Roger Jaensch, Minister for Environment and Parks
The Tasmanian majority Liberal Government is delivering contemporary facilities for tourists and locals to support Tasmania’s booming visitor economy.
Sarah Island is one of our tourism gems within the Macquarie Harbour Historic site and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and construction of upgraded tracks and a new ramp will add to the visitor experience.
Sarah Island is Tasmania’s oldest convict settlement and reputedly one of the severest penal establishments in the history of transportation to Australia. Flogging was frequently used as a punishment and more than 180 escape attempts were made.
Despite its isolation and grim function, Sarah Island was for a time the largest shipbuilding yard in the colonies. Convicts were also put to work in the thriving pining trade.
Towards the end of the 19th century the haunting ruins and natural beauty of Sarah Island became popular with tourists. The island was gazetted as a tourist reserve in 1926 and nearly 50 years later as an historic site.
Visitors can use a map to navigate among the many ruins to locate the ‘new’ penitentiary, the commandant’s slipway, the bakehouse and tannery and these new works will make more tracks on the island wheelchair friendly and provide a better gravel surface for walkers to navigate the ruins.
Work on the $74,465 project, funded through the Tasmanian Government’s Improved State-wide Visitor Infrastructure program, is expected to begin this month after a contract was awarded to Living Trails.
The construction schedule of 4-6 weeks has been developed so as not to inconvenience tours of the island.
The upgraded tracks will complement improvements completed at the park last year, which included the opening of a new visitor shelter and the replacement of interpretation panels, which provide an introduction to the island’s convict history.
In 2022 Sarah Island will mark 200 years since it was established as a penal colony and these infrastructure improvements will benefit locals and visitors alike.