To celebrate the 2013 Australian Wooden Boat Festival, the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority is offering an exclusive cruising tour to explore Port Arthur's maritime heritage and dockyard, on Friday 8 and Sunday 10 February.
The tour will include rare access to buildings and collections not normally open to the public, as well as guest speakers, lunch, all transport and a special gift.
Today the Port Arthur Dockyard area is silent and almost empty. But if you had been here between 1834 and 1848, you would have found the busiest and most productive ship yard in Van Diemen’s Land.
Convict labourers crafted hundreds of whaleboats, ships’ buoys, brigantines and barques for private and government customers. One of only three dockyards in the British Empire to have used convict labour to build the yard and the ships, it is also the best preserved.
Guests will depart from Brooke St Pier on the Hobart waterfront and cruise on the MV Marana past the soaring sea cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula, including the stunning Cape Raoul.
Upon arrival at Port Arthur guests will be treated to an introductory tour of the World Heritage listed Site and explore the buildings and ruins, museum houses and the convict gallery.
They will continue their journey with a special tour of Port Arthur's Dockyard, including rare access to the 1834 Master Shipwright's House and Clerk of Works' House, where they will view an exclusive exhibition featuring a model of the working dockyard and fascinating archaeological material excavated from the site.
Special guest speakers will offer insights into the operation, heritage and conservation of the dockyard and the importance of the traditional trade of boat building.
Lunch is included and will feature an array of tasty treats; a fresh baked baguette, selection of cold meats and salad with some Tasmanian fruit juice.
Each tour participant will receive a gift copy of the book A Harbour Large Enough to Admit a Whole Fleet - The Maritime History and Archaeology of Port Arthur prior to their transfer back to Hobart by coach.
Places are strictly limited, so early bookings are strongly recommended.
Click here for full details and bookings
Port Arthur is open for business
The Port Arthur Historic Site is open for business and operating at full capacity again following the bushfire emergency that closed the Arthur Highway, the only road access to the Tasman Peninsula, for nearly ten days in early January. Visitors are again enjoying the World Heritage listed attraction in sunny Tasmanian summer weather.
All attractions, activities, facilities and tours are operating normally; guided tours of the Site, the harbour cruise, tours of the Isle of the Dead cemetery and Point Puer Boy’s Prison tour and nightly ghost tours are all available daily. The new, award-winning Paranormal Investigation Experience is available on the last Saturday of each month and our cafés and Felons Bistro are all operating normally.
The bushfire emergency
From prison to refuge...
The Forcett bushfire, which took a devastating toll on property particularly in the seaside towns of Dunalley and Murdunna, started some 50 kms north of the Tasman Peninsula and spread south during record breaking temperatures accompanied by fickle but gusty winds on Friday 4th January. Fortunately, there were no lives lost as a direct result of these bushfires which is likely due to the ‘early warning system’ enacted by the authorities which enables direct alerts to be sent to mobile telephone as well as via other communication modes.
Given the sudden onset and ferocity of the bushfire it was necessary to close the highway and as a result, many of the visitors to the Port Arthur Historic Site that day were not able to return to Hobart. The Port Arthur Historic Site became a safe haven for stranded tourists and local evacuees and was ably supported by a mixture of staff that remained on site as well as local community volunteers who worked to feed, advise and care for stranded visitors and evacuees, and make them as comfortable as possible for the duration. Our tourism industry partners worked steadily to evacuate tourists by boat to Hobart to ensure they were able to continue on their planned trips or return home safely.
The Port Arthur Historic Site is extremely grateful to all those that assisted to take such good care of our guests and local community. Staff and management of the site were pleased to be able to play such an important role during this anxious time and look forward to welcoming those visitors whose plans were disrupted, back to the Port Arthur Historic Site again to enjoy all that we have to offer. The care provided to our unexpected guests was definitely appreciated.
Check out some of the feedback from stranded guests on our Facebook page
Our staff took some photos of those difficult days - click here to see a short slideshow.
Show your support by visiting the region
Local operators need your business
Tourism and business operators in the region agree that one of the best ways to help affected regions overcome the impacts of these fires is for people to visit and spend some time experiencing the world-class activities and attractions available.
Local tourism operators encourage all Tasmanians and visitors from further afield to come back soon and discover what makes this part of the world so special.
The area around Port Arthur, and most of the scenic coastal beauty spots along the way, are undamaged and looking as spectacular as ever.
So please come down soon, and try to spend a night or two and explore all that this amazing region has to offer.
Photo courtesy of The Mercury.
Check the Port Arthur and Tasman Tourism website and new Facebook page for inspiration and information.
Ten Days festival fun at the Historic Site
All the fun of the circus is coming to Port Arthur for one day only as part of Ten Days on the Island festival on Sunday 17 March.
In a dazzling display of physical agility, Australian performance troupe Circa will literally perform 21 circus acts in 20 minutes.
Their head-shaking, furious acrobatics is spell binding, leaving its audience questioning the limits of physical flexibility. But set against a ticking clock this is magic and entertainment revved to the limits.
Its young team who fly, twist, tumble and contort themselves into a knot of limbs is regarded as one of the country’s greatest exports, having entertained 180,000 people in 13 countries in 2011 alone.
Almost embracing pantomime, the three young acrobats race against the clock before leaping to an awaiting vehicle that whisks them to the next stop. This show is as much a challenge to their audience as to those on stage.
Access to the performance is included in the cost of Site entry. Make it a picnic to remember with our gourmet barbecue - the Port Arthur catering team will be there with the famous gourmet barbecue, so make a day of it and bring the family.
See full details and booking information
Isle of the Dead Ocean Swim
Surf Lifesaving Tasmania will conduct a competitive swim around the Isle of the Dead at Port Arthur this Saturday, 9 February. Part of its Ocean Swim Series, the race gets underway at 11am.
See the Surf Lifesaving Tasmania website for more information.
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