Port Arthur Ghost Tour

Port arthur, tas.

Port Arthur Ghost Tour - Ghost tour at Port Arthur, Tasmania

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Darkness falls, and Port Arthur’s hidden side emerges. This is a different place after sunset, full of mystery and intrigue.

As the sun sets, come out to the dark grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site for your 90-minute, lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Follow your expert guide through some of Port Arthur’s more infamous buildings and ruins, and hear vivid stories of unexplained events that have baffled and alarmed convicts, free settlers, soldiers and visitors.

More than 1000 people died at Port Arthur during its 47-year history as a penal settlement, and some people say that the souls of the departed have never left. Documented ghost stories have been associated with Port Arthur since 1870, and since that time, many people have added to Port Arthur’s haunted reputation with their own accounts of paranormal activity.

As the lantern light guides you through the darkness, and strange stories unfold, you’ll discover Port Arthur’s secrets, and decide for yourself if the tales are true.

  • 90-minute ghost tour

Port Arthur is located at the southern end of the Tasman Peninsula, 90 minutes drive or 95 kilometres south-east of Hobart.

Ghost Tours operate every evening except Christmas Day, and are about 90 minutes in duration.

There are currently no dates listed for this experience. Please make an enquiry by pressing the Send email button above.

Are Ghost Tours suitable for children?

This depends on the age and 'stage' of your children. Ghost Tours are popular with older children. If your child is very young, very active or tends to suffer with nightmares, then Ghost Tours may not be suitable. If your child is disruptive to the tour, your guide will request that you leave the tour.

Tours go ahead if it rains.

Warm and comfortable clothing. Sturdy footwear is essential (no high heels). For safety reasons, umbrellas are not allowed on Ghost Tours, so wet weather clothing is required if the weather is inclement (ponchos are sold at the counter).

This tour is not recommended for those with restricted mobility.

Tickets are not refundable.

Booking is essential as Ghost Tours are very popular.

Military Gaol Paranormal Investigation

All prices, availability and tour and product information are subject to change without notification, and while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the prices, availability and tour and product information displayed on this website they are not guaranteed to be accurate.

Ghost Tour Bookings is not a provider of tours, experiences or products and has no responsibility for any tours, experiences or products provided or not provided by the tour operator, supplier or any other party. The tour operators and suppliers provide services and products directly to customers.

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Port Arthur Ghost Tour – Tasmania’s spookiest experience

  • Last Updated - September 2019

The Port Arthur Historic Site is one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist attractions, but did you know you can do an after-hours Port Arthur Ghost Tour? Keep reading to find out more!

This page contains affiliate links. If you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read our full disclosure policy  here .

Port Arthur Historic Site is one of the Big 12 , and it is a must for any Tasmania road trip.

It is hard to believe that its beautiful grounds could have been such a hell-on-earth for the thousands of convicts shipped to Tasmania as punishment for their crimes.

But it’s true – this was the last place on earth anyone wanted to be sent, and conditions were so brutal that more than 10,000 souls were lost at Port Arthur over the years.

Even back in the 1800s stories were told of strange illnesses, ghostly apparitions and unexplained encounters in its darkest corridors.

Now? You can experience all of this on a Port Arthur Ghost Tour , where more than 200 years later visitors still report bizarre and unexplained phenomena!

Port Arthur Ghost Tour - Goosebumps and ghouls

As the shadows creep closer and the air becomes chill, you meet your fellow victims tour group below an eerie, ruined cathedral. Are you ready for a Port Arthur Ghost Tour ?

Port Arthur has a dark history and there is something about a night time tour that helps you understand what it must have been like for the thousands of convicts that suffered here for so long.

The stories told by your engaging tour guide are haunting.

Heinous murders, basement autopsies,  mysterious deaths and many unexplained paranormal experiences that continue to this day!

Was that the scream of a Tassie devil drifting on the wind…or…something else…?

The lanterns that you carry create a very spooky vibe, and one of the best things about this tour is that you get to explore parts of the Port Arthur Historic Site that you can’t see during the day with a regular ticket.

You’re going to get a little bit creeped out, but at the same time the Port Arthur ghost stories are equal parts fascinating and eye-opening, with a great dash of humour for good measure.

Tours operate Thursday to Saturday, with three start times available each day and taking around 90 minutes total. 

Because they finish so late, I recommend staying overnight near Port Arthur – Stewart’s Bay Lodge and Port Arthur Villas are both excellent – so you don’t run the gauntlet of wild animals on the road back to Hobart at night!

Tours operate in all weather, so don’t worry if the forecast is looking average. There is also plenty of parking out front, for both cars and vans.

>> Book Your Ghost Tour Tickets Here <<

Perfect if…  : You want to learn more about the dark history of Port Arthur (including areas restricted during the day) in a fun and informative way, all while getting your pants scared off you!

  Fast Facts – Port Arthur Ghost Tour

  • Cost : $35 for adults | $18 for children <7yrs | Family and concession tickets available
  • Tour Length : 1.5 hours
  • Dates : Thursday, Friday and Saturday, except Christmas Day
  • Times : Two times per day, with the first tour just after dusk
  • Group Size : Capped at 20 people
  • Ages : Open to all ages, but suggested to be 13 years or older
  • What to wear : Closed shoes and layered clothing is best, and bring a waterproof jacket if rain is forecast
  • Accessibility : Not suitable for wheelchairs
  • Address : Port Arthur Historic Site, Arthur Highway, Port Arthur
  • Parking : Large parking spaces are available for motorhomes and caravans

Day Tours from Hobart

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any companies offering Port Arthur Ghost Tours departing from Hobart.

But, you can do a day tour that includes a tour of Port Arthur Historic Site!

Have a look at these options and book the one that suits you best.

