Port Arthur, Tasmania
A cluster of a historic sites in Tasmania, Australia
, comprising of an old penitentiary (now impressive ruins), a "new" prison, coal mines, and a former shipyard. The prison parts of the site undeniably have their dark aspects, even though these too, like the rest of the complex (which is part of Tasmania's "Convict Trail") are more of general historical interest than of more typical dark tourism concern.
What adds a particular contemporary dark element to the place, however, is a much more recent tragedy that took place here, namely in 1996, when a man went on a rampage and randomly killed 35 people at the Port Arthur site as well as its surroundings, using three powerful automatic guns. Unlike in so many such cases, the killer did not shoot himself in the end but was captured, put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment.
At the Port Arthur Historic Site, there is a memorial cross in the Memorial Garden dedicated to the tragedy of 1996.
The shocking event also triggered a nation-wide debate on Australia's legislation allowing private ownership of automatic weapons, with the ultimate outcome that new much stricter gun control laws were passed. (Hey, USA
, listen up!!!)
Access to the site is by private car, e.g. from the nearest city, Hobart (min. 1.5 hours).
Opening times: the open-air parts of the site and the visitor centre are open daily between 8:30 a.m. and dusk, the museums and other buildings between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. There are also after hours/ after dark tours (including "ghost hunts").
Admission: different categories, starting from a "bronze pass" for up to half a day at $30 (students/seniors $25, children $15), including access to all buildings and a 40-minute intro tour but no other extras, a full-day "silver pass" at $68 (concession $63, children $49) includes a choice out of two guided tours and a lunch voucher, and a 2-day "gold pass" for $100 (concession $95, child $77) is the full whammy with everything that is regularly available. In addition there are after-dark "ghost tours" also available in combination with special dinner packages.
in the south-eastern corner of Tasmania, Australia
, 35 miles (55 km) from Hobart as the crow flies (more like twice that on the winding roads).