I was super excited to visit the Port Arthur Historic Site while we were in Tasmania. I find history fascinating, so the Historic site was on my “must see” list during this adventure. Port Arthur is about a 1 hour 30min drive from Hobart. The Port Arthur Historic Site is a former convict settlement, built in the 18th & 19th century. The huge convict site has more than 30 historic buildings and ruins and sits on over 100 acres.
As we discovered, there aren’t many transport options from Hobart to Port Arthur, apart from driving or joining a shuttle tour. Graysline was the only wheelchair accessible shuttle I could find operating a tour from Hobart to Port Arthur Historic Site. Please read my full review on transport to Port Arthur here.
After many phone calls trying to organise transport, we decided to rent a non-accessible car during our Tasmania trip and drive down to Port Arthur. The drive from Hobart to Port Arthur was fairly easy, and the scenic views we saw during the drive were stunning. We decided to book in a helicopter flight while we were down in Port Arthur. We booked in with Osborn Heli Tours and enjoyed Port Arthur’s beautiful views from above before we drove to the Port Arthur Historic Site just down the road.
The atmosphere at the Port Arthur Historic Site is very eerie, but I found it fascinating to learn the stories of the imprisoned convicts and the soldiers who lived and worked there. It makes you appropriate the time we live in and the things we take for granted.
I actually found the Port Arthur Historic site more wheelchair accessible than I thought it would be. One of the main buildings is the old prison, which has a glass ramp around the back to allow wheelchair access inside.
There is also access to the Silent prison and it’s outside area. There are steps up into the cell sections, but I could still see the cells from the bottom of the steps.
They have an old cottage that is accessible via a ramp. The inside of the cottage takes visitors back in time and tells the story of the family who lived there. A few of the buildings and ruins are not accessible due to steps, but this was to be expected with such an old site. Nevertheless, most buildings that could be made accessible are. There are many off road areas throughout the site, and some of the pathways are pretty bumpy, but I managed ok in my electric wheelchair.
They offer free guided tours throughout the day and have a 20 minute cruise around the island of the dead, which is included in the entry ticket. The free Port Arthur cruise tour is fully wheelchair friendly and step free. They offer additional tours, but they are not wheelchair accessible. Visitors can get off and do a tour of the island of the dead at an extra cost, but the island has a flight of steps, which makes it not accessible for wheelchair users
The Port Arthur Historic Site is a massive site, and visitors can easily spend all day there. The site is so big, the entry ticket allows visitors to come back for free the next day. Because there is a lot of walking involved to explore the site, they offer golf buggy shuttles for people with limited mobility, but visitors need to be able to transfer from their wheelchair, they can then attach the manual wheelchair to the back of the buggy. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option for electric wheelchair users.
The Port Arthur Historic Site was by far one of my favourite attractions during our Tasmania adventure. Even though there are some restricted wheelchair access areas, we still had a fantastic day at the Historic site. It is certainly a must see while visiting Tasmania,
In my opinion I give Port Arthur Historic Site a rating of 3.5 for wheelchair accessibility, and 4.5 stars for the overall experience .
* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*