University Of Tasmania

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Placemaking through postcards of Port Arthur

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 09:31 authored by Jennifer Jones-TraversJennifer Jones-Travers

Port Arthur, a heritage tourism site on the southeast coast of Tasmania, was first established in 1830 as a secondary punishment station for British convicts and closed in 1877. Six months following its closure, the first steamship full of pleasure-seekers visited the former penal settlement. As many Tasmanians worked to shed the stain of the colony’s convict past, tourist interest in Port Arthur increased. The substantial income tourism introduced to a limited local economy resulted in ongoing tensions between subverting the convict past and profiting from it (Young 1996).

This paper presents a critical examination of the construction of place for tourists at Port Arthur through the analysis of a collection of 198 postcards held by the Port Arthur Historic Sites Management Authority (PAHSMA) dating from 1905 to 1968. Mass tourism, tourists’ quest for authenticity, dark tourism and Romanticism are phenomena identified as having developed in response to ‘modernity’ and industrialisation in the western world (Urry 1995; MacCannell 1999). The ways in which these contexts manifest and change through time is explored through historical postcards to demonstrate the temporality and process of placemaking in response to economic, social and cultural factors.


Publication title

Historic Environment








School of Humanities


Council for the Historic Environment

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2018 Australia ICOMOS

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Conserving collections and movable cultural heritage; Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology