HOBART, Australia -- A $2.7 million visitor center opened at
Tasmania's Port Arthur Historic Site early this year.
The ruins of the Port Arthur penal settlement, east of Hobart on
the Tasman Peninsula, constitute the island's best-known historic
The settlement is visited by 250,000 visitors a year.
Port Arthur housed convicts for 55 years until it closed in
1877. In the 1840s, the site was Tasmania's industrial center, with
convicts providing the labor to produce items ranging from ships
and clothing to furniture and vegetables.
Funded by state and federal governments, the two-story visitor
center includes an interpretation gallery where visitors can follow
the routine of an individual convict.
The center also includes a new restaurant and expanded retail
facilities and parking.
On arrival, visitors are assigned a specific convict identity
from the attraction's database of convict records.
In the interpretation gallery, visitors are sentenced under
their newly assigned identity and then "experience" a day in the
life of a convict at Port Arthur.
Visitors can then tour the 100-acre site, which has more than 30
buildings, including ruins and period-furnished homes.
The price of admission -- about $10 (children are admitted for
half price) -- is valid for two days and includes guided walking
tours and a 20-minute harbor cruise.
Also offered are 30-minute flights by Tasmanian Seaplanes,
motorcoach tours to scenic sites and ghost tours.
According to the attraction, the new center will facilitate the
handling of cruise ship passengers and meetings groups.
The visitor center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to dusk.
Port Arthur Historic Site, Phone: (011) 61-3 6250-2363, Fax:
(011) 61-3 6250-2494