The Penitentiary


Now an imposing ruin, the Penitentiary was constructed in 1843 as a flour mill and granary. In 1857 it was converted into a penitentiary, capable of housing over 480 convicts in dormitory accommodation and separate apartments.

Flanked by the Watchmen’s Quarters, the Penitentiary also contained a mess room, library, Catholic chapel, workshops and ablutions complex. The building was gutted by fire in 1897 and lay derelict until a concerted conservation program began in the 1960s.

Present Day

Re-opened to the public in December 2014 after almost a year of closure, the Penitentiary has undergone a massive conservation effort in recent times.  Work continues on the interpretation aspects of the building, with information signs to be rolled out throughout 2015.


The Penitentiary is open from 9.00am until dusk daily.  Access is included in your Site Entry Pass.

Conserving the heritage values of the Port Arthur Historic Sites is PAHSMA's primary objective