Thursday, February 16, 2012

Visiting Mr and Mrs Bell...... Port Arthur


IN the school holidays we had a lovely couple of days visiting Collette and Hayden in Hobart. We had only seen them once since the wedding (or see the bride's post here) when they came up for NYE and showed us their Fiji honeymoon photos.

Since Simon was on holidays we thought it a perfect opportunity to camp out at their new place. We did offer to stay in a hotel because I know what everyone is thinking - as if the newlyweds want a family of 7 raining on their parade. But it was only 2 nights and the Bells wanted us to stay (we think) ;). I just hope we haven't put them off having kids. ;)

On Thursday we met Hayden after work and walked into town. They live right near the hospital so it takes Hayden only a few minutes to walk to work at the RHH and so of course the city is only a few minutes walk away too.

On Friday while Hayden was at work, we went to Port Arthur. The kids had never been before and Simon and I had not been since the year 2000.


We had a great day. I love world history, any and all of it from ancient history to war history to life in the 1300s (with the great plague), but I particularly love learning about our convict history here in Australia. My Dad said to me on Australia Day, "I have never thanked a thief in my life but when I die I think I will thank my great great grandparents because if they didn't steal something and get sent to Australia as convicts, we would be Poms." (no offence intended to our mother country counterparts).


So here is Port Arthur and our convict heritage. Port Arthur was set up as a penal settlement between 1833 and 1870 and housed only males. It was the hardest place in all of Australia to be sent to as a convict and life was harder beyond anything we could imagine or want to endure.












Ollie was such a good boy carrying my handbag around all day so I could carry the nappy bag. :) One day he will hate this photo.






Some of the ruins of the penal colony.



The house in the foreground was where some of the high ranking soldiers lived or the pastor, I think.



The church - they were big on religion, hoping I think the men would be rehabilitated if they attended many church services.




Employees of Port Arthur take groups of tourists around for free to explain about the different sites.




Pictures of former convicts.


A solitary confinement cell.


Looking into the exercise yard. Those in the 'separate prison' or solitary confinement where allowed out of their cells for 1 hour each day into these exercise yards. They were not allowed to look at anyone or talk to anyone and even the guards signed to each other so the convicts would not hear any talking whatsoever. A horrible form of punishment indeed. This is what you got if you played up at Port Arthur.


Looking into solitary confinement cells.




This is how Port Arthur looks like on alot of postcards. So beautiful.


We scheduled a tour of the isle of the dead which of course was on a little island. We had to catch a boat. We were worried it was this...


But were relieved to discover it was actually this...





This is the Isle of the Dead, where everyone that died at Port Arthur is buried. The youngest member was only 6 hours old. As well as convicts, free settlers also lived at Port Arthur and wives and families of soldiers so it was inevitable that some of those buried were very young.


This is our guide on the island who was very adamant that we not touch the 'grave furniture'. Six year olds do not understand that 'grave furniture' refers to the headstones.









The more upstanding members of the Port Arthur community got to be buried at the better end of the island, while the convicts were buried at the other end. Even in death, they thought people should be ranked.



Back on the Port Arthur site and we couldn't get enough photos.
























Inside the church, pretending to call the convicts to repentance. How dare they steal that one reel of cotton or two sheep and get sent all the way from England to Australia for doing so.


The solitary confinement convicts had to stand in these cubicles, with wood on either side of them so they could not look at anyone else but just straight ahead at the pastor at the pulpit.








This photo was taken just before I dropped Collette's camera lens cap down between the boardwalk. We couldn't retrieve it. It was frustrating to see it right there but not be able to get to it. Not as frustrated though as 3 convicts who rowed from Port Arthur to Sydney only to be caught as they rowed into Sydney Harbour and were sent right back to Port Arthur.




Toward the end of our visit, we stopped by the Port Arthur reflection pool to remember the 35 people killed on April 28, 1996, by a lone gunman, in what has become known as the Port Arthur massacre. I can still remember clearly the next day after it happened. I was in my final year of law school in Hobart and we had four days to prepare a moot and go before the Supreme Court and all my 3 friends and I could do was sit there in the law library just completely stunned. The whole city was, it was surreal and horrible. It still is and noone can visit Port Arthur without being moved to tears about what happened on that fateful day. I thought I took photos but maybe, it didn't feel right to do so, standing in the spot where so much was given and taken that day.

The next day we all went to Salamanca where I found more of these.... I have one for everyone now except for Jonty. They have more meaning now than ever before because of sweet Noah.


At the end of the two days, we certainly had worn these two out, on our lovely trip to visit Mr and Mrs Bell. I hope they will let us come again. :)


19 comments:

The Kings said...

Amazing pics! Looks like a lovely time. Your family looks huge with that photo of the 7 of you together! :)

Anonymous said...

You should be a tourist guide Amone!!!
Love the photos, and I too have quite a few forebears there.
One stole a cock and three hens, and another burnt a house down, which would have been a bit more serious I would think.
Thanks for the tour!!
Love Lorraine.
xxx

Chelsea Parsons said...

sooo many cool pics!... ahhh the camera caps... I have lost many!

Collette said...

hmm i dunno losing a camera cap is pretty annoying! although thanks for the comparison! haha

Wheeler Team said...

Ollie is so cool with his man bag! I love the grave furniture, that's hilarious. I love history too, it looks great there. My last visit was 1991 & I've forgotten what is there, have to go again too. Great pics, glad you could all fit on the boat :)

Rebecca said...

LOVE those pics of Sarra and the castle (well it look slike one)! gret trip - isle of the dead is a little spooky hey - well the whole place was when I was a kid!

Penny B. said...

Looks like you had a good trip. Great pics Simone

Helen said...

I really enjoyed this blog post Simone! Lots of great photos! We took our kids on the eve of the new century and did the after dark tour - walking into pitch black rooms and hearing the ghost stories!!! It was very creepy! :)

Kate Jury said...

I love the pictures of Ollie carrying your hand bag!

byron bay wedding hire said...

Getting dressed for a wedding is stressful enough, now throw in the beach wedding atmosphere! You would think that sandals and shorts would be enough, but most brides do not want their groom dressed like the tourists on the beach.

Nettie's Blog said...

how amazing to think such a beautiful place could have been mostly known for such deprivation originally and then such horror and death so recently....do you think that a place can have a spirit????? you can feel the spirits of those who where encarcerated for such small offences, sent so far from their familes, to a hostile land, ruled over by ruthless and cruel overseers... and most of who... lost their lives..Dead mans Island was not open to the public when we went...dont know if i want to go again.. I must say you chose great company to go with!!!!!!!

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