自18世紀開始，Port Arthur接收了數十萬英國囚犯，對於Port Arthur的去留問題，澳洲內部也出現矛盾，有人希望拆除Port Arthur，不顧回首「祖先是囚犯」的歷史；有人希望保留Port Arthur，因為旅遊收益豐厚（成人入場門票為AUD$37，入場＋活動高達AUD$70）。
今天Port Arthur已是全球知名的世界遺產，我參觀Port Arthur的時候，剛好有一個有趣的相片展（下圖），二百年前的囚犯因盜竊而被送至Port Arthur，攝影師Mine Konakci找來囚犯後人，讓後人拿着祖先盜竊過的物品拍照，相片展示的盜竊品都是雞毛蒜皮的東西：十碼花布、一個銀杯、十磅芝士、三磅煙肉等，似在揭示二百年前的大英帝國嚴刑苛法，祖先都是善良窮人，生活所逼，只能盜竊。
Port Arthur的整個佈局都注重描述百年前的囚犯生活，漫步在Port Arthur，到處都有說明牌：百年前，這裏是教堂、那裏是牢房……
Port Arthur had received Hundreds of thousands convicts from England since the 18th century.
Some people in Australia want to pull down Port Arthur because they didn’t want to be reminding their ancestors were convicts.
But other people want to keep Port Arthur because it generated high profits from tourism. (A signal site entry ticket for an adult cost AUD$37 and ticket could be as high as AUD$70 for additional activities.)
Port Arthur was a famous world heritage today. I was lucky to see an interesting photo exhibition (below) in Port Arthur.
Some convicts were sent to Port Arthur because of theft 200 years ago. Photographer Mine Konakci had invited the convicts’ descendants to take a photo with the items their ancestors had stolen. The photos suggested that the stolen items were ‘a pittance’, such as 10 yards of printed cotton, a silver pint jug, 10 pounds of cheese, 3 pounds of bacon… The photos seemed to suggest the British law was harsh 200 years ago; our ancestors were poor and kind fellows. They stole because they had to live.
Port Arthur put a great emphasis on reconstruct the convicts’ lives hundred years ago. There were story boards all over Port Arthur indicating that HERE was the church, THERE was the prison…
The role-play in the museum (above) impressed me most. It was a way to let tourists BE the convicts/islanders and experience their lives. Tourists could take a card according to their birthday in the museum entry if they like. Then they walked through the museum to find the correspondence story board of the matched convicts/islanders. The story board included his/her convicts, occupations on the island and daily routine. Tourists could browsed other convicts/islanders’ story boards too.
I found this kind of role-play was highly inter-reaction and fascinated. There was even a pair of iron chains for the tourists to feel the heaviness of the convicts. Port Arthur museum demonstrated a first-class presenting.
As I walked to the end of the exhibition. There was a tiny little board asking: So who do you want them to be?
Were convicts evil brutes, habitual criminals, tragic victims of poverty and oppression or heroes of the class struggle? Were administrators brutal sadists or well-intentioned, if mistaken, philanthropists? Is Port Arthur a site of romantic gothic horror or pastoral beauty and tranquility?
We have seen this place and its former inhabitants in many ways. Only one thing is certain—that we filter the ‘truth’ through what we want to believe.
A prefect ending to leave a good question for the tourists!!