Port Arthur (4hrs) + Tasman NP + Richmond Village - [ Book Here ]

Port Arthur (5hrs) + Richmond Village - [ Book Here ]

Port Arthur (4hrs) + Tassie Devils (Unzoo) + Richmond Village + Tasman NP - [ Book Here ]

Port Arthur (4hrs) + Pennicott's Eco-Cruise (3hrs) - [ Book Here ]

I hope you have found this guide really useful and that you’re soul’d on the idea of a Port Arthur Ghost Tour.

Happy travels,

Travel planning resources

Tasmania’s remote location means there are internet ‘black spots’ across the island. 

A hard copy travel guide or map is the perfect backup, and we love the range from Lonely Planet.

Guide to Tasmania

Map of tasmania, road trip guide.

Like it? Pin it!

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community as the traditional owners  and continuing custodians  of  this island lutruwita (Tasmania).

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night tour port arthur

Port Arthur Ghost Tours

Port Arthur Convict Church by night

Port Arthur can seem a very different place after sunset, full of mystery and intrigue. Join a lantern-lit walking tour to experience the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site by night.

After sharing the hidden side of the convict settlement for more than 20 years, Port Arthur remains Australia’s ‘must-do’ ghost tour experience.

Rich storytelling and pathways through darkened ruins and heritage buildings reveal bizarre occurrences during Port Arthur’s history, baffling and alarming convicts, soldiers, residents and many of our visitors today.

The 90-minute tour covers a distance of two kilometres. Due to the limited access through the dark recesses of our heritage buildings, the Ghost Tour is not suitable for people with restricted mobility and is not wheelchair accessible.

Port Arthur Ghost Tours operate after dark every Wednesday to Saturday (except Christmas night). Departure times change throughout the season so check the website for details.

Tours are limited to 25 people, bookings are essential.

Port Arthur Ghost Tours operate in most weather conditions, so make sure you’re prepared for the conditions.

  • Port Arthur Historic Site Port Arthur Visitor Centre Port Arthur Tasmania 7182
  • 1800 659 101
  • Accreditation , Activities , ATEC COVID Ready/ WTTC Safe Travels Stamp , Australian Tourism Export Council , China Ready and Accredited Program , COVID Clean Practicing Business , COVID Safe , Entity Facility , Free Wifi , History & Heritage , Internet Access Point , Membership , Quality Tourism Accreditation , Regional Tourist/Tourism Association/Organisation , Tags , Walks

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We acknowledge the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their enduring custodianship of lutruwita / Tasmania. We honour 40,000 years of uninterrupted care, protection and belonging to these islands, before the invasion and colonisation of European settlement.

As a destination that welcomes visitors to these lands, we acknowledge our responsibility to represent to our visitors, Tasmania’s deep and complex history, fully, respectfully and truthfully.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people who continue to care for this country today. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present. We honour their stories, songs, art, and culture, and their aspirations for the future of their people and these lands. We respectfully ask that tourism be a part of that future.

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The Creative Adventurer

Free Self-Guided Tour of Haunting Historic Port Arthur, Tasmania

night tour port arthur

Driving up to  Port Arthur , even during the light of day, is an ominous approach. Tasmania’s history is steeped in the development of convict sites made to house inmates who came in from Britain. The building of these penitentiaries brought inmates to the shores of Tasmania and new British residence and industry to the otherwise only indigenous occupied land. Five convict sites in Tasmania have been recorded as UNESCO World Heritage sites and places of enormous historical relevance. And Port Arthur is one of the best-preserved Australian Convict sites you can still visit today.

This complex gives a fantastic and haunting look back in time at Tasmania’s penal colony past. Port Arthur was the first of any Australian convict site I visited. And although I thought I was prepared for what I would see, nothing could have prepared me for how powerful this historic site could be.

night tour port arthur

The New Penitentiary

night tour port arthur

Aboriginal History

Before the colonization of Tasmania by the British, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, self-name Palawa , lived rich lives here on the shores of the south coast. The clan that lived on the south peninsula were called the Pydarerme . These aboriginal people are entirely different from those in Australia since Tasmania was cut off from the mainland 10,000 years ago. Before the British colonization, there were around 3,000–15,000 Palawa that lived off this land. But by 1835, only 400 full-blooded Palawa people survived, mainly due to the impact of diseases introduced by the British. But this doesn’t mean the British were free from violent culpability; the British invaders also incarcerated many of the Palawa people in camps where they also died.

The absolute abolishment of the aboriginal Tasmanian people has been deemed a genocide as per the UN’s definition. Today, there are only a few thousand remaining Palawa, mainly mixed with European blood from the British settlers. Although the original Tasmanian language has been lost, there is an effort to rebuild it and restore much of the history ripped from the indigenous people of Tasmania. We need to remember the land’s past when visiting sites like this and recall that the convict history, while seemingly ancient, is actually very modern when compared to the thousands of years of history of the Palawa people.

night tour port arthur

History of Port Arthur

In 1830, Governor Sir George Arthur was sent to Van Diemen’s Land to build a penal settlement for convicts from Britain and Ireland. Van Diemen’s Land was the name given to Tasmania when Dutch explorers claimed the land and named it to honour Anthony van Diemen , the current Dutch Governor-General. At the site, the most hardened criminals came to stay. The worst of the worst as being sent to the other side of the world was seen as the most severe punishment, save for execution. For this reason, Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures and most brutal punishments.

But Port Arthur was also a working prison. Authorities wanted to see these convicts reformed through a combination of religions, education and training in a variety of trades. This meant that the prison was known as an “industrial prison”. Port Arthur began as a timber camp; the location was rich with forests and close enough to Hobart’s main port to ship out the timber. After 15 years, the prison built a shipyard and began constructing shops. The prisoners also produced flour from the mill and made nails, bricks and boots all for sale to ensure the prison was profitable.

night tour port arthur

Life in the Prison

Port Arthur was reputed to be an inescapable prison. It was located on this peninsula that is surrounded on all sides by supposedly shark-infested waters. The only way to the mainland is across a 30-meter wide isthmus guarded by both soldiers, half-starved dogs and man-made traps. Only two prisoners were known to have escaped. One failed escape took place when a prisoner disguised himself using a kangaroo hide.

night tour port arthur

The prisoners’ conditions were so dire that they would even murder another inmate just to escape their situation. Murder was punishable by death and some would prefer this to staying any longer at Port Arthur. Savage floggings and brutal chain gangs were reported by the prisons when they returned back to England. It had a genuine reputation of being “hell on earth.” Any prisoner who attempted to escape would suffer 100 lashes. The prisoners would get horrible infections in their squalid living conditions. Often, these infections got so bad, that they lead to the death of the inmates.

But it wasn’t the corporal punishments that were the worst part of life at the prison. No, Port Arthur was one of the first Australian prisons to implement the “silent system”. This meant placing prisoners into individual cells where they were kept quiet for 23 hours a day. They got to leave their cell for one hour a day but were made to wear a hood anytime they were outside to ensure they never saw another human face. Although it wasn’t their intended outcome, this sent many prisoners mad. Eventually, an asylum was built to deal with the mental illness created by these inhumane conditions.

night tour port arthur

The Massacre at Port Arthur

In 1996, long after the prison had closed down and turned into a tourist attraction, Port Arthur was once more the site of great suffering. It was here that Australia found itself at the center of their worst mass shooting event in the country’s history. A lone shooter killed 35 innocent people, wounded 32 others and scarred an entire nation. It was this event that changed the course of Australia’s gun laws forever and since then they have never had another mass shooting. Today, the event is quietly remembered by transforming the old cafeteria where most of the shooting took place into a sombre, garden and reflecting pond. Although thinking back to these events is so haunting, it’s important to understand just how much suffering is soaked into the grounds of Port Arthur.

Practical Information

Hours and admission.

Adult tickets cost $40 AUS, and children are $18 AUS. Your ticket into Port Arthur includes entry to the museum, a 40-minute walking tour, a harbour cruise, and access to 30 different historic buildings. The site is open seven days a week, from 10:00am – 5:00pm. They are only closed on Christmas Day.

COVID-19 Protocols: Tickets must be booked online   prior to your visit. Click here for more information on their COVID-19 safety precautions.

Port Arthur is located on the Tasman Peninsula. Driving over to see the site provides some incredible views of Tasmania’s famously scenic coastline. Port Arthur is a 90-minute drive from Hobart. If you are making the Great Eastern Drive, you can easily make a short detour to Port Arthur before arriving in Hobart.

Accessibility

While the Port Arthur Historic Site’s rugged terrain might seem like it would be impossible to visit with a wheelchair, the site has made extensive efforts to make it more accessible for visitors. Some areas offer independent wheelchair access, while others may require assisted access. The Visitor Centre, café, restaurant and the Port Arthur Gallery are all wheelchair accessible via ramps or elevator. Accessible bathroom facilities are also available within the Visitor Centre.

Not all historic buildings and ruins are wheelchair accessible. Ask Visitor Services staff to find out which ones are safe to enter. The introductory Tour and Harbour Cruise are both wheelchair accessible. There are also wheelchairs available for loan from the Visitor Centre.

night tour port arthur

When you enter the site and pass through the admission building you will get a paper map but I found this google map helpful as well. Since you can download it onto your phone you’ll be able to get real-time locations as you make your way around so you can easily check what site you are nearby.

Visitor Center

Entry into Port Arthur begins inside the Visitors Center. The Visitors Center acts as an introductory museum with artifacts and information about the prison’s founding and life inside. One of the best parts is the minature model that recreates the complex as it would have been during its heyday. This gives you a great visual idea of how the entire place would have looked long before it was left to ruin. Throughout the museum, there are lots of displays that focus on the brutal punishments the prisoners suffered. Seeing these implements of torture up close and personal sends a chill down your spine.

night tour port arthur

Life Lottery

Inside the Visitor Center, be sure to pick up a ‘Prisoner Card.’ This will assign you to the fate of one of the real-life prisoners who came to Port Arthur. This is called the “Life Lottery”. At the end of the tour inside the visitors center, you can discover how your inmate lived or died or even perhaps was one of the few who escaped life in Port Arthur. The different cards change the way you are lead throughout the convict gallery and really make the experience more interactive!

My inmate was William Thompson, a shoemaker and thief who was sent to Port Arthur for breaking into a house. He served four years at Port Arthur. Despite his relatively common crime, his experience as the prisoner was marred by a violent accident he witnessed inside the coal mines. He was forced to work inside the mines for 12 months. Eventually, he was removed to the shoemaking shop where he could apply his trade. Once released from prison, he moved to Hobart, where he met his wife, and they started a family. They went on to have seven children, and today their descendants make up the fabric of the population of Tasmania.

night tour port arthur

Government Gardens

Despite being a site of such sadness and violence, the Government Gardens are a beautiful place to visit. These were designed in 1846 as a place where visitors and resident families could escape the prison’s overwhelming terror. The gardens were laid out in a symmetrical and tidy fashion to communicate the ideals of order, peace and beauty that the prison wanted to exemplify. Plants found throughout the garden are mainly from England. The ex-pats wanted to bring a little bit of home to the employees and their families who had moved from Britain. Perhaps walking through the gardens, they could for a moment imagine they were back home. Everything from violets to foxgloves now grows throughout the area.

Government Cottage

The Government Cottage was where the senior officers and their families lived while stationed at Port Arthur. This residence was located a ways away from the prisoners, separated by the large Government Gardens. This was seen as a luxury and was saved for only the most important employees. Many of the wives who lived here also helped wash, saw and provide nursing care for the men on the island. Their children even could attend the nearby Free School where they were educated onsite.

