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The Guard Tower (1842). Historic Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia.

Ralph de Zilva

Cedar Creek, Australia

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Artist's Description

Nikon D100 & Nikkor 24-120mm lens
Gitzo tripod

1415 views, 89 comments, 5 features and favourited by 11 as at 07.03.2014

Top Ten in the Tasmania groups “Landscape” challenge on 28.12.2013
Top Ten in the South East Australia group challenge on 08.02.2012

Featured in
A Place To Call Home on 20.01.2014
South East Australia
Your Country’s Best
Postcard And Destinations
Retired And Happy on 16.02.2011

On April 28, 1996, the relative quiet of Australia’s Port Arthur in the Tasman Peninsula — roughly 90 minutes by car from the city centre of Hobart in the southern Australian island state of Tasmania — was broken by gunfire.

Before day’s end, 35 lay dead on the historic grounds of Port Arthur. A Tasmanian named Martin Bryant had etched a trail of blood, firing at shopkeepers, shop assistants, tourists, and whoever else came in his way…

Once again, the soil of Port Arthur was bloodied — now, in contemporary times, and by a deranged gunman. From the 1830s to the 1870s, this was the place they called “hell on earth,” where the recidivist convicts of a past era lived and died.

In 1830 Port Arthur was a timber station, but hardly three years later, because it was hemmed in by the sea and access by land was solely through a tiny isthmus at Eaglehawk Neck, it became a prison settlement where the worst of the convicts were thrown, sentenced to work in chain gangs.

Flogging became a way of life — 100 lashes being the normal punishment for, for instance, attempts to escape the penal settlement.

The prison closed in 1877, and in the next two decades the penitentiary and the church were gutted by fire. An attempt was made to erase its convict past by renaming the town Carnarvon, but by 1927 the town was again called Port Arthur.

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