Salamanca and Port Arthur – bargains and convicts
Saturday – After yesterday and our day of flying and eating – we awake refreshed and ready to take on some more action. The day is typical of Winter in Hobart – clear and cold – but unfortunately no snow! After a lovely hot shower we walk out of the hotel at about 9am and as food is never far from our minds we decide to walk on down to the city and see what we can find.
Today we are also planning to visit Salamanca Markets and also Port Arthur as we have booked a Ghost Tour. oooooooo! On our way through the city there are lots of places open for breakfast and / or brunch of the usual fare – bacon, eggs etc but none of them seem to take our fancy so we keep on walking. Do we want a full brekkie or do we just want toast or croissants and tea?
So hard to choose and by the time we come to the end of the road we still haven’t decided – so we take a walk around Parliament Square. Hobart has lots of public parks – and the public parks have lots of fountains. Even though it is about 9.30am is is still very quiet at this time of morning.
Here’s Jan, Rhondda and Ann (left to right) enjoying a rest on the cold cement around one of the fountains. As you can see all the jackets are on and even a scarf! We are prepared.
We keep on walking until we are back down near the dock area – and look what we found. This little nook is called the Harbour Lights Cafe. It just looks too cute all snuggled in between those two buildings and when we walk inside we know it is the place for us to have our late brekkie.
Everything is decked out in an old marine theme with glass buoys and nets etc. Plenty of charm and the service is great. No sooner are we seated then the lass is giving us the menu and preparing our coffees.
Not being so hungry I decide on bacon, sausage, tomato and mushrooms with a side order of sourdough toast and it is delicious. The breakfast of the other three must have been good as well as nothing is left on the plate!
After enjoying ourselves in this nice warm environment it is time to discover the Salamanca Markets which are held on Saturdays.
There is everything for sale from local produce to leather work and clothing and whilst not really being a shopper for shopping’s sake I amble around – Jan does the same in another direction and Ann and Rhondda head off together to see what interesting things they can discover.
There is a lovely hand crafted teddy bear stall that I look at but decide I have enough back home so I don’t buy anything and walk away. Change of mind – I walk back and decide to get a wonderful bear named Ella – she has such a yearning look on her face so – yep she comes with me.
There are also memorials and this one is for Sir John Eardley-Eardley-Wilmot of Berkswell Hall, in the County of Warwick Baronet; Late Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land and for many years Member of Parliament for North Warwickshire and Chairman of the Quarter Sessions of the County of Warwick. Born 21st February 1783 Died 3rd February 1847.
One special memorial is to the First Fleeters and Norfolk Islanders who came to Van Diemen’s Land during 1807 – 1813.
Standing up in the park I can hear some South American Indian type pipe music which somehow seems to fit right in – don’t ask me how. After walking around down here for quite some time I investigate markets and buy some black humbugs.
I also go back to the teddy bear stall and adopt the bear that I saw before. I now have a new friend – Eliza. Enough spending I wait on the outskirts of the markets for the other three. Jan turns up with just a small bag of goodies and then the other two arrive with larger bags of goodies.
We decide to walk around to Battery Point – it is not that far and the area does have some old world houses. Battery Point is named after the battery of guns which were established on the point in 1818 as part of the Hobart coastal defences. The battery no longer exists.
The area is generally known as one of the city’s more prestigious suburbs, with many large and extravagant homes and apartment blocks. It adjoins the waterfront Salamanca area as well as the nearby prestigious suburb of Sandy Bay. There are a large number of historic houses dating from the first European settlement of ‘Hobart Town’.
My imagination does not need that much encouragement to get me going. In Spring and Summer the roses in the front garden would be in bloom and in the dead of Winter the fires inside would be keeping me warm. I am rudely awakened out of my daydreams by the others and we move on to Princes Park – another lovely rest area in Hobart.
The first construction near this strategic site was the 1818 Mulgrave Battery, built on the site of today’s Castray Esplanade, and renamed Prince of Wales Battery in 1855. In 1841 the Prince Albert Battery was constructed higher up the hill – guided walks now visit its well-preserved tunnels. The semaphore station and signal mast still standing on the edge of Princes Park once signalled ships entering the harbour, and relayed messages via a chain of stations to Port Arthur.
After we sit here for a while to recharge our souls it is time to head back to the hotel as we are going to Port Arthur this afternoon. On the way back I go in search of a lambs wool shop so that I can buy a particular pair of ugh-boots. Yes, I know – very unfashionable but some many years ago when I visited Hobart I have always regretted not getting them when I had the chance.
Finally we find the shop which was not where it used to be and I find my boots and anyway they will keep my tootsies warm tonight at Port Arthur. About three quarters of the way back we discover a really quaint Irish pub – the Shamrock Hotel – so of course we pop in for a drink as the day has started to get a bit on the warm side. We also need to give our tired legs a rest.
