Port Arthur is a quaint village, famous for the extensive, well-preserved penal colony buildings at the nearby Port Arthur Historic Site, Australia's most evocative convict site.
The village of Port Arthur, often missed because of the significance of the historic site, is a convenient place to stay for those interested in exploring the site and the nearby spectacular coastline of the Tasman Peninsula.
Port Arthur Historic Site is one of Tasmania's World Heritage listed convict sites and one of Australia's most significant heritage areas. The site has more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes, dating from the prison's establishment in 1830 until its closure in 1877. During this time, more than 12,500 convicts served sentences and for many it was a living hell.
Today, the site sits in 40 hectares of landscaped grounds, so allow plenty of time to experience all it has to offer.
Port Arthur's dark history stands in stark contrast to the beauty of its surroundings and with so much more to experience in the area you may want to stay overnight, particularly as entry passes to the historic site are valid for two days.
Surfing, sea kayaking and bushwalking are popular and the coastline has fascinating geological features and stunning views. Visitors will find many striking rock formations including Tasman Arch and The Blowhole, two of Tasmania's most visited attractions, as well as Waterfall Bay, Remarkable Cave and Tessellated Pavement.
Just 20 km north-west is the World Heritage listed Coal Mines Historic Site, where interpretive signs explain the harsh lives and working conditions of repeat offenders from Port Arthur who worked underground extracting coal.
Port Arthur is just over a 1-hour drive (93 km) south-east of Hobart.