The Church  was where the convict would gather every Sunday for their mandatory religious reform. Here up to 1100 people would cram themselves into the church’s doors to listen to spiritual services. The church itself was built by prisoners in 1837. Although the builders were amateurs, they attempted their best adaptation of the gothic style. The stones used for the church walls were made by the young boys from the nearby Point Puer island prison.

night tour port arthur

The church was never consecrated to allow a multi-denominational service to be held inside. The church was destroyed by bushfires in 1895. All we are left with is the haunting brick skeleton.

night tour port arthur

Scorpion Rock Lookout

A little trail leads from the edge of the church up the hillside towards Scorpion Rock Lookout . From up here, there is a wonderful viewpoint over the entire prison complex. From here, you can really get a sense of the layout of the prison.

night tour port arthur

Parsonage House

Back onto the prison grounds, we approach the white picket fences and burnt orange exterior of the Parsonage House. A large street, called Civil Officers Row, was used to separate the convict population from the officers and their families. The more senior officers living quarters were built the furthest away to ensure they had some separation between work life and home life. The Parsonage was built in 1842 for Reverend Durham and his family. Durham was Irish and had a fiery temper. He would often get into squabbles with the Catholic convicts and even the church Chaplin. Eventually, Durham returned to Ireland. When he returned home, he was committed to an asylum. Oe can only imagine the kind of things he experiences at Port Arthur that would have affected his mind so much that he had to be committed.

Durham was replaced by Reverend George Eastman arrived with his wife, Louise and their 10 children. Eastman had served at other prisons, so he came with a bit of experience and had a kinder attitude towards the inmates. Reverend George Eastman fell ill in 1870 but, despite his sickness, continued to treat the sick prisoners. In his weakened state, he caught a cold from his work and died inside the Parsonage in 1870.

night tour port arthur

Accountant’s House

The Accountant’s House was built in 1843. It was designed to house the officer in charge of the supply of food and equipment into the prison. The house was purchased in 1889 and used as a school. The owner of the house took great pains to save the place from the bushfires, which is why we are left with such a well-preserved original structure today.

Junior Officer’s Cottage

Across the street, we find the  Junior Medical Officer’s Cottage . The Junior Officer’s Cottage, also known as the Junior Medical Officer’s house, was one of the most luxurious houses located on the premises. Initially, the junior officer who first moved in here lived in a condemned house with his wife. They were threatening to resign if they didn’t get somewhere nicer to live. So this building was designed to accommodate them in 1848. In early 1900, this cottage was restored and was opened as a hotel, which is why it is in such good condition. Today, it remains one of the best examples of Australian Georgian architecture. You can go inside and tour the beautiful interiors that give you an idea of the furnishings available on the island.

Chaplain & Magistrate’s Houses

At the back of Officer’s Row, we find the resident Chaplain’s House and the visiting Magistrate’s Cottage. The Magistrate’s cottage was built in 1847 for 88 pounds, making it the most extensive and most expensive historic house on the grounds. The Magistrate was the judicial official vested with limited judicial powers. He would frequent the site to ensure everything was being run to the highest standards. Therefore it was essential to impress the visiting Magistrate with a lavish abode. After the prison closed down, the house was turned into the “ Clougha Hotel .” It was advertised as a secluded escape with orchards, a nearby boating area and a shooting range. Today the interiors have been fully restored, and the space is mainly used as a meeting space for the museum staff.

The Chaplain’s House survived the bushfires of 1895 and 1897 and was bought up as a part of “Hotel Arthur.” The hotel complex couldn’t afford to restore the dilapidated interiors, so today, the houses can be simply viewed from the street.

Trentham Cottage

Walk down Tramway Street, passing Bond Street until you reach the Trentham Cottage. Trentham Cottage was built in 1898, late in the prison’s history. In fact, this is one of the buildings constructed after the convict era in Port Arthur.

Soldiers’ Memorial Avenue

The long row of trees was planted here in honour of the men from Carnarvon and Oakwood who served in the First World War and was named the “Soldiers’ Memorial Avenue”. Soldiers’ Memorial Avenue is a peaceful walk in the wood, leading up to the most ominous buildings in the complex.

night tour port arthur

Certain inmates who were taken to the prison were considered “mentally unstable” and therefore unable to be processed with the rest of the population. So this Asylum was built to house the “lunatics,” as they were once called. But the treatment of mental health back then was basically nonexistent, so these poor individuals were left to rot away in their single cells. Some of the prisoners housed in the nearby Separate Prison went insane during their time in solitary confinement. They simply moved from one part of the prison to another as their mental state got worse and worse.

night tour port arthur

A visitor to the Asylum reported that there were only two kinds of inmates in the Asylum. There were those who were catatonic and could barely move or speak, or those who were violently deranged and beyond the point of being able to be rehabilitated. It must truly have been a horrific place to both visit and be incarcerated. After the bush fires of 1895, the building was rebuilt and turned into a community center. Now the building serves as a cafe and a small museum. It seems pretty odd to be drinking a coffee in such a place of torture and mistreatment.

night tour port arthur

Separate Prison

The Separate Prison was better known as the solitary confinement building. Solitary confinement was a new method of punishment brought to Port Arthur in the early days of the prison. It was here that the convicted would be locked inside a solitary cell for 23 hours a day. During their one hour outside of their cell, they would be forced to walk around the high-walled yard, also alone, as each prisoner was given a different time of day to do their exercises. When the inmates left their cells, a hood would be placed on their heads so they couldn’t even see the guards or other prisoners. The guards on duty would use sign language to communicate to ensure the men never even heard voices. This, of course, meant so many of the men went mad, in much higher percentages than in other prison systems.

night tour port arthur

The people who ran Port Arthur seemed unmoved and continued with the abusive process. Some men were known to have been kept in separate prisons for as long as 14 years! Shockingly, after the prison closed down, the Separate Prison was sold off in the attempt to be converted into a hotel! A fire put a stop to the renovations, and now the old cells’ historic appearance still remain. Personally, I can’t imagine staying in what was once an old prison. But I suppose there is a market for that, even today.

