Day thirteen and Tasman National Park VKFF-0481

Day thirteen (Tuesday 8th November 2022) was upon us and we had planned a trip to the historic Port Arthur site on the Tasman Peninsula. Port Arthur is the best preserved convict site in Australia and among one of the most significant convict era sites in the world. Port Arthur haas about 30 historic buildings. I had not been to Port Arthur since 1983 and Marija had never been there, so we were both excited about the day’s activities.

Above:- Map showing our route from Hobart to Port Arthur. Map c/o google maps.

Upon arrival at Port Arthur you are given a playing card. It features a convict or another Port Arthur identity whom you are invited to learn more about during your visit.

My convict was Charles Tossante Brown who was just 28 years old and a native of Stockheath, Hampshire, England, when in May 1828 he was convicted of embezzlement. He was sentenced to 7 years transportation. His job was to keep the accounts in the Commissariat Store. He was never punished at Port Arthur and was soon released. He was convicted in Hobart two years later for stealing 9 shillings and he was returned to Port Arthur where he died in 1841.

Marija’s card was for Joseph Boss William Woolnough, who was a clergyman and Councillor. He was a member of the Carnarvon Town Board. In 1884 Reverend Woolnough purchased the Separate Prison. He had intended to convert it into a high class hotel and pleasure resort before it was destroyed by fire in 1898.

We booked a tour of Port Arthur and also a separate tour out to the Isle of the Dead. To fill in some time we had a look at the extremely interesting museum in the visitor centre.

We then took a walk though Government Gardens. Ornamental trees were planted at Port Arthur during the 1830s. By 1838 the avenue leading to the church was lined with trees which had been provided by Governor Sir John Franklin. Between 1846 to 1847 Government Gardens were developed by Commandant Champ, primarily for the enjoyment of the ladies who lived at Port Arthur. 

After our introductory tour of the Port Arthur site, we had a bit of spare time before our Isle of the Dead tour. We took the opportunity of visiting the Asylum.

Port Arthur’s asylum was built in 1868 to house ‘lunatics’ referred from Port Arthur Penitentiary, Separate Prison, Hospital or Pauper’s Complex. Patients also came from other stations on the Tasman Peninsula, the New Norfolk Asylum, and in one case, the Queens Orphan School in Hobart. The Asylum was orientated re a new way of thinking, aimed at curing people with mental disorders by providing a calm, pleasant and clean environment, kind treatment, exercise and amusement, religious consolation and work to occupy and soothe the mind.

It was built to house 100 patients. By 1876 only two wards were in use and 18 of the 19 patients were invalids.

The building remained in government ownership until it was handed over to the Carnarvon Town Board in 1899 for use as the Town Hall. The 1895 Tasmanian bushfires destroyed the old building, however it was promptly rebuilt. The clock from the Penitentiary was mounted in the new tower.

We wandered next door to the Separate Prison which was opened in 1849. It consists of 50 cells arranged in three corridors with a central hall, on one side of which is a chapel. Each cell is furnished with a hammock, table, stool, and cupboard.

Prisoners were kept strictly apart from each other and not a word was heard except at chapel.

During the 1850s it was used for the worst class of criminal in an effort to bring their minds ‘to a more healthy condition.’ Later the prison was used for long term prisoners as well as those who had committed serious offences or who had absconded.

Following the closure of Port Arthur the prison was purchased in 1884 for conversion to a hotel. The chapel had been converted into a billiard room and other building had commenced. However the 1895 Tasmanian bushfire gutted the building and the Government resumed ownership in 1916.

We then headed down to the dock for our cruise to Isle of the Dead. Our admission tickets included a 20 minute harbour cruise which passed the Dockyard, Point Puer Boys Prison and then for us, stopped off at the Isle of the Dead.

Between 1833 and 1877 about 1,100 people were buried at the settlement’s cemetery. The Isle of the Dead is the final resting place for convicts and those who worked at Port Arthur.

We then made an emotional visit to the Memorial Garden at Port Arthur. On Sunday 28th April 1996, a gunman in cold blood murdered 35 people and wounded a further 19 in and around the Port Arthur historic site. I remember working in the Criminal Investigation Branch for the South Australia Police as a young Detective that day.

The Memorial Garden includes the remnants of the Broad Arrow Cafe where 20 people were murdered.

Our next stop was the Port Arthur church, one of the most impressive buildings/ruins on the site. The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1836 by Lieutenant Governor George Arthur. The church was constructed by convicts and boys from the juvenile establishment at Point Puer. The first service in the church was held in 1837.

In 1884, sparks from a fire which had been lit to clean up around the Parsonage, caught the old shingles of the church roof on fire. Despite the efforts of the local residents the church was irreparably damaged.

Not far from the church is Government Cottage which was built in 1853 to accomodate government officials who were vistting the Port Arthur penal settlement. Unfortunately it was another victim of the 1895 bushfires.

Also nearby is St David’s church, named after the patron saint, St David. The foundation stone was laid in May 1927.

We then visited the Parsonage (Post Office), the Accountants House, the Junior Medical Officers House, the Roman Catholic Chaplains House, and the Visiting Magistrates House.

Next was the Penitentiary, the most recognisable building on the site. The building was originally constructed as a flour mill and granary in 1845. Due to an insufficient water supply and competing priorities for space and industry, the mill was converted into a penitentiary between 1854 and 1857.

There were 136 separate cells on the lower floors. Men in heavy chains were housed on the ground floor. Those in lighter chains were on the first floor. A total of 348 men were accommodated on the uppermost floor in the dormitory in bunk style beds.

The 1897 bushfire saw the devastation of the building other than the masonry walls and barred windows.

The guard tower at Port Arthur was built in 1835. The Senior Military Officer’s Quarters had been constructed two years earlier in 1833. The quarters were the home of the Military Officer in charge of the soldiers at Port Arthur.

The Commandants House was originally built as a four room timber cottage in 1833. Ove the years the house and gardens evolved to accomodate the needs of the five commandants and their families who lived there.

It had been a brilliant day at Port Arthur and it was time to head back towards Hobart. But before getting back to our motel, there were a few other things we wanted to stop to have a look at and we also intended on a quick activation of the Tasman National Park VKFF-0481.

Above:- Map showing the location of the Tasman National Park. Image c/o Google maps.

On our way to the park we stopped off at my namesake quarry.

We soon reached the Tasman National Park.

Tasman National Park is located about 56 kilometres east of Hobart. It is 107.5-square-kilometre in size and was proclaimed on the 30th April 1999. It is located on the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas and includes all of Tasman Island.

Three species of Euphrasia commonly known as eyebright are found only in Tasman National Park. Also found only in the park is the rare Cape Pillar Sheoak, a small shrub or tree.

Above:- An aerial shot of the Tasman National Park. Image c/o Google maps.

The coast of the Tasman National Park supports a colony of Australian Fur Seals and also Little Penguins. The Tasman National Park forms part of the South-east Tasmania Important Bird Area which has been identified by BirdLife International due to its importance in the conservation of a range of woodland birds. This includes the endangered Swift parrot and the Forty spotted pardalote.

We operated from the campground at the trailhead of Cape Hauy. We operated from the 4WD using the Icom IC-7000, 100 watts, and the Codan 9350 self tuning whip antenna.

Above:- An aerial shot of the park showing our operating spot. Image c/o Google Earth.

Marija made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2DWP
  2. ZL4NVW/p (Mount Aspiring National Park ZLFF-0006)
  3. VK2VH
  4. VK4AAC
  5. VK2EXA
  6. VK2MET
  7. VK1AO
  8. VK3APJ
  9. VK3SMW
  10. VK4NH
  11. VK4DXA

Marija made the following QSOs on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU/p (SOTA VK6/ SW-005 & Stirling Range National Park VKFF-0467)
  2. ZL1TM

I made the following QSOs on 40m SSB:-

  1. VK2DWP
  2. ZL4NVW/p (Mount Aspiring National Park ZLFF-0006)
  3. VK2VH
  4. VK4AAC
  5. VK2EXA
  6. VK2MET
  7. VK1AO
  8. VK3APJ
  9. VK3SMW
  10. VK4NH
  11. VK4DXA
  12. VK2NP
  13. VK2VW
  14. VK2HFI

I made the following QSOs on 20m SSB:-

  1. VK6NU/p (SOTA VK6/ SW-005 & Stirling Range National Park VKFF-0467)
  2. ZL1TM
  3. VK4HAT
  4. IW2NXI
  5. VK4NH
  6. VK4DXA
  7. VK5HS

It was starting to get late in the day and we were hungry, so we decided to pack up having not reached the 44 QSOs required for the global World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program. However we had both qualified the park for VKFF with 10 QSOs each. It was a pleasure to log Matt ZL4NVW in New Zealand and John VK6NU in Western Australia for some Park to Park contacts.

We stopped briefly to have a look at Tasmans Arch which is located in the park.

There are some amazing viewing points of the spectacular coastline including the Cliffs Lookout point.

We then visited Devils Kitchen, the remnants of a collapsed sea cave.

Our final stop in the park was the Blow Hole.

We then stopped to have a look at the former Officers Quarters at Eaglehawk Neck. Eaglehawk Neck, known as ‘The Neck’ is a narrow isthmus which connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula.

The quarters were built in 1832 and are believed to be the oldest military building in Australia. The Officers Quarters was one of several structures which formed a small military settlement at this location which was established to prevent the escape of convicts from the peninsula.

To prevent convict escape from the peninsula, a system was developed in 1831 where a line of dogs were chained to posts across The Neck to warn of any convicts who were attempting to escape. The dog line was used until closure of Port Arthur in the 1870s.

Above:- the Dogline. Image c/o Libraries Tasmania.

We stopped occasionally on the way back to Hobart to enjoy the views of the coastline.

We stopped quickly at Dunalley to have a look at the monument erected to commemorate the tercentenary of the discovery of Tasmania.

By the time we got back to Hobart is quite late. We went to the famous Mures for a sensational seafood basket. MAGNIFICENT!

References.

  1. Port Arthur Historic Site, 2022, <https://portarthur.org.au/>, viewed 31st December 2022.
  2. Port Arthur Historic Site Visitor Guide, 2022.
  3. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, 2022, <https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/eaglehawk-neck-historic-site>, viewed 31st December 2022.
  4. Wikipedia, 2022, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasman_National_Park>, viewed 31st December 2022.
  5. Wik,ipedia, 2022, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eaglehawk_Neck>, viewed 31st December 2022.

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