Port Arthur Historic Site

Port Arthur Historic Site: Hours, Address, Port Arthur Historic Site Reviews: 4.5/5

Port Arthur Historic Site
Historic Sites • Historic Walking Areas • History Museums
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
The Port Arthur Historic Site is the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia and among the most significant convict era sites in the world. It has won many awards and has been called one of Australia's great tourism destinations. The Site combines rich history and scenic beauty to tell the stories of the harsh discipline and determined industry of the settlement. It is a place to discover Australian history and connect with the origins of Australian culture.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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4,785 reviews
Very good

Canberra, Australia122 contributions
Jan 2022
Coming to Hobart, this site came as one of the highly recommended tourist location particularly given its’ UNESCO listing.

I had high hopes for the site but alas, it’s was a bit of disappointment. Let me explain.

Online booking was fairly easy and straightforward and so was getting here. Parking is ample with three levels and entry was also fairly easy with staff checking vaccination and face masks. Exchanging online tickets gives you a wrist band that you wear plus a cruise ticket and then off you are sent off to an introductory tour.

A tour guide takes you around to buildings and monuments of historical significance, explaining their background and fun facts. Once this is done, you are guided to a jetty where you embark on a cruise around the harbour area with the captain faintly describing what you’re seeing on the cruise ship. There are other islands you can get off but you will need to pay extra.

Once done, you are guided off the jetty and that’s pretty much it. You can wander off at any time to explore by yourself. While it’s a two day pass, it’s a bit of a trap - there is not enough to spend two full days. You can probably get through everything in 3-4 hours.

And here lies the problem. While it’s shown to have many hectares of buildings, they are mostly closely located ruins with some bland placards describing what they were. There is no narrative leadership or cohesion to give you a real and down to earth sense of 1800s convict lives but instead mostly the infrastructure built to house them. In this sense, it’s really quite boring and most of it are just photo ops. As some other reviewers have pointed out, the buildings are not integrated in any pattern from a narrative point - it’s quite random and again, bland to go through.

On a staffing level, you do get a sense of complacency (though the tour guides seem to work pretty hard) and not a overly strong feel of customer service. You get this sense that it’s a privilege for you as a tourist to be here and that please don’t bother us for anything more. I say this because of several incidents that I witnessed, some of which were pointed out previously by others. Specifically, I do want to point out one incident on the cruise which makes me concerned about incident training and management for staff, particularly towards Asian during these tough times.

On the cruise trip, an Asian family with children were talking enthusiastically and suddenly, an Anglo male aggressively told the Asian Dad to shut up in a very loud voice in front of the children. The Asian Dad was taken back and defended himself and both had a heated exchange. I witnessed the Asian Dad approach a bar staff member to go and talk to the Anglo male. I saw the staff member approach the Anglo male and spent less than 5 seconds talking to him and turning to the Asian Dad saying, “you were too loud so please be quiet”. The Asian Dad was quite taken back by this and said to the staff member “what about his aggressive behaviour to me and my children”. All of a sudden, the staff member started accusing the Asian Dad of now talking too loud and to stop disturbing everyone and there nothing more can be done and to go away.

To be honest, I could not witness what I was seeing and hearing! The aggressor without any effort is now being supported by this staff member who was supposed to be neutral despite being in the wrong. Quite a few other passengers were also taken back by this behaviour.

Later on, I saw this staff member further talking to the Anglo and making more biased comments against the Asian Dad.

I don’t know if this was an indirect racism but I would argue Asians take care in this site, it’s certainly not a supportive place despite what management may think or say. It is quite ironic given many of the signs have an Asian language under English (I think Chinese).

Outside of this, it’s an underwhelming site - Come here to tick off a box and take some photos but don’t expect to be wowed, certainly if you’re Asian!

Management - If you want to explore further, the staff member was female and served behind the bar and her badge said Kelly. This incident occurred on 19 January 2022 on the 1pm cruise.
Written January 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Traveller_Shane Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback. We are following up details of the incident you described with our Management team. We appreciate the opportunity to improve our services, customer service training and presentation of our World Heritage Site. Your review will be included in our customer research and will help to inform future product and experience development. Kindest Regards, The Port Arthur Team
Written January 20, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Georgetown, Australia3,501 contributions
Dec 2021 • Solo
Enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing day wandering through the Port Arthur Historic Site. Remarkably restored and preserved (despite major bushfires), an absolute credit to the staff and people who manage the Site. The guided tour and free included boat cruise are excellent, giving a great insight into the harsh and brutal conditions, but also the fascinating history of early colonial Australia and Tasmania in particular. Every Australian should visit at some stage in their life.
Written January 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rebecca R
Canterbury, Australia40 contributions
Jan 2022 • Couples
Expensive but enjoyable experience overall. Tours depend on the guide… one was good, one was mediocre. Isle of the Dead tour is a worthy experience but I would’ve liked some more time to explore and read the gravestones myself instead of constant talking and moving.

Some interesting covid rules… masks required everywhere on site, including outdoors, but then no policing it. And then you get into the boat for the included cruise and everyone takes off their masks to eat from the on board cafe. So suddenly you’re in a small space with about a hundred people, many of whom are unmasked. A little unsettling in current times but I suppose they need the money from the coffees and pastries.

Overall a positive experience. The online info isn’t wrong - this site is HUGE. You could easily spend all day going from site to site, and perhaps that would get you more value for money…
Written January 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Alice R
Hobart, Australia8,215 contributions
Jan 2022 • Friends
You have to pass through Port Arthur to complete this walk and now they have put barriers up so you can't walk through Port Arthur to complete the walk between the hours of 8am-5pm. Luckily we did this before it all happened. We continued walking to Point Puer - another historic site. Pleasant walk which took about two hours return (not including Point Puer).
Written January 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Redland City, Australia74 contributions
This was an amazing day out. The site and buildings are beautifully kept and looked after. The seperate prison was very thought provoking. We went on a beautiful sunny day, if you are in Tasmania it’s a must see.
Written January 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nikia J
3 contributions
Jan 2022 • Couples
Really enjoyed the free walking tour (the guide was fantastic) and the free cruise.
I was surprised at how interesting the history was of Port Arthur. There are plenty of historical buildings to explore, I think you could easily spend 2 days or at least a full day there.
There is alot of walking so wear comfortable shoes!
Written January 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mark D
10 contributions
Jan 2022 • Family
I am in two minds at this site. Boat trip was good. Grounds are interesting.

However, the lack of connection between the exhibits, buildings and information really diminished the experience.

I would have hoped for more info dotted around the site. More info about the lives of people here AT the sites. The walking tour was a bit meh.

What this places loses as you walk around is the sense of the people. The suffering. The historical significance.

All in all a bit disappointing.
Written January 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sydney, Australia3 contributions
My Wife and children ( 13 + 15 ) visited Port Arthur, and the 2 consecutive day pass was great. There is too much to take in, all in one go. We stayed at White beach 10 min away. The intro walking tour and 20 min harbour cruise give you a very good start to appreciate the site. It has a history beyond just the convict prison. From the reform separation prison to all the seperate structures , in tack and ruined. It was a great walk back through time. The guides are knowledgeable and we would have done more tours if available. It is more then just a day trip to fully appreciate. The memorial to those who were killed in April 1996 was very moving and should be sought out as part of your visit.
Written January 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sen L
6 contributions
Really beautiful setting, an important piece of history. Would recommend going, however some parts in the way it is commercialized are a huge let down. Make sure you book well in advance, we tried to book on the day and were not able to join the tour because it was fully booked. However, the ticket price remains the same even if you do not get to join a tour which I think is very unfair as you do miss out on a lot of important information. They should make sure they have tours available to accommodate more people, or else lower the ticket price for those who cannot go on the tour. $45 each is a lot to just walk around by yourself.
Written January 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Sen L, Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. Your site entry ticket of $45 per adult provides you access to over 30 buildings and ruins over 40 hectares of grounds and gardens for two consecutive days. In addition we include an introductory guided tour and a harbour cruise. Like many attractions across the country we are experiencing a large number of visitors but are limited in the number of people we can cater for on our guided tours and cruise experience due to COVID-19 gathering limits and other restrictions. It is therefore essential that you book tickets online before you arrive to reserve your tour and cruise places as well as access at your preferred time. Remembering of course that your ticket is good for two consecutive days so if you arrive late in the day without a prior booking and a tour allocation is no longer available, then you are also able to book on to a tour the following day. We are sorry that you were disappointed with your service. These are challenging times for travel but we will always aim to provide the best service possible. Thank you again for your comments and we hope to see you again. Kindest Regards, The Port Arthur Team
Written January 7, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

31 contributions
Dec 2021
Interesting history behind the site and Port Arthur. Not a lot of buildings but everything is spread out across a large area.
Entry ticket includes a free walking tour and cruise, the walking tour was great. Cruise was okay but skippable.
Others have recommended spending whole day or more here (ticket is valid for 2 days), but if you are reasonably fit then you should be able to see everything in around 4 hours (including introductory tour and cruise).
Written January 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Port Arthur Historic Site

Port Arthur Historic Site is open:
  • Sun - Sat 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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