Port Arthur was named after Van Diemen's Land lieutenant governor George Arthur. The settlement started as a timber station in 1830; it is best known for being a penal colony. From 1833, until 1850s, it was a destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia.

Port Arthur was secured naturally by shark-infested waters on three sides and the 30m wide isthmus of Eaglehawk Neck that connected it to the mainland was crossed by fences and guarded by prison guards and dogs.

Today, Port Arthur is one of Australia's great tourism destinations located within the scenic beauty and wonder of Tasmania.