Of the eleven sites included in the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage List, five are located in Tasmania. Each place is protected and highly valued, allowing visitors a unique look at stories from our history.

Convict Sites - Port Arthur, Tasmania
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World Heritage Listed: Port Arthur Convict Settlement (photo by Dan Fellow)

World Heritage Listed Convict Sites

As it happens, we’ve previously published individual articles about all five World Heritage Listed Convict Sites in Tasmania.


 

Following reader requests for further information, we’ll add contact details and links here (all in one convenient, central place!).

Port Arthur Historic Site

Until 1877, the Port Arthur Convict Settlement was as a penal station for secondary offenders and a major industrial complex on the Tasman Peninsula. Today, the convict site is one of the most important cultural tourist attractions in the world, and certainly an iconic visitor experience in Tasmania.

Convict Sites - Port Arthur
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Port Arthur Convict Settlement, Tasman Peninsula (photo Dan Fellow)

Coal Mines Historic Site

Tasmania’s first operational mine, the Coal Mines on the Tasman Peninsula were established to source much-needed coal for the new colony. The convict site was also a place of severe punishment for up to 500 hardened criminals, serial offenders adjudged the worst class. Visitors can combine visits to both the fascinating Coal Mines Historic Site and the Port Arthur Convict Settlement.

Convict Sites - Coal Mines
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Coal Mines Historic Site, also on the Tasman Peninsula

Cascades Female Factory

The Cascades Female Factory is thought to be Australia’s most significant women’s convict site. A purpose-built institution housing up to 1,000 people, the inmates provided laundry and needlework services for the colony. At the foot of Mount Wellington, only a short drive from central Hobart, visitors are able to undertake a guided tour and explore the buildings and grounds.

Convict Sites - Female Factory
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Cascades Female Factory convict site (photo by Roger Findlay)

Darlington Probation Station

Darlington Probation Station is located on Maria Island, a national park off the east coast of Tasmania. Some of the convict sites included in this World Heritage listing date back to the 1820s. The penal settlement was established at Darlington in 1825 by Lt. Governor Arthur. Offending convicts were assigned to hard labour felling timber and cultivating the ground.

Convict Sites - Darlington, Maria Island
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Historic Darlington penal settlement, Maria Island (photo by Dan Fellow)

Brickendon and Woolmers Estates

Historic Brickendon has been owned by the Archer family since 1824. The estate includes a convict built farm village and heritage gardens. The private farm had male and female convicts assigned as agricultural workers.

Brickendon Estate

Convict Sites - Brickendon
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The main house at Brickendon Estate in Longford (photo by Dan Fellow)

Woolmers Estate

Also a private farm using convict labour for early Tasmanian pastoral development, the World Heritage Listed Woolmers Estate is highly regarded as one of Australia’s most significant heritage properties. The estate incorporates the National Rose Garden.

Convict Sites - Woolmers Estate
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Woolmers Estate, World Heritage Listed Convict Site (photo by Dan Fellow)

Additional Convict Sites in Tasmania

For visitors, the “top five” World Heritage Listed convict sites are not the only portal into Tasmanian history. Other attractions and locations provide additional interest for those seeking an insight into the past.


 

Sarah Island is accessed by boat (either an organised tour or personal vessel) from Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania. The rugged Macquarie Harbour island was remote and secure enough to establish the first penal station in Tasmania (1822 to 1833). Convicts were set the arduous task of felling timber from west coast rainforests, with Huon pine required for boats.

Convict Sites - Sarah Island
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Sarah Island via Strahan, west coast of Tasmania (photo by Jennifer Molloy)

Richmond Gaol (circa 1825) is the oldest gaol still standing in Australia, and one of the best maintained convict sites in Tasmania. Visitors are welcomed inside the walls of the Richmond Gaol and will gain an understanding of the conditions facing the unfortunate inmates.

Convict Sites - Richmond Gaol
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Richmond Gaol Convict Site, open for visitors

The Ross Female Factory was built in 1833 in the Heritage Highway town of Ross. Chain gains employed to construct the Ross Bridge were originally housed there. Following a conversion to add dining rooms, a chapel, hospital, nursery and dormitories, it was then used as one of four Tasmanian probation stations for female convicts from 1847 to 1854.

Convict Sites - Ross Female Factory
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Ross Female Factory, on the Convict heritage trail in central Tasmania

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Map: Convict Sites, Tasmania…