One of the most distant colonies of the British Empire, during the 18th and 19th centuries penal colonies were set up around Australia. During the 80 years of this practice, some 162,000 convicts were transported from Britain to Australia.
These penal colonies were located around Australia, but concentrated on the southeastern parts including Tasmania, and today there are more than 3,000 such sites remaining in the country. In 2010 UNESCO inscribed 11 of these sites on the world heritage list.
New South Wales
- 1 Cockatoo Island Convict Site. Cockatoo Island is biggest of all the harbour islands. It used to be a penal colony and is today one of eleven sites making up the UNESCO World Heritage listing "Australian Convict Sites". Sydney Ferries run scheduled ferry services about every hour from 6AM until 9PM. The island is stop for some services on the Parramatta Ferries or for the Woolwich - Cockatoo Island Service. Just check the indicator board at Circular Quay for the next service, or check the Sydney Ferries timetable if you are coming from anywhere else. Ferries run from early until late to services those staying on the island. There is no admission fee to the island.
- Take care on sunny Sundays as the ferries to Cockatoo Island run to capacity, and you may be delayed for a couple of hours getting off the island early-afternoon. if you visit on weekday, the island can seem deserted. During major events (such as the Biennale) special access arrangements can apply.
- There is a new marina on the island, and you can moor a boat for a fee. If you have a kayak, it seems acceptable to paddle up the slipway, if you leave your kayak on dry land. If you decide to kayak, make sure you know where you are going. Don't land on the neighbouring Spectacle Island, which is still a working naval base.
- 2 Great North Road (Central Coast (New South Wales)). The Great North Road was built by convicts through rough terrain.
- 3 Hyde Park Barracks, Macquarie St, Sydney/City Centre (north eastern corner of Hyde Park), ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM, closed Good Friday and Christmas Day. Built in 1818-1819. Constructed by convicts and housed by them, the Hyde Park Barracks provided housing for convicts working in government employment around Sydney from 1819 until its closure in 1848. Interior is restored with exhibits depicting the furnishings and life of the time. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Adult $12, child/concession $8, family $30. Consider the pass if visiting other historical houses and/or trust properties.
- 4 Old Government House, Parramatta Park, Parramatta, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10AM-4PM. The site of the residence of early colonial governors, today a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was especially important during the term of office of Governor Lachlan Macquarie. On the third Friday of each month, ghost tours of Old Government House are available. adult $8.
- 6 Brickendon and 7 Woolmers Estates.
- 8 Cascades Female Factory, 16 Degraves St, Hobart, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9:30AM-4PM. This site operated as a female factory between 1828 and 1856, which was intended to reform female convicts and segregate them from the "temptations" of Hobart. The ladies of this female factory were often completing many chores, such as needlework and laundry. The factory is now one of 11 penal sites that make up the Australian Convict Sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list. A daily Heritage tour runs several times daily and an additional show, title Her Story, runs daily at 11AM. Entry: $5; entry + tour: adults $15, child $10; Her Story show: adult $20, child $12.50.
- 9 Coal Mines Historic site.
- 10 Darlington Probation Station, Maria Island.
- 11 Port Arthur.
- 12 Fremantle Prison, 1 The Terrace St, Fremantle, ☏ . Open every day of the year except Good Friday and Christmas day. Constructed in 1851 by the convicts that were transported to Australia from the UK to house themselves. Following the end of convict transportation in 1868, Fremantle Prison served as Western Australia's main maximum security prison until its closure in 1991. Today it remains as a world heritage listed building and is used for several purposes including as an art gallery, museum and a conference center. Basic tours run throughout the day, and a 'Torchlight tour' runs on Wednesday and Friday nights, which explores the history of prison hauntings. For the really adventurous, there is the tunnels tour which will take you through the tunnel network underneath the prison. Basic $18.50, tunnel tour $59, less for students and children.