Day 154 – Port Arthur

I thought that by parking next to a 2m high shrub on the side of a cliff last night we’d have some buffeting from the winds. It was almost like going to sleep on a boat the car was rocking that much. And, throw in the occasional hammering of the side of the car with small pellets of hail and you have an idea of our night last night. To be honest, I passed out within minutes of turning off the light.

20131014_RCH_4172I woke early (as is the custom) and went for a walk to explore the area we’d parked (Remarkable Cave). I could see a fantastic cape in the distance, Cape Raoul, which if I had a half-day of clear weather to spare, I’d love to do the trek out to see up close. There are actually a few of these fantastic dolerite column cliffs in this area, but none that are easily accessible (read: you have to hike).

20131014_RCH_4174 20131014_RCH_4179There is also the remarkable Remarkable Cave, which is a short walk down some steps from the car park that we spent the night in. It takes a while to realise where the cave is, as Risa and I were both looking in the wrong spot, but once you’re at the bottom of the walk, it’s blindingly obvious! The explorer in me wanted to jump the fence, climb down to the beach and enter the cave to see it better, but the rapidly softening side of me decided it wasn’t a great idea, especially with all this rain and me wearing slippers (it was 4˚C this morning, but at least we have a working heater in the car now!!).

The first I knew of Port Arthur was due to the headlines of the massacre that took place there in 1996, when a deranged man killed 35 people, and wounded 19 more (and also brought about gun control laws). At first I thought it was related to the ruined buildings that I could see in the background of all the news reports. Those memories of the massacre have now become quite fuzzy in my head, but even still, seeing the sight of the main penitentiary ruin brings back those same associations.

20131014_RCH_4186We arrived at Port Arthur Historic Site a little after 10AM (slow start), paid our $35/each entry fees and was promptly assigned introductory tours and harbour boat ride timeslots all before I had a chance to think. We rushed downstairs to join the tour group just as they were departing. Our guide gave us a pretty good overview of the buildings, the people and the timeline of the area. The grey skies, frigid winds and drizzle really suited the sombre mood of the place (though, it made it difficult for Risa to be comfortable outdoors).

20131014_RCH_4193 20131014_RCH_4196From the end of the brief tour we made our way to the jetty to go on a very short (20 minute) boat ride around the harbour. The guide pointed out and explained the Isle of the Dead (the cemetery) and the boy’s prison (for convicts between 9 and 15). He regaled many stories, including one about a man who tried to escape by dressing inside a freshly skinned kangaroo hide and hopping past guards – apparently his costume was so convincing the guards nearly shot him thinking it was dinner (he dropped the costume/act when he saw the guns pointed at him).

20131014_RCH_4200 20131014_RCH_4201 20131014_RCH_4213 20131014_RCH_4202 20131014_RCH_4203It was quite cold/unpleasant being outside, so we headed back to the car for a quick lunch break to warm up and prepare for the afternoon of exploring. We were now free to walk around the (rather large) grounds as we please. The sun was breaking through and with it the temperatures were much more moderate – it was actually pleasant being outside for the first time today. We walked through some of the gardens, admired the non-denominational church that was sadly gutted by fire due to an accident with the caretaker burning garbage. Apart from the lack of its wooden roof, it was actually in quite reasonable condition.

20131014_RCH_4209Many of the original cottages that housed people of note, like the reverend (or pastor, or whatever his title was) and the surgeon and other government officials, were open to visitors. Many of them had been decorated in a style that they would have been decorated back in 1850. We were told that it was quite lavish to make the wives satisfied with the remote posting of their husbands.

20131014_RCH_4216One of the larger buildings of note is the Separate Prison, which was an experimental solitary confinement and sensory deprivation prison. Violent and uncooperative prisoners were brought here and spent their entire duration (minus church sermons/hymns) in complete silence. They also spent 23hrs of the day inside their small cells. It was an interesting idea (though, not novel) and the displays in the building were really good – lots of history and background on some of the notable residents. It was actually purchased after the end of its life as a prison for use as a luxury hotel… yeah.

20131014_RCH_4223 20131014_RCH_4224 20131014_RCH_4228 20131014_RCH_4230There were dozens of other buildings (and ruins) to explore, some with detailed information and backgrounds, others with little more than a small placard explaining what we were looking at (or weren’t in the case of ruins). The other notable building that had been restored with its former furnishings was the Commandant’s House, which had the most lavish interior and furnishings, but only fitting for the man running the show.

20131014_RCH_4241 20131014_RCH_4237 20131014_RCH_4236 20131014_RCH_4231The main, and iconic, building that people associate with Port Arthur was original the flour mill, necessary as a cost cutting measure since they were consuming over 500kg of flour daily! It was later renovated into prisoner housing, with the bottom floors being cramped cells for the ‘maximum security’ prisoners, and the upper floors being open dormitory styled accommodation for the more well behaved ‘minimum security’ fellows. This building was badly damaged during a bushfire several years after the closure of the prison in the late 1800s. It’s now held together with lots of reinforcing material which I guess is better than it collapsing… By now the sun was well and truly shining and the skies were beautiful deep blues. It felt like a different place to the oppressing feeling we had this morning.

20131014_RCH_4198There was more reading (much more reading) and information in the museum that was downstairs of the welcome centre. We spent a fair amount of time there reading about the history of the prison, the motivation for its creation, the transport of the inhabitants, the rehabilitation process, and life after the prison.

It was now after 5PM and we’d seen all that we could digest for a day. We drove a little north and called it quits for the day quite early, as there aren’t many opportunities to camp for free between here and Hobart, which we are returning to tomorrow. I thought I was going to get lucky with our first Tasmanian sunset, but as the time got closer, the sun disappeared behind clouds and became dark, cold and windy. But, at least it’s not raining!

 

154日目  10月 14日(月) ポートアーサー

今日は、ポートアーサーの監獄を散策。

ここは、タスマニアで1番の観光名所です。

その前に、昨晩キャンプした場所からすぐの場所にあるRemarkable Cave(注目すべき、驚くべき)なんて名前のついた洞窟に散歩へ行ってきました。

荒々しい波により浸食されできた岩にできた洞窟。 10m以上はあるかなり厚みのある岩にトンネルを空けちゃうなんて本当に自然ってすごいです。

ポートアーサー刑務所については、普通の刑務所と違い、イギリスから労働者として囚人を連れてきた場所で、色々と興味深い歴史があるので、ぜひこちら ウィキペディアを呼んで下さい。

かなりの建物は、火災により壊れていますが、網走刑務所や他の刑務所よりは、おそろしい感じはさほどなく、むしろかなり広い敷地に美しい公園もあったり、この場所には、イギリスから医者やここに携わるほぼ全ての人々やその家族も住んでいた為、囚人以外の人々が住む家々も残っており、その家々は豪華な内装で、とてもステキでした。   もちろんこの様な天気も悪く、なにも無い場所(しかも刑務所の敷地内)に家族を連れてくるのは、とても難しいことなので、政府はここで働く人々の家や家具などは、イギリス本土の生活レベルよりもかなり質を上げたものを提供していたようです。

到着してすぐに、40分ほどのツアーに参加。 これは、チケット代に含まれています。  たくさんの情報がつまった良いツアーです。 $6で音声ガイドを借りる事もできます。

この監獄へイギリスから囚人が送られ始めたのは、1833年頃。 この頃は、産業革命による機械の発達で多くの人が職を失い、食料も少なく、戦後は戦地から帰還するも職が無くたむろする多くの人々が盗みを働き、イギリスでの囚人の数が収容可能人数を大幅に越えてしまったことから始まったそうですが、この頃のイギリスでは、貧しい子供は、5歳頃から仕事を始め、9歳では犯罪を犯せば大人と同じ方で罰せられたので、多くの未成年がこの地に送られてきたようです。      

なんという時代、、、おそろしい!

この場所は、1996年に一人の精神異常者による銃での大量殺人があり、約40人ほどの人々がこの1人の狂人により命を奪われた、ポートアーサー殺人事件もあった場所です。 
 見つけることができませんでしたが、ぼーボート乗り場の近くにはこの事件の記念碑があるそうです。

その後は、船に乗って辺りの小さな島々を見て回りました。(上陸するには他のチケットが必要ですが、船からのみは、チケットに含まれています。)

小さな島は、ここで亡くなった囚人の墓。小さな島には、1200体もの遺体が埋葬されているそうです。

他には、この岬の先にある浜のような場所は、少年院があったそう。 ボートからは、監獄というよりのどかな田舎のリゾート地みたい。  実際に、この場所は、監獄が閉鎖されてからは、カナービンという村に名前を変更し、入植者たちが住み始めたそうですが、すぐに、この監獄跡地を目当てに多くの観光客が訪れるようになったため、再度名前をもとに戻し、職員の家々をホテルへと改造したそうです。

ボートからの見学後はお昼だったので、車に戻ってカップヌードルを食べました。  もう寒くて寒くて具合が悪くなりかけてたので、完璧なランチでした。  午後からはファッションなんて気にしてられん、ロスの冬のダウンジャケットに、レインジャケットの下も履いて、ロスが湯たんぽも持って来なよと言うので、湯たんぽもお腹に抱えていざ午後の部開始。

そのかいもあり、プラス午後からは日も射していたので、けっこう快適に散策できました。

それにしてもこの場所は、他の刑務所の様に高い壁はありません。

ここは、島ではないのですが、イーグルホークネックというたった100mほどの地峡経由でしか、他の場所へ逃亡する方法がなく、この100mほどの場所には沢山の犬と警備がいたため、誰も逃亡を成功したものはいないそうです。  

また、この時代は、イギリス人のほとんどは泳ぎを知らず、囚人にはこの辺りの海はサメに囲まれていると教えられていたため、誰も決して水に入る事はなかったそうです。

それでもやはり歴史上脱獄を試みた囚人はいたそうで、その内の一人は、夕暮れ時を狙い、死んだカンガルーの皮をまとい、カンガルーの様にジャンプをして警備兵を騙そうとしたようですが、当初警備兵もさほど良い食事を与えられていなかったようで、お腹をすかせた警備兵はカンガルーを狩ろうと銃を囚人に向け、それに気づいた囚人が、 “打たないでくれーーー” と叫んで降参したというストーリがあるそう、、、、ちょっと笑える。。。

なんだかんだ広い地基地内をじっくり見て回るのには終日必要でした。 ちなみにこのチケットは2日間の有効期限があります。 やさしい。

ポートアーサー、かなり見所が多い場所です。  タスマニアに訪れた際は絶対行った方がいいですよーん。

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