night tour port arthur

The Hospital

Walking back to the main street towards the Penitentiary, you’ll pass the old hospital’s ruins on your right. The hospital was frequented very often by inmates. The poor conditions in prison made diseases like the common cold and other respiratory illnesses easily transmissible. This was mainly due to the cells being so cold and the criminals being forced to work outdoors in all weather conditions.

night tour port arthur

Smith O’Brien’s Cottage

Off in the distance, behind the hospital, you’ll see a buttercream yellow brick building; this is the Smith O’Brien’s Cottage. William Smith O’Brien was an Irish politician and leader of the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. He was first sent to Maria Island , and once he was there for a short time, he was transferred to Port Arthur. As he was somewhat of a celebrity and a very obedient prisoner, the commanders at Port Arthur had a little cottage built for his year-long residents. The building used for his cottage was originally an old stable which was converted in 1850. The building was sold off in 1940 and used as a youth hostel in the 1970s.

The Penitentiary

The large Penitentiary stands near the water’s edge. Although its roof has long since fallen in, the thick bricked exterior remains as a study silhouette against the rest of the landscape. The building fell into ruins after a massive bushfire gutted the interior. Before Port Arthur became a historic site, residents of the area would come here to steal bricks to build their houses and sheds. So you never know when a place you’ll be staying might be made from the bricks of the old Penitentiary.

night tour port arthur

The Old Mill

When the building was first established in 1845, it wasn’t made for housing but as a prisoners’ grainery. Here grain was milled for flour. The flour was then shipped to Hobart to be sold off in the hopes of making the prison more financially stable. When the water pressure wasn’t strong enough, prisoners were made to walk on a giant treadmill that helped power the mill. Despite the prison’s best efforts to make the mill a viable business, there were simply too many problems. Eventually, it was converted to the new Penitentiary.

night tour port arthur

In its heyday, the building would have housed over 600 prisoners. The upper floors were dedicated to the “well behaved” prisoners. They slept in a huge dormitory and had access to a prisoner library, schoolroom and large dining hall. On the western side of the building, a kitchen and bakery served both the prisoners and the workers alike. The bottom level of the prison was for the so-called “lions”. These were violent offenders and those who didn’t obey the prison system. They each slept in individual cells, cut off from the rest of the population. This served as a warning before they were sent off to the dreaded Separate Prison.

Walking through these huge ruins is such a powerful part of the tour. One can really imagine how many men would have served here and if you close your eyes you can even imagine how loud this space once would have been.

night tour port arthur

Guard Tower

Walk west, towards the water where you’ll find the large Guard Tower. The guard tower was where the prison security officers would keep a lookout for any potential escapees. The guard tower was built with some of the same stonework as the church, made by the boys on the island. Due to the stone’s materials, this building withstood the large bushfire, which ravaged most of the settlement in 1895. The basement of the guard tower was used as an ammunition storeroom.

night tour port arthur

The Commandant Residence

Sitting adjacent to the Guard Tower, we find the old Commandant Residence . The Commandant was the prison’s most senior officer. As the most senior officer, they were designated to have the best residence on the grounds. The house was built in 1833, although it was nothing more than a simple wood cottage. The house’s location allowed the Commandant to look out over the rest of the settlement from the beautiful wrap-around veranda.

In 1854, the new Commandant, James Boyd, made a significant expansion to the house. He installed new brickwork and created enough space for 8 new rooms and even a servant’s quarters. You can still tour the interior, which has been preserved in its original 1850’s appearance.

Memorial Garden

Walking towards the Dockyards , you approach the Memorial Garden nestled into the edge of the hillside. This sombre water pond and surrounding garden were established in honour of the lives lost during the April 1996 mass shooting tragedy. During the ramage, 20 people, including both employees and tourists, were killed at this location alone. In total, 35 people were killed. Among the people who died here were members of the Historic Site staff, who died trying to protect others. The Memorial Gardens were designed inside the old Broad Arrow Cafe’s footprint where the killings took place. The building was demolished as it was too painful of memory, but the building’s outline can still be made out. Be sure to spend a few quiet moments here to remember those that passed.

night tour port arthur

Since one of the facility’s objectives was to teach men trades, one of the most important jobs of the time was shipbuilding. Although it was just convicts building these ships, it was reported that the boats that came out of Port Arthur were some of the best made in the nation. Convicts were responsible for building 16 large-scale vessels and over 150 smaller boats. In addition to creating new ships, they also repaired older ships in the dockyards. The prisoners learned everything from carpentry, blacksmithing, learning to be caulkers and coopers, in addition to assembling timber for production.

The dockyards were operational from 1834 to 1848. The only reason the dockyard was closed down was that the shipbuilders union complained that it was putting them out of business. Since the labour was free, as the workers were criminals, and the quality was so good, the ships cost vastly less to make than elsewhere. Another reason for the closure was that the learning of trades was optional as a form of rehabilitation. Many prisoners began to refuse to learn to build the ships as a means of rebellion.

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Puer Boy’s Prison

Included in your admission is a 20-minute harbour cruise that runs from the Jetty to Point Puer Boy’s Prison and finally to the Island of the Dead . Puer Boy’s Prison was built as a reformatory for juveniles from the British Empire. These boys were aged 14 to 17, but there are records of boys as young as 9 being sent to prison. In fact, 10 to 20% of the arrivals on the island were made up of young boys. Their prison was located on the island to separate them from the older convicts. This was done in order to prevent the older inmates from influencing the younger generation.

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But their separation may also have contributed to the high mortality rates. Children on this island were known to have many diseases and suffered from poor nutrition. Injuries were commonly reported as a result of their laborious punishments. This labour included tree felling, coal-mining, road making and stonework. Since they were so far away from the mainland, the observation of the prison was often forgotten about and therefore these poor conditions continued. Unfortunately, no buildings remain at the site but wandering the now overgrown island is still a haunting place to visit. The prison once contained a barracks, two cell blocks, two exercise yards and two school rooms.

