Coal Mines Historic Site

The remote convict coal mine on the Tasman Peninsula opened in 1833. Reoffending convicts from Port Arthur and elsewhere suffered additional hardship under ruthless overseers in this isolated work camp. In the early 1840s the site became part of the government’s probation system. The substantial and elaborate ruins which remain at the site today include a complex of punishment cells, separate apartments, barracks, workshops, warder’s lodgings and a chapel. 

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The Coal Mines

The Coal Mines site is located on the north side of the Tasman Peninsula, and was a work site for refractory male convicts. The Coal Mines is representative of the use of penal transportation to expand Britain’s geo-political spheres of influence, whilst punishing criminals and detering crime in Britain. The site is also associated with the abolition of transportation and the rise of domestic penitentiaries in Britain.

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The Site

The site comprises of over 25 substantial ruins as well as the remains of coal mining activities in an undisturbed bushland setting of around 214 hectares. The key remaining features of the mining operation include four areas of surface workings/shafts, associated coal stockpiles, coal dumps/mullock heaps, machinery footings, quarries, trial shafts, brick kilns and adjoining clay pits, lime kilns and tanning pits. Several underground solitary punishment cells remain in one of the coal shafts but are no longer accessible. Two quarries show pick marks where convicts mined and extracted the stone by hand, and a number of dressed stone blocks quarried for buildings lie abandoned. 

Reproduced courtesy of: Tourism Tasmania © Joe Shemesh.

Reproduced courtesy of: Tourism Tasmania © Joe Shemesh.

Prisoner Barracks

The Prisoner Barracks ruin was originally two large stone buildings that housed up to 170 convicts within a fenced compound. Underneath the barracks are the remains of 16 solitary punishment cells made of sandstone blocks which created a dark, sound proof and poorly ventilated environment. The archaeological remains of over 100 Separate Apartment cells built to segregate convicts at night are also evident.


Coal Mines Historic Site

Address: Coal Mines Road, C341, Via Premaydena, Saltwater River, Tasmania 7186

Telephone: 1800 659 101