Nearly an hour later we amble back to our room where we continue our good times by singing a medley of Sound of Music songs. Why? It’s another one of life’s mysteries.
After some more rest – we decide it’s time to head off for Port Arthur. After consulting the lady on the desk for directions we find our way out of the city – go over the Westgate Bridge – and get lost. Somehow we have taken a wrong turn and end up at Bellerive. Ann says that she has taken us on the scenic tour just so we can have a look around and I can take more photos.
We turn around and go back across the bridge – now I have film going over the bridge and coming back over the bridge – all within a 30 minute time span. Consulting our map – we have to go back over the bridge and fortunately this time we find the right turn off – we are on our way. We get into Port Arthur in the late afternoon and it is such a desolate place.
When we check in we discover that we had been booked in for the Walking Tour at 9.30am this morning and the River Cruise at 11am. Words will be said when we get back to Sydney as we did not know anything about it. What a bummer that is!
The lady gives us a ticket to do these tomorrow but we tell her that we already have other plans as we only have a limited amount of time but she gives us the ticket anyway in case we change our minds.
Anyway we have a little walk around the main building and while the other three go for coffee I head on out – cameras in hand.
Because the light is failing fast I take off not wanting to miss a minute. This is the Penitentiary. It had 136 separate cells on the bottom two floors for those whom one Commandant called ‘the lions’ – prisoners of bad character under heavy sentence. They had to be separated from each other and also from the better-behaved. They ate and slept here but worked around the site.
Unfortunately this building along with some of the others were guttered by fires in 1897. The Penitentiary was a symbol of reform at work. It contained all the machinery of self-improvement but it also contained cells of punishment. On the floor above the cells was a dining hall which doubled as a school room and a library. On the top floor was a dormitory for about 480 of the ‘better-behaved’ men.
The sun is starting to set really fast so I better get a move on. It would have been great to be here earlier in the day so that we could walk around at leisure and take in all the history. Maybe that’s something to do another day.
This is the Guard Tower. It contained of course a guard room and a watch tower and also stored guns and ammunition. There were also three cells for soldiers, civilian offenders and female convict servants who were locked up for minor crimes like drunkenness.
The cells were also used for those being transported to Hobart for trial. It is now getting too dark to really look around anymore so I decide to head on back to the main building before I do any damage to my person. It is mainly guess work on the paths as there are no lights but I make it back safely much to the relief of my travelling companions as now it is pitch dark outside.
Meeting up with our guide Shannon – who is donned in black cloak and holding a lamp. She tells us that Port Arthur can seem a very different place after sunset, full of mystery and intrigue. Unlike many other ghost tours around the world, we will have exclusive access to the World Heritage listed site, so the atmosphere won’t be shattered by crowds or traffic.
She asks us if we think that there are such things as ghosts? Yes or No? Either way, the silence and soft glow of the lantern light can sometimes make those long gone seem very close at hand. The hair on the back of my neck is standing on end – so off we go. She is a great guide and really gets us going at every stop.
It is very quiet – all we can hear are our own footsteps crunching on the gravel and the lapping of the bay against the little walls.
Our first stop is the Church which was built in 1837. Much of the decorative stone work and interior joinery was the work of the boys from Point Puer Prison. This was the first boys prison built in the British Empire and held ‘little depraved felons’ for the period 1834-1849. It was designed to save these boys from the evil influence of older men – but I digress. The large windows were of plain glass and the highly ornate pulpit was carved by a convict craftsman. The wooden spire blew down in 1876 and the building was guttered by fire in 1884 however sections have been rebuilt and stabilised. Unfortunately it was too dark and I did not have a tripod so I do not have photos of the church. You will just have to go on-line and research.
Next stop is the Separate Prison (1849). Its isolation and high walls were designed to threaten anyone contemplating disobedience. For any misdemeanour a man was locked in total darkness and silence for between several hours and 30 days. During this time he was given only bread and water. After 3 days he was taken out for an hours exercise each day.
Each new arrival spent between 4 to 12 months in here before being assigned to work outside in the settlement. He was allocated a number and his name was no longer spoken. He was to communicate only with the staff. Outside his cell he was masked to prevent him from making contact with other inmates. The building was almost destroyed by bushfires in 1895 but sections were rebuilt in the mid 1900’s.
This is a very creepy place. I give up taking photos as I would rather listen to the stories of the different buildings. Maybe I might even spot a ghost or two!
After we have finished our tour and arrive safely back at the main building we are given a Certificate to say that ‘we did with bravery and courage complete a Port Arthur Historic Ghost Tour’ and it is signed by our guide Shannon. We thank her for a fabulous tour and there is just time to have a quick look around the shop to buy the obligatory fridge magnets etc and then it’ time to head off for home. It is very dark along these roads but we do not get lost and this time I get film of us going over the bridge at night – the lights are so pretty along the river.
Eliza has been waiting for me and I know that she is glad we have all arrived back safely.
Highlight of the day : Port Arthur Ghost Tour