Part of our visit to Port Arthur involved a boat ride past the Isle of the Dead – a very small island where over 1,100 people who had died at Port Arthur were buried. Only the few officers who are buried there have gravestones, and they are buried in the highest part of the little island. The convicts were buried in unmarked graves.
Isle of the Dead:
Our next stop was the Point Puer Boys Prison, which was also located on an island slightly offshore from the main colony. Here, boys as young as 9 years old could be housed for the duration of their prison sentence for crimes such as stealing and burglary. Most were taught a trade, and some went on to be very successful and gainfully employed adults because of the skills they learned at Port Arthur. Most of the boy (and general convicts for that matter) couldn’t swim and the commandant deliberately spread the word that the waters were shark infested, so the boys were not anxious to try to escape the island by sea.
After a lunch break, we rejoined Rachel Chesmer, where she showed us some of the activities that she has designed as interactive learning opportunities for the many school groups who come to tour Port Arthur. Here she is in the education center explaining some of the activities to our students:
Alexis and Kate making “wallpaper” from a pattern found in the Commandant’s House. Alexis “gifted” me with this beautiful piece. I love it, Alexis, but sorry, no extra credit for it. 🙂 Nice try, though!
Besides making wallpaper and bricks, one of the other projects was to make “peg dolls” as the children of the soldiers and commandants might have done in the mid 1800’s. Here are Alyssa, Rachel, Lissy and Marissa with the peg dolls they made and Lauren looking on:
By the time we left Port Arthur, we were very tired and cold but ready for our next adventure.