I was last in Tasmania two years ago…
Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia. It’s one of Australia’s most significant heritage areas and an open-air museum.
The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of eleven remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”
Port Arthur is officially Tasmania’s top tourist attraction. It’s located approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) south-east of the state capital, Hobart. In 1996 it was the scene of the worst mass murder event in post-colonial Australian history. Even with that incident a mere 18 years ago then, there was a ‘clean air’ feel to it and pleasant to walk around.
By contrast, there is another place in Tasmania where the ‘feel’ is very different – Richmond Gaol!
Richmond Gaol is a convict era building and tourist attraction in Richmond, Tasmania, and is the oldest intact gaol in Australia. Building of the gaol commenced in 1825, and predates the establishment of the penal colony at Port Arthur in 1833. One of the tasks completed by the convicts who were held at Richmond Gaol was the construction of Richmond Bridge.
Most of the gaol buildings have not been changed since convict times. They include an example of a female solitary confinement cell, measuring 2 metres (6.6 ft)s by 1 metre (3.3 ft). The buildings include a chain gang sleeping rooms, a flogging yard, a cook house and holding rooms.
I should have thought more about the comment the man in the gift shop made, when I said I’d be back after the tour.
His comment was, ‘Many don’t stop, they run out!’ I thought he was joking and laughed!
However, a few paces into the first cell brought instant panic, a heaviness in my chest I couldn’t explain and laboured breathing. I literally ran out of the building only stopping when out of breath and the Gaol far in the distance.
To say it was spooky, doesn’t cover it! I’ve felt ‘this’ a number of times in old buildings and I can tell you ‘I don’t like it’!
That incident gave me a new meaning to being ‘sensitive’.😳