Port Arthur, in Tasmania, was once the harshest penal settlement in the new colony of Australia. It operated as a convict prison for less than fifty years from 1833 to 1877, but in that time it gained a gruesome reputation.
Of the 1646 graves on the Isle of the Dead only 180 have headstones and the rest, belonging to convicts, are unmarked. It’s little wonder that ghosts have been seen wandering the shadowy ruins of Port Arthur for more than 140 years.
The first recorded paranormal activity was in the 1870s when the resident doctor at the settlement saw lights upstairs in the Parsonage across the way. When he investigated he found no one had been there at the time. Since then there have been many unexplained events and unearthly encounters and Port Arthur is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Australia.
If you visit Port Arthur at night you can join a ghost tour, your way lit only by lanterns. Or if you’re really brave you can take part in a paranormal investigation experience, in the middle of the night, using scientific ghost seeking instruments. I’m not brave at all and the thought of a spectral meeting in such eerie surroundings had no appeal, so I opted to visit Port Arthur during the day.
As I strolled through the derelict buildings I met this man, dressed in convict garb. He did not speak to me, but simply pointed ahead, in the same way the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come gestured to Ebenezer Scrooge. He seemed otherwordly and I wondered if he was a figment of my overactive imagination. The fur stood up on the back of my neck – what ghastly fate awaited me if I followed his directions?
Luckily he wasn’t sending me to my doom but to the Port Café. He must have heard about my sweet tooth. There I found this convict themed gingerbread; crispy not creepy, spicy not spooky.
Do you believe in ghosts?