Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tasmania Part II: In Which We Meet The Devil and Go to Jail

The next day, we drove down to Port Arthur, the penal colony reserved for repeat offenders. Port Arthur was also the site of a horrible massacre in the 90s, when a crazy guy shot and killed 36 tourists. It was pretty tragic.

Picturesque village?  Or cruel and forbidding penal colony?

"Pans" in front of Pirate's Bay.  Arrr!

The drive to Port Arthur was really pretty. On the way, we stopped off to view Pirate’s Bay and the tessellated pavement beach. Tessellated pavement is an interesting geological formation caused by salt and sand breaking down weaknesses in the rock. There are “pans” and “loaves”. It was really neat and looked like something manmade.

Pans in the foreground, loaves in the background

Next, we stopped by the Tasmanian Devil Research Centre. The Tasmanian Devils have developed a horrible face cancer that is actually communicable between devils (it is one of 3 cancers in the world that are directly communicable, not transmitted via a virus). The research centre has isolated several disease free Tasmanian Devils, in the hopes of finding a cure.

Look at the little sweetie!

Tasmanian Devils look really cute when they’re sleeping, but they are actually quite vicious toward each other. They are scavengers and don’t pose a threat to other animals, but when fighting, their growls and snarls are horrible. It is easy to see how they got their name – listening to these guys fight over a dead animal in the forest at night would be quite terrifying, if you didn’t know what they were.

Not so sweet anymore!

Fear me!

Quolls...the Dalmations of the squirrel world.

There were a few other animals at the Tasmanian Devil Centre, including quolls 

Pademelon.  Nothing like a melon, in fact.

and pademelons.

Prisoners in the penitentiary lived in 1.5 x 3.5m cells

Finally, we reached Port Arthur. Port Arthur was active for quite a number of years, and was still a town site after the penal colony was closed. Unfortunately, it was not protected for many years, so a number of things (bricks, tools, etc) have been removed for “souvenirs”. The bush fires in the late 1800s also did a number on the buildings. Today Port Arthur is being restored. The history is still really fascinating. It’s a bit creepy and would have been really fun for a ghost tour, if we had stayed overnight.

Also, they went to church.

Hardened criminal

To be continued...


craftosaurus said...

Ha! "Also, they went to church." :)

Very cool!

L said...

Thanks! :)