Port Arthur, Tasmania – where ghosts roam free


I have to admit to finding evening “Ghost Walks” a bit dull – whether it is in York, Edinburgh or London, the stories are pretty much the same, and they are typically from a time so long ago that it is difficult to picture the details of the story in my mind, let alone afford them credibility.

One ghost walk however stands out. Port Arthur, at the southern tip of Tasmania, which in turn is the much maligned southern outpost of Australia, housed a prison in the 19th century that was the site of the most barbaric atrocities imaginable. The worst Australian criminals (bear in mind that most had arrived in Australia as a result of their misdemeanours already) were sent to serve their time in this prison. Live dissections, experiments to rival Dr. Mengele and unspeakable executions have become part of the dark history of this beautiful island.

Over a century later, and now a designated historic site and tourist attraction, ghost walks are held nightly. Without spoling the stories for anyone about to visit, one thing stands out from other similar tours elsewhere. Whereas other walks feature accounts of goulish sightings and escapades from bygone centuries, at Port Arthur many of the stories of apparitions and unexplained activity are from the last few months. Many guides recall first hand accounts of sightings and encounters with spirits, and while a mild sceptic I found this tour was a very powerful challenge to unbelievers of other-wordly contact. Sadly our visit was not capped with an encounter. Port Arthur is still however a place to include in a visit to Tasmania, which in itself is a part of Australia that has so much to offer that it is well worth the effort to make a detour.

(Dec 2000) Link: Port Arthur Historic Site

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