VISIT TO POINT PUER
This is why I was particularly keen to visit Port Arthur now. Yes, it's a tree and a beach. Well, OK not the tree.
I don't know if you happened to notice in any of the photos that showed the bay (like the first one from yesterday) there are what look like two islands out in the water? Actually, it's one island and a peninsula.
The Isle of Dead, at the front, was the cemetery for the Settlement and beyond that Point Puer. Puer, of course, is French for 'boy'. (And a couple hours after the harbour cruise where the guide said that, my mother says to me "Puer isn't French for boy." No, it's Latin for 'boy'. Which goes to show you shouldn't believe everything a tour guide tells you, but also is the French meaning a coincidence or an old injoke?)
Point Puer was an experiment. Along with the men and women who were transported, there were girls as young as fourteen and boys as young as nine, but mostly in their teens. Now girls can be sent out as house servants, and possibly they were preferred (being as not set in their evil ways as older women), but you can't send a boy to do a man's work. And keeping boys in the barracks alongside hardened male criminals brings up all sorts of problems. So the powers to be decided to set up prison just for boys. The first in the British Empire.
I believe this site was chosen because it was convenient to Port Arthur. It's exposed to the elements (imagine it with no trees), there is little fresh water and the soil is very poor. Supplies and water were brought over by boat from the Settlement, but goods went the other way too. As I'm already said, the boys carved stone for the church and guard tower. They made wooden fittings for the church and furniture for other buildings. They made clothes and shoes for the residents of Port Arthur. See, they were being trained in trades needed for the colony, with the hope it might make them into productive members of society.
They constructed all the buildings for their own use too, with varying degrees of skill.
Unlike the other convict settlements, it wasn't a place a secondary punishment but an attempt to separate out and educate the youngsters free from the negative influences of older criminals. Did it work? Some of the boys went on to became respectable members of society, some of them, um, didn't. There were over 700 boys in this place as its peak though. It was never intended to cater for that many.
These are believe to be bread ovens, but on a lot of early tourist materials/photos they're said to be cells. The site was only (re)opened to tourists a few years back. It lacks the wooden walkways and other tourist "aids" of the main settlement. Access is provided as a tour, with an accompanying tour guide (not the one who mixes French & Latin, the guide who took us around here sounded like he knew what he's talking about) who tells us there is no plan to "enhance" the site with interpretive material, which sounds good.
Around the other side of the Point, it's not as sheltered, although not as rough as it had been the day before. We're facing south here. Next stop Antarctica :)
To finish off, coming around Dead Island, this is the view of the Settlement from the sea. Lovely first view of your home for the next few years, I'm sure.
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