Port Arthur is a small town and former penal settlement on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. The town is about one and a half hours drive from the state capital Hobart.
Port Arthur was first established as a timber station in 1830, supporting the infant colony of Van Diemen's Land. It became the site of a major penal (prison) colony for male convicts from 1833, a place of secondary punishment for re-offenders, in the 19th century era of convict transportation to Van Diemen's Land (the former name of Tasmania). It very quickly gained a reputation as a "hell on earth". At its peak in the late 1840s, Port Arthur became a near self-sufficient settlement, driven by the labour of its tormented inmates. Ultimately, after a couple of decades of decline in the 1850s and 1860s, Port Arthur finally ended its days as a penal settlement in 1877. In 1996 Port Arthur Historic Site became the site of Australia's deadliest gun massacre when a single shooter opened fire on visitors, killing 35 people. Memorials to those who died can be found at the site.