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Isle of the Dead

Across from the boy’s prison site, on a small island, is the Isle of the Dead . This island is the resting place of all those who died inside the prison. It is home to 1,646 graves, but only 180 of those graves are marked. The marked graves are for the prison staff and military personnel. All the prisoners received unmarked graves. You can make your way around the island, but be sure to be respectful on your journey.

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One of the best ways to experience the darker side of Port Arthur is at night. Specifically at one of their evening lantern-lit ghost tours . The ghost tours are even more popular than the regular site tours, and they book up fast, so best to book that tour well in advance. Since the site was such a place of pain and suffering it is the perfect location for hauntings. Whether you believe in ghosts or not the storytelling that takes place here is phenomenal and seeing the site at night is a really unique experience.

If you are interested in doing the ghost tour yourself, I have an excellent self-guided tour . Please be aware that you can ONLY enter the site at night by guided tour, so if you want to do the ghost tour yourself, you’ll have to do it during the day. But trust me, this site is spooky enough to send chills down your spine any time of the day.

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Port Arthur Motor Inn & Restaurant

I would recommend staying at the Port Arthur Motor Inn . Although the accommodations are fairly basic, as it is a 3-star motor inn, the location is what you’re there for. The rooms look out over the old historic site and getting to fall asleep and wake up to that view is something truly spectacular. Since there is a restaurant inside the motel, you can even get a reasonably decent meal right to your room to enjoy while looking out over the old prison. It sounds spooky, but it’s actually rather scenic.

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Let me know in the comments if you’ve visited the site before or what part of the tour you are most looking forward to!

Happy Travels, Adventurers!

night tour port arthur

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Curious Tourists and Modern-Day Druids: Marking the Solstice at Stonehenge

To celebrate the celestial event, the ropes come down at the ancient monument, and visitors spend the night to greet the sunrise.

At night, the Stonehenge monument is bathed in purple light and a crowd of people is moving around it. To the left of the photograph there is a faint pink tinge in the sky, which might be the sun.

By Lisa Lucas

In the predawn darkness, a procession of druid priests in white robes carry banners by the monoliths of Stonehenge, the ancient British archaeological site. There is an aroma of burning sage; a bagpipe calls in the distance. As dawn approaches, fever-pitched drumming mounts. If you hadn’t already felt the power in the stones at this summer solstice celebration, there is no denying the physical vibration as the sun rises in alignment with the stone circle.

Most of the time, visiting Stonehenge — which is owned by the British crown and managed by English Heritage , a nonprofit that oversees more than 400 of the country’s historic sites — requires purchasing tickets and keeping far away from the stones, which are normally cordoned off by ropes. But since 2000, four times a year, on the solstices and equinoxes, the ropes come down and visitors are invited to wander the stone circle, staying overnight and past sunrise if they wish.

On Thursday, to mark this year’s summer solstice, the monument opened at 7 p.m., as visitors began arriving on shuttle buses from nearby Salisbury, a trip that took most of an hour in traffic. The rules were strict: Blankets for picnics and warmth are allowed, but no camping equipment or chairs. Snacks are OK. Alcohol is prohibited.

The crowd ebbed and flowed, with an evening wave of tourists who came to picnic, then left before nightfall. People staying overnight faced evening temperatures of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit without shelter. Those who stayed drummed, chanted and communed with the stones, which were lit by a nearly full moon and purple floodlights. Flower crowns topped many heads. The intensity built through the night and picked up with faster drumming and chanting when the sky lightened just before 4 a.m.

There were also food trucks offering wood-fired pizzas, loaded fries, curries and doughnuts, and a merch tent for souvenirs.

Arthur Pendragon, 70, a modern-day druid (the ancient druids were Celtic priests), wore white robes with an embroidered red dragon, chunky silver rings and a silver dragon crown. He called the stones “a cathedral.” Charlotte Pulver, 45, an apothecary from Hastings who specializes in natural remedies, has been coming to the site for 12 years. She said it feels “special to gather in community to honor these tides and alignments of the earth.” Some American tourists in the U.K. to see Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour had “decided to swing by.” In all, about 15,000 people visited.

Crowds walked the interior of the circle, touching the sarsens (sarsen refers to the type of sandstone used at Stonehenge) placed here around 4,500 years ago. Some held ceremonies, welcoming the new season with chants of “heart to heart and hand to hand.” Some placed their hands on the stones and closed their eyes, seeming to draw power from them. The surfaces are gray and uneven, scarred with graffiti from the Bronze Age and, on one, a carved signature from Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The orange powder sprayed on them in a climate protest on Wednesday had already been washed away.

The monument has been credited to various groups over its history, including Phoenicians, druids and Romans. Jennifer Wexler, a historian for English Heritage who specializes in prehistoric sites, said that the archaeological consensus is that Stonehenge was built in stages and used differently over thousands of years, from the late Neolithic period to the early Bronze Age, or between about 3000 B.C. and 1500 B.C.

The druid link is hazy but is undoubtedly part of Stonehenge’s modern identity. In the 17th century, one of the early excavators suggested that the druids were the likely builders. Even after this was disproved (the earliest known references to the druids date to the 4th century B.C., well after research suggests Stonehenge was built), the idea stuck.

It’s fitting that a modern group, inspired by the past, has co-opted Stonehenge for its own use. As the archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes wrote in a 1967 essay titled “God in the Machine”: “Every age has the Stonehenge it deserves — or desires.” The poet William Blake called it a “building of eternal death.”

Appreciation of the sun and the solstice echoes down the centuries in Britain, with references in Anglo-Saxon literature and ties to the Medieval mystery plays. Of course, there’s also Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Britain’s relatively northern position means there is less than six hours of light in midwinter, but at the solstice the sun rises before 5 a.m. and doesn’t set until almost 9:30 at night.

