared for garden really help to give the whole place an authentic feel.
The knowledge of the brutal treatment measured out to prisoners during their day to day activities of ship building, forestry, brick and shoe making maybe somewhat lost in the timeless beauty of Port Arthur.

First Sighting – This first sight prisoners would see of Port Arthur

However visiting the separate Prison soon snaps the mind back to the brutal reality of the time. One form of punishment superseded by another torturous form, the Silent System or Model Prison. A psychological punishment that often left long term side effects as a consequence of the cruel practice of being hooded and living in mandatory silence. This was the reality for those prisoners in the Separate Prison. Non the less Port Arthur was one of the biggest penal system in the British justice systems and was heralded as world leading for it’s time.

Within in the Separate Prison

The Separate Prisons Chapel, the only place separate prison inmates could make a sound

It was pleasing that both my wife and daughter thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Port Arthur neither are particularly interested in colonial history however being in the midst of this living time warp seemed to appeal immensely. To my surprise there wasn’t the usual ‘when are we going’ that often falls from a bored 13 year olds lips. My wife whom really doesn’t care one tiny little bit for photography found it easy to find something to occupy herself whilst I set up for that next killer shot.

If I could advise potential visitors to Port Arthur, of one thing allow plenty of time as there is a multitude of things to see and do. We allowed a day including travelling time and we found ourselves rushing towards the end of the day to see everything.

The bottom line: Don’t think twice about paying the entrance fee its very much value for money.

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Destination : Port Arthur by 

A personal and pictorial account of an Australian Icon destination. Port Arthur Tasmania

G’Day, I am just an average person with an extraordinary hobby, Photography. My favorite forms of Photography are landscape and sport. I particularly like shooting Waterfalls and racing images mostly Motorcycles, although these are not exclusively my photographic pursuits. If something is appealing to me, I will have ago at shooting it. I am very much an opportunistic photographer rarely pre-planing how a shot will be taken until I am on site. Thanks for looking at my work I hope you enjoy it.

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  • Jennifer Craker
    Jennifer Crakerover 3 years ago

    Is that per person or for the family…. We have thought of going ourselves and once discussed renewing our wedding vows here. But, alas, haven’t quite gotten to do either yet. Thanks for the info, enjoyed reading and very much enjoyed your images. Love the HDR work… Nicely captured all round

  • Hi Jen that for the three of us. Check this link out to find out more. Thanks for your favourable feed back and good luck with both renewing vows and the trip.

    – mspfoto

  • Jennifer Craker
    Jennifer Crakerover 3 years ago

    Thanks for the link. If that price is for the three of you, you certainly got your monies worth. Your captures have reenergised my yearning to get there however, as for the renewing of the vows, that’s still yet to be re-considered… Thanks for sharing your great captures.

  • Well I am glad I have inspired someone, if it helps I might volunteer to do the photography for vows…… Ha Ha :)

    – mspfoto

  • Warren  Patten
    Warren Pattenover 3 years ago

    Nice work Mark,I must be a tight arse as well 75bucks? cost nothing when I went there in 86.Plenty of convicts have climbed the wall to get out—Mark I would of climbed the fence to get in..LOL.cheers.

  • Ha Ha Wazza, I like your sentiment but I don’t mind paying I just like to know I am not being ripped off. Thanks for the great feed back.

    – mspfoto

  • Terry Everson
    Terry Eversonover 3 years ago
    An excellent well presented article Mark. Great writing and superb images. I too balk at some of these tourists places when they start charging high fees to enter, Ayres Rock a case in point. A small fee is ok but then they start to get greedy. The first time I went here I can`t remember paying a fee (1971) but the last time it was about $12.
  • I know where your coming from Terry, if I recall rightly Ayres Rock is now $50 per person June last year(2010).

    – mspfoto

  • Terry Everson
    Terry Eversonover 3 years ago
    By the way Mark why don`t you submit it to `Discover Australia` magazine.
  • Will look into it mate.

    – mspfoto

  • JohnDSmith
    JohnDSmithover 3 years ago

    It was a wonderful tour with great photo`s and info,…..THANKS !

  • Thanks JD glad you liked it, I hope the article relayed the feel of the place.

    – mspfoto

  • John Vriesekolk
    John Vriesekolkover 3 years ago

    Hi Mark, thanks for such a great story and beautiful photo’s. It reminded me of our visit a few years back. Even if you’re not that interested in history, you learn a lot and get a different view on how things happened.

  • Thanks so much John things where so much different back then.

    – mspfoto

  • Jan Fijolek
    Jan Fijolekover 3 years ago

    Great photo guide Mark, I will use it when I visit Tasmania ;))

  • Thanks and your so welcome too.

    – mspfoto

  • Stephen Ruane
    Stephen Ruaneover 3 years ago

    Beautifully put together Mark!

  • Thanks mate.

    – mspfoto

  • Husky
    Huskyover 3 years ago

    Great little story and pic’s Mark! Certainly has changed in the 3 years since I went down! I hate being ripped off to mate and thats too expensive, and I also think that if you are a rate payer in what ever state the attraction or National Park you shouldnt have to pay an entry fee!!

  • I kinda of agree with what you saying. I was a little surprised you Taswegians have to pay to get into your National Parks. Well the ones we visited anyway.
    Thanks for your feed back Dale much appreciated.

    – mspfoto

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