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Never Getting Out: Port Arthur

December 2002

I should start with the location. Anyone who has ever been to Tasmania will know of the reputation of Port Arthur. The old penal settlement was the dumping ground for the worst prisoners and, it seems, the worst guards as well. All in all, the place has a history of violence and misery which is transmitted into the modern day as a distinct air of unease around the whole site. Today it is a Tasmanian tourist mecca, notably famous for its ruined buildings, and the ghost tour. I should also mention that from a young age it was clear that I had inherited the family 'gift' that I explain as a kind of heightened locational intuition. I was accustomed to images and feelings bombarding me from certain places, and was equipped to deal with them. Or so I thought.

As a teenager, I went on a school trip to Tasmania, including the ubiquitous trip to Port Arthur. The group spent a few nocturnal hours on the Ghost Tour, which, although wonderfully atmospheric, wasn't all that terrifying. The following day, however, we returned to explore the old buildings, and absorb some of the history of the site. A friend and I were poking around some of the old outbuildings - not included on any real tour of the place, and not terribly interesting - when I began to feel the familiar tingle of what I can only describe as intense atmosphere. I felt watched, but I refused to feel uncomfortable, and followed my friend into one of the old half standing cell blocks. As soon as I entered the first cell, I was overcome with an absolute despair, and was half convinced that I would never get out of the building. Then it became increasingly difficult to breathe - I felt as though someone was holding my throat and not allowing me to move. I must have made some sound, because my friend came around the corner into the cell with me. Suddenly I could breathe a bit easier, but the feeling of being unable to leave the building was still there. My friend refused to believe that anything had happened, but she was worried when she had to show me where the exit was. I was literally lost.

Later, with all sensations gone and me feeling a bit more at ease, I was stopped by a teacher who was concerned about how I got those marks on my neck. Although I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photo, the marks looked bruise like, and were spaced like finger tips... Nothing will persuade me to visit Port Arthur again!

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