Dr. Wexler, the English Heritage historian, said the solstice alignment is at the center of Stonehenge’s design. This is perhaps not surprising given how prominent the sky and seasonal rhythms would have been in the late Neolithic period: the movement of the sun and the stars dominated life.

Druid Chris Park, 51, a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids from Oxfordshire, is an artist and beekeeper. He said he sees the solstice as something that transcends religions and nationalities because it is accessible to all and therefore “can unify us in meaningful moments of peace and celebration.”

At 4:52 a.m. on Thursday, standing in a field on Salisbury Plain, with druids in white robes and tourists wrapped in blankets, we were all looking in one direction at the same time (albeit some of us through phone screens). This collective attention to the sun was a link to each other and to those who stood in this place 5,000 years ago to gaze at the sun from the same angle — appreciating darkness giving way to light.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Ljubljana, Slovenia:  Stroll along the river, explore a contemporary art scene and admire panoramic views in this scenic Central European capital .

Cities With Great Beaches:  Already been to Miami, Honolulu and Sydney? These five other coastal destinations  are vibrant on land and on the water.

Southern France:  The Canal du Midi traverses the Occitanie region and gives cyclists of all skill levels  access to parts of France that are rich in lore .

Port Antonio, Jamaica:  The D.J. and music producer Diplo recommends spots in a city he loves  on Jamaica’s northeast coast. A dance party makes the cut.

New Mexico:  Visiting the vast and remote Gila Wilderness, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, is both inspiring and demanding .

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A Port Arthur Guide in uniform gestures towards the ruins of the Penitentiary watched in interest by two visitors

Port Arthur Essentials Tour

A machine to grind rogues honest, this experience is available in addition to port arthur entry.

Read more about site entry or buy tickets

Port Arthur was a bold experiment and ground-breaking attempt at reform of convicts in the colony.

Join our expert guide as they share the essential history and characters who lived, worked, and served their time here.

The Port Arthur Essentials Tour runs for approximately 45 minutes and is our most accessible tour with only a few hundred metres of walking over reasonably flat even ground.

Tours depart from the Visitor Centre daily at 9:30am, 10:30am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 3:45pm.

Adult $10 Child $5 Family $30

In addition to site entry

night tour port arthur

History is for everyone and Port Arthur has welcomed families for many generations.  If you are travelling with kids to Port Arthur, the site offers stories, activities and plenty of...

night tour port arthur

How much does it cost to visit the Port Arthur Historic Site?Our current admission prices are listed on the Port Arthur Entry page while prices of additional tours, enhancing your...

photograph of a cruise ship anchored in the bay at Port Arthur

Cruise Ship Arrivals at Port Arthur

Port Arthur has a naturally deep harbour which lended itself perfectly to the arrival of large ships back in the convict era. Port Arthur even operated its own Dockyard from...

historic image for Port Arthur talks

Port Arthur Talks

The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority presents this semi-regular series of talks by authoritative speakers on a variety of topics, ranging from history and conservation to environmental issues, research...

night tour port arthur

WHILE YOU’RE HERE

EXPLORE OUR OTHER SITES

Port Arthur Historic Site is a 90-minute drive from nipaluna / Hobart, and the journey offers some of the best sightseeing in lutruwita / Tasmania. Visit The Coal Mines Historic Site at Saltwater River, and visit The Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart upon your return.

Cascades Female Factory

Cascades Female Factory Historic Site aims to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the largely untold story of female convicts and their children.

Coal Mines Historic Site

The Coal Mines Historic Site is an outstanding example of the 19th-century European global strategy of using the forced labour of convicts.

Acknowledgement of country

We would like to acknowledge that the Port Arthur Historic Site is built on unceded Aboriginal land. We pay respect to the Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) Community, their Elders past and present.

IMAGES

  1. Port Arthur Ghost Tour departing Hobart

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  2. Port Arthur Ghost Tour

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  3. Port Arthur Ghost Tours: 2018 All You Need to Know Before You Go (with

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  4. Port Arthur Ghost Tours

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  5. Port Arthur Tour

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  6. Port Arthur Ghost Tour

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VIDEO

  1. PORT ARTHUR ep. 24 #ww2 #escuelanaval #historia

COMMENTS

  1. Ghost Tour

    As the sun sets, come out to the dark grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site for your 90-minute, lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Follow your expert guide through some of Port Arthur's more infamous buildings, ruins and hear vivid stories of unexplained events that have baffled and alarmed convicts, free settlers, soldiers and visitors. More than ...

  2. Port Arthur Ghost Tours

    The national award-winning Port Arthur Historic Site takes on a whole different feel once the sun goes down. Join your guide by the light of a lantern as you wander through the historic ruins with tales of mystery, murder and unexplained phenomenon. Port Arthur Ghost Tours start after dark Wednesday - Saturday (excluding Christmas Day) and run ...

  3. Port Arthur Ghost Tour

    A 90 minute, lantern-lit tour of Port Arthur after dark, the Ghost Tour gives you exclusive nighttime access to the World Heritage-listed historic site. Experienced guides tell stories of the paranormal documented from convict times to modern-day while leading you through some of Port Arthur's most haunted buildings and ruins.

  4. Port Arthur Ghost Tour 2024

    Brave an after-hours visit to one of Australia's most haunted locations on this spine-chilling 1.5-hour walking tour. Enjoy a lantern-lit tour of the Port Arthur Historic Site and uncover the harrowing history of the UNESCO-listed convict site. Hear terrifying tales of ghosts and paranormal activity that date back to the 19th-century and listen out for ghostly footsteps as you tiptoe around ...

  5. Port Arthur Ghost Tour

    90 minutes. Port Arthur, TAS. Darkness falls, and Port Arthur's hidden side emerges. This is a different place after sunset, full of mystery and intrigue. As the sun sets, come out to the dark grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site for your 90-minute, lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Follow your expert guide through some of Port Arthur's more ...

  6. Port Arthur Ghost Tour

    Fast Facts - Port Arthur Ghost Tour. Cost: $35 for adults | $18 for children <7yrs | Family and concession tickets available. Tour Length: 1.5 hours. Dates: Thursday, Friday and Saturday, except Christmas Day. Times: Two times per day, with the first tour just after dusk. Group Size: Capped at 20 people.

  7. Port Arthur Ghost Tour 2023

    Brave an after-hours visit to one of Australia's most haunted locations on this spine-chilling 1.5-hour walking tour. Enjoy a lantern-lit tour of the Port Arthur Historic Site and uncover the harrowing history of the UNESCO-listed convict site. Hear terrifying tales of ghosts and paranormal activity that date back to the 19th-century and listen out for ghostly footsteps as you tiptoe around ...

  8. Shades of Port Arthur

    TOUR TIMES. Shades of Port Arthur is a special OFF Season daytime ghost tour that departs the Port Arthur Visitor Centre at 3:30pm every Saturday until 31 August. Tours run approximately 90 minutes. SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. Shades of Port Arthur operates during daylight hours and is considered family-friendly. However if your child is very young ...

  9. Port Arthur Ghost Tour 2022

    Take a lantern-lit ghost tour of the Port Arthur Historic Site, one of the most haunted locations in Australia! Hear spooky tales about this UNESCO World Heritage-listed former penal colony, including chilling paranormal encounters from the present day, and enjoy after-hours access to Port Arthur's atmospheric grounds and buildings.

  10. 2024 Port Arthur Ghost Tour provided by Port Arthur Historic Site

    Stop: 90 minutes - Admission included. This guided 90 minute Ghost Tour covers approx 2km of the Historic Site with exclusive access after dark. Follow your expert Guide through buildings and ruins and hear vivid stories of unexplained events that have baffled and alarmed convicts, free settlers, soldiers and visitors.

  11. Home

    As the sun sets, come out to the dark grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site for your 90-minute, lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Follow your expert guide through some of Port Arthur's more infamous buildings, ruins and hear vivid stories of unexplained events. Tour Times. Tours currently depart at 6:00pm and 8:00pm. Pricing. Adult: $35 Child: $18

  12. Port Arthur Ghost Tours

    Port Arthur can seem a very different place after sunset, full of mystery and intrigue. Join a lantern-lit walking tour to experience the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site by night. After sharing the hidden side of the convict settlement for more than 20 years, Port Arthur remains Australia's 'must-do' ghost tour experience.

  13. Port Arthur Ghost Tours

    Port Arthur Ghost Tours, Taranna, Tasmania. 6,828 likes · 11 talking about this · 11,482 were here. After night falls, the history can feel very close indeed! Tasmania's original and best Ghost Tour,

  14. An Exciting & Haunting Self-Guided Tour of Port Arthur's Ghosts

    Port Arthur is the definition of Tasmania Gothic. Walking into the site, during the day or at night, you are almost overcome with the atmosphere of foreboding as the echoes of the site's dark past creep over the hillside. Professional Ghost tours at Port Arthur are available by guided tour only. The site is open

  15. Port Arthur Ghost Tours

    The national award-winning Port Arthur Historic Site takes on a whole different feel once the sun goes down. Join your guide by the light of a lantern as you wander through the historic ruins with tales of mystery, murder and unexplained phenomenon. Port Arthur Ghost Tours start after dark Wednesday - Saturday (excluding Christmas Day) and run ...

  16. Free Self-Guided Tour of Haunting Historic Port Arthur, Tasmania

    Adult tickets cost $40 AUS, and children are $18 AUS. Your ticket into Port Arthur includes entry to the museum, a 40-minute walking tour, a harbour cruise, and access to 30 different historic buildings. The site is open seven days a week, from 10:00am - 5:00pm.

  17. What's On

    Ghost Tour. As the sun sets, come out to the dark grounds of the Port Arthur Historic Site for your 90-minute, lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Follow your expert guide through some of Port Arthur's more infamous buildings, ruins and hear vivid stories of unexplained events. Separate site entry ticket not required. Wed-Sun from 6:00pm.

  18. 2024 Port Arthur Ghost Tour provided by Port Arthur Historic Site

    We timed our arrival a little later in the morning, as we had booked into a ghost tour at night, and figured we might be 'hanging around' between day and night - the site closed at 5 pm and the ghost tour was at 6.30. ... We would like to visit the Port Arthur Ghost tour and are wondering if you have a good group price for us? We will stay ...

  19. 24 Best Things to do at Port Arthur & the Tasman Peninsula

    Free Harbour Cruise. More things to do at Port Arthur - Paid Tours. Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour. Escape from Port Arthur Tour. Port Arthur Ghost Tour. Commandants Tour. Wheel of Fate Taste & Tour. Other Things to do on the Tasman Peninsula. Remarkable Cave.

  20. Hobart To Port Arthur Self-Drive Day Trip: 2024 Guide

    If you're taking a Port Arthur day tour from Hobart, the drive is usually about 2 hours to account for hotel pick-up stops. ... Extra tours and experiences, including the Port Arthur night tours, ghost tours and Escape From Port Arthur experience are at an extra cost, as is a day tour incorporating transport from Hobart or elsewhere. ...

  21. Port Arthur Entry

    Your experience starts here. Every site entry ticket to Port Arthur Historic Site is valid for two consecutive days allowing you plenty of time explore and enjoy Port Arthur's many sites, tours and activities including: access to more than 30 historic buildings, ruins, restored houses, heritage gardens and walking trails.

  22. Celebrating the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

    Arthur Pendragon, 70, a modern-day druid (the ancient druids were Celtic priests), wore white robes with an embroidered red dragon, chunky silver rings and a silver dragon crown.

  23. Convict Tour

    Cost. Adult $10. Child $5. Family $30. In addition to site entry. @portarthurtassie. An accessible 45-min introductory guided walking tour providing the essential history of the Port Arthur Historic Site.