Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site
What you need to know
Old Hobart Gaol, or the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site - nicknamed "The Tench" by its former inhabitants - is a concentrated hub of early Australian colonial history, and a harrowing reminder of how far the fields of crime and punishment have come in the times since. Situated just a few minutes walk from the centre of Hobart, the complex saw over 50,000 convicts pass through during its existence and - while much of the gaol and convict sections have since been destroyed - still provides insight into the lives of those of the era as well as the likes of the brutal nature of solitary confinement. Visiting The Tench today allows visitors to gain a sense of its evolution over its 200 year history, including the transition of its chapel into the role of courtrooms, and via absorbing the biographies of both inmates and staff. Add in various other photos and artefacts and there's a wealth of era-specific information to take in here.
Guided tours are available that offer a more detailed look into the penitentiary's construction, daily life and other interesting facets, which are conducted by dedicated National Trust volunteers who certainly know their stuff. Other options for experiencing The Tench include more eerie ghost tours after the sun goes down, as well as regular theatrical events that are held within. History buffs will find few better places in all of Tasmania with which to sate their curiousity than the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site.
- Built in the early 1830's
- Just a short walk from the Hobart CBD
- Ghost tours also available of an evening