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Port Arthur Historic Site

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Coal Mines Historic Site

Coal Mines Historic Site

Coal Mines Road, Saltwater River 7186

Tasmania's first mine, a place of punishment for the 'worst class' of convicts. Self guided, half an hour from Port Arthur.

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General info

The Coal Mines was established as a much-needed local source of coal, but also as a place of punishment for the ‘worst class’ of convicts. An ambitious industrial venture which was a place of severe secondary punishment, the Coal Mines represents the extreme hardships endured by the convicts.

Often described as one of Tasmania’s best-kept secrets, the Coal Mines Historic Site offers a fascinating contrast with a visit to the better known Port Arthur Historic Site, a self-guided opportunity with excellent interpretation with a sense of serenity, gothic mystery and discovery.

Historic ruins are scattered about a bushland environment rich in birdlife and natural beauty. Walking tracks lead past hidden ruins and buildings, as well as the main mine shaft. Entry is free. A fact sheet is available from the Port Arthur Visitor Centre.

Information & activities

The Coal Mines Historic Site is part of the epic story of the European settlement of Australia.

The Pydairrerme people were the traditional owners of this land. Middens and other cultural sites from many thousands of years of occupation still remain in the area and we ask that visitors assist us in caring for them by not walking on them or picking up any associated material.

The Coal Mines formed part of the system of convict discipline and punishment on the Tasman Peninsula. During its busiest years almost 600 prisoners with their jailers and their families lived and worked at the Mines. While the underground workings are no longer accessible, you may visit the picturesque ruins of houses, barracks, offices and punishment cells.

As you explore this evocative unspoiled landscape, you may catch a faint echo of those long departed men toiling in the dark, and experience something of the isolation and hardship that they endured.

Entry and facilities

The Coal Mines Historic Site is open daily. No bookings are required and entry is free. There are toilet facilities at the Site, but it is not staffed.

Disabled access

While the main settlement and Plunkett Point are accessible, the Inclined Plane and the track up to the Main Shaft are not recommended for those with mobility issues.

Safety on site

The weather in Tasmania is changeable and there are no shelters at the Coal Mines. Be prepared with sun protection, warm clothing, a raincoat or umbrella. For your own safety, we ask you to stay on the paths. The ground is uneven in many places, so sturdy walking shoes are recommended. Watch out for snakes in the summer months, The ruins are unstable and fragile, so please do not climb on them.

Facilities and precautions

  • Toilets are available at the main car park.
  • There are picnic opportunities but no facilities; bring your own drinking water and all supplies.
  • Please wear comfortable, sturdy footwear, carry a jacket or raincoat and use sun protection.
  • A 300 metre section of track is wheelchair accessible. The rest is a Level 2 walk.
  • Deep shafts and building ruins. For safety, remain behind barriers and supervise children.
  • No pets, metal detectors or firearms. Bicycles must keep to formed roads.
  • Please assist with conservation by not disturbing any building remnants.

Guided tours

Convict to Coal Face Tour

Located in a now peaceful bush landscape about 30 minutes' drive from Port Arthur, the Coal Mines is a little known element of the great experiment in crime and punishment on which the Australian nation was founded.

Led by a knowledgeable guide, participants will explore the ruins of houses, barracks, offices and dark, damp underground cells of those who once lived and worked at the Coal Mines, a place where the 'worst of the worst' convicts were sent for punishment.

Your guide will reveal the stories and features of this heritage landscape that might otherwise elude the casual visitor.

The tour also includes entry to and a guided tour and harbour cruise at the Port Arthur Historic Site.

Inclusions

  • Return coach transfers between the Port Arthur and the Coal Mines Historic Sites
  • Tour of the Coal Mines Historic Site with an expert guide
  • A Tasmanian inspired gourmet morning or afternoon tea served at the Coal Mines Historic Site
  • Port Arthur Historic Site Introductory Tour with an expert guide
  • Port Arthur Historic Site Harbour Cruise
  • Complimentary printed visitor guides to both sites

Duration

The tour components in total run for approximately 4 hours.
Group members also have the option to self explore the Port Arthur Historic Site.

The tour can be taken either as a morning or afternoon option with the morning tour leaving at 8.30am or afternoon at 1.30pm.
These times can be negotiated for groups.

Cost: $135 (nett) per person. A minimum of 12 are required to confirm this tour.

Reservations

The Convict to Coal Face Experience is an exclusive group tour.
Booking notice of a minimum of 6 weeks is preferred.
Please contact our Visitor Services team for more information -
1800 659 101 (a free call from within Australia) or +61 3 6251 2310 from overseas.