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The Point Puer Boys: Graduates of a Helpless Establishment

  • Legacy Function Rooms 159 Macquarie Street Hobart, TAS, 7000 Australia (map)

Alistair Scott

1849 sketch of Point Puer attributed to Catherine Mitchell. Courtesy Allport Library.

1849 sketch of Point Puer attributed to Catherine Mitchell. Courtesy Allport Library.

In 1843, the British prison inspector Benjamin Horne commented that without the most basic support from Port Arthur, he could scarcely imagine “a more helpless Establishment” than Point Puer. Horne was referring to Point Puer’s location and buildings and recommended that the institution be moved to somewhere more suitable. In his view, a good system of discipline and training could never be achieved without proper buildings.

Situated on the headland across the bay from Port Arthur, the Point Puer Boys Establishment held over 2,000 male juvenile convicts between 1834 and 1849. Historians have been divided on whether