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Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about Rose.

The story of settlement in Australia Port Arthur Tasmania

Photo by Rose Howell

“I ponder the aspect of travel that is time, that is once in a lifetime experience.

I wonder about those who say you can never return, wonder if I’ve returned somewhere or simply come to a new place.

Because I was there, and have the picture. I lived it. I was there and I am here, and I’ll like something else and that’s travel, that’s life.”

DBC Pierre, Shooting Pompei


In March this year, my husband and I travelled to Tasmania with friends for a holiday. It was a return for me after living there for 3 months 40 years ago.
In 1974, a month after my first marriage, Tasmania was the start of our travels around the world.

I expected to see a lot of changes, but memories came flooding back as we visited familiar places. I also saw new things that I hadn’t experienced before.

One place that I wanted to go back to was Pt. Arthur because that area was where I worked picking apples back in 1974.

Pt Arthur is an historical site and the following information has come from a visitor guide which best describes it.

“Pt Arthur is a place of National and International significance – it was part of the story of the settlement of Australia.
It was not only a prison settlement, it was a community – home to military personnel and free settlers.
The convicts worked at farming and Industries, producing a large range of resources and materials.

There are more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens.

Photo by Rose Howell

Photo by Rose Howell

Photo by Rose Howell


The Pt Arthur penal station was established in 1830 as a timber getting camp, using convict labour to produce sawn logs for Government projects.

From 1833 it was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from the Australian colonies.

Photo by Rose Howell


The model for turning convicts into honest men included discipline and punishment, religious and moral instruction, classification and separation, training and education.

Many men were broken, but some left Pt Arthur rehabilitated and skilled, some as blacksmiths, shoemakers and ship builders.

Photo by Rose Howell

By 1840, there were over 2000 convicts, soldiers and civil staff living at Pt Arthur. (this included women and children) A thriving little community.

Convict transportation to Van Diemans Land (Tasmania) ceased in 1853 when Pt Arthur became an institution for ageing, physically and mentally ill convicts.
It finally closed in 1877.

By 1920’s some of the buildings became museums, hotels and shops. It became a tourist attraction.

Photo by Rose Howell

“Many years later on Sunday, 28th April 1996 when Pt Arthur was a well-known and busy tourist stop, a tragic massacre was added to its history.
A gunman took the lives of 35 people and physically wounded 19 others within the historic site.”

The main area of carnage was the café and gift shop.    
The memorial is now the ruin of the café and a water feature surrounded by a tranquil garden where people can sit quietly and ponder on the events that took place.

It was a very sad time for Tasmania and the rest of Australia to think this could happen here. The gunman is in prison serving a life sentence. His name is Martin Bryant.

Our visit recently was on a beautiful warm sunny day and even though the past sounds a bit eerie, walking around the grounds, visiting the ruins there was a feeling of ‘wow’, this is what Australia was built on. Convicts were sent to Australia from the UK for just stealing some bread to feed themselves or their family. They left the UK in sailing ships and on the long trip here many died from disease.

They endured so much but for many of them it became a new start and if they behaved themselves in Pt Arthur many were pardoned and free to marry and start businesses.
In fact many of the military took convict women as brides.

Children attended school regardless of whether they were children of convicts or free settlers and they taught the convicts many needed skills such as, construction, engineering etc.

Church ruin Pt Arthur by Rose Howell

There are some interesting books to read and one in particular I read back in 1974. “For the term of his natural life” the best known version of life as a convict in Australia. By Marcus Clarke published as a novel in 1874.
There is another book of which I haven’t read called “The floating brothel” a true story by Sian Rees about the convict women’s voyages to Botany Bay.

To get to Pt Arthur you have to drive over a small causeway which is surrounded by ocean on both sides. The military had dogs which patrolled that area looking for escaped convicts so if they managed to escape and get to the causeway, they inevitably got caught or mauled by the dogs which the military kept half starved.

Photo by Rose Howell

Tasmania is a beautiful state similar in scenery to Europe, UK and New Zealand. Weather is cooler than the mainland and they do get snow. We had mild summer weather low to mid 20’s. Perfect for travel.

We hired a campervan and our friends hired Winnebago’s.  The only problem with their vans was it could be scary on some of the winding narrow roads and parking in towns could be a problem. Whereas with our campervan we had no problem at all.
There are good campgrounds and lots of well set up free camping areas.

Distances are short compared to the mainland of Australia so you can get around the island in a couple of weeks or more at a leisurely pace.
To get there you may need to fly to Melbourne first. They do have an International airport within the domestic airport but I am not sure where they fly to.

Richmond Bridge, photo by Rose Howell

For more information check out the Tasmanian tourist site.

Fern Grove Strahan, photo by Rose Howell


Visitor Guide, Port Arthur Historic Site, Management Authority, Arthur Highway, Port Arthur. Tasmania. 7182. Australia.

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

You can see more of Rose's travels on:


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