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A convict colony past

The remains of the Port Arthur penitentiary. In the background is Queen Mary 2, on which I arrived.

Living in Sydney, with its glass office towers, opera house and beaches, it’s easy to forget about Australia’s convict past. European discovery and settlement of Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land) began in 1606 with the arrival of a Dutch ship, the ‘Duyfken’. Contact was sporadic for the next 164 years, until 1770 when Lt James Cook in the ship ‘Endeavour’ charted the east coast and claimed the land for England. January 1788 brought the arrival of the First Fleet, 11 English ships carrying more than 1,480 men, women and children — convicts, army and administrative personnel. This prison colony, formed at what is now the city of Sydney, was the beginning of the modern Australian nation.

Port Arthur is some 1,100 km south of Sydney, in the island state of Tasmania. It was first settled as a timber station, but between 1833 and 1877 it served as a prison colony. The site was carved out of the bush and industries such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, timber and brick making began, all using forced convict labour.

The building that began as a flour mill and granary (built in 1843) was later (1857) converted to act as the penitentiary.

Light falls through a barred window into a cell.

The Separate Prison took punishment from the physical to the psychological. Under the Silent System, prisoners were kept in isolation cells, hooded and forced to silence. Convicts in the Separate Prison received one hour of exercise each day: brisk walking in a walled-in courtyard, where silence was again the rule.

Not surprisingly, the regime inside the Separate Prison led to a number of instances of mental illness. This building, beside the Separate Prison, began as an asylum (and now houses a café).

The asylum.

Not only adults were incarcerated at Port Arthur. Boys as young as nine were sent here, and used in hard labour such as stone cutting and construction. One of the buildings they contributed to is this church, constructed in 1836-37. The church could hold 1,000 people and attendance was compulsory for convicts. A fire destroyed the building in 1884, leaving only the walls.

The church

Government Cottage, built in 1854, was used to house visiting officials. It burned down in 1895. You can see a photo of the cottage and church before they burned here.

The remains of Government Cottage

The remains of Government Cottage

In contrast to the harshness of the convicts’ surrounds, the families of officers and officials could stroll in ornamental gardens, complete with imported trees such as weeping willows.

This avenue of trees leads to the Dockyard, which between 1834 and 1848 was a busy and productive shipyard. All that remains now are outlines of former buildings — boat sheds, steamers, a saw pit, the overseer’s hut and blacksmith’s shop. This ship sculpture sitting in an old slipway is a haunting reminder of the past.

After the closure of the site for prison purposes, the area was renamed Carnarvon. People bought land and built houses. Tourists also began to arrive, providing a new industry for the local residents. In 1927 the name Port Arthur was reinstated, and over the years, management of the site was taken over by the government. The Port Arthur Historic Site is one of 11 historic places that together form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2010.

The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Heritage. My entry in last week’s WPC, on the theme of Reflection, was also taken at the Port Arthur Historic Site.

Sources
http://portarthur.org.au
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur,_Tasmania


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Reflecting on a tragedy

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe: 20 people died here.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe: 20 people died here.

On 28 April 1996, 35 people were killed and 20 were wounded by a single gunman at and near the Port Arthur historical site in the state of Tasmania, Australia. This was the country’s worst mass shooting and led to a reform of Australia’s gun laws.

Many of the victims were in the site’s cafe and tourist shop when the massacre unfolded. That building is now empty, lacking a roof, windows and doors — a silent memorial.

Beside the eery stone building is a pool of reflection, a garden and benches, where one is gently encouraged to remember and to pay respects.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe.

The remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe.

An inscription at the site reads:

“May we who come to this garden cherish life for the sake of those who died.

Cherish compassion for the sake of those who gave aid.

Cherish peace for the sake of those in pain.”

You may read a detailed account of what unfolded on that day here, but be warned that it is disturbing.

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Christmas Day at Bondi Beach

Golden sand, azure seas and blue sky: this is what it's all about.

Golden sand, azure seas and blue sky: this is what it’s all about.

For many Sydneysiders (and tourists), Christmas Day means a visit to the beach. And what better stretch of sand than Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach? I lived here during my first residence in Sydney (1999 to 2004), and now I’ve finally been able to move back. 🙂

On Christmas Day, festive headgear is part of the dress code.

Even the police get into the spirit of the season.

Not a snowflake in sight, but the trappings of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas are unavoidable.

The Red Baron dropped in for a visit, too.

There’s no escaping the crowd, however.

This is NOT my idea of fun!

This is NOT my idea of fun!

Even the waves were full of people.

Crowded waters

Crowded waters

The sweep of the beach seen from the north end.

Remember I said I moved back? My building is the white one at the far left of this photo.

Remember I said I moved back? My building is the white one at the far left of this photo.

So now you know what Christmas Day at Bondi Beach is like!

Bondi mural

Bondi mural

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The view from the window: Cairns

Sun, reflections, mist, mountains -- what more do you need?

Sun, reflections, mist, hills — what more do you need?

This was taken early morning in April in Cairns a couple of years ago. I love the drama of this shot: the mist hanging in the hollows among the hills of the Great Dividing Range, the sun backlighting the clouds, and the reflections in those shiny metal louvres.


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Fountain Series: Fun – The Tank Stream Fountain

A turtle

A turtle

Where Alfred Street meets George Street, behind Circular Quay and its bustling ferries, a fountain meanders from pool to pool. Sculpted animals peep out from pipes and are caught frozen in time while going about their business. This is Sydney’s Tank Stream Fountain — and I defy anyone not to smile at the quirky animals in this fun fountain.

A plaque explaining the fountain's inspiration

A plaque explaining the fountain’s inspiration

Part of the fountain unfolds behind the turtle

Part of the fountain unfolds behind a turtle in a series of wonderfully fluid shapes

Water pours from a spout

Water pours from a spout

Crawling crabs

Crawling crabs

One end of the fountain has a special area at the right height for children for view.

The children's fountain

The children’s fountain

Platypus and snakes

Platypus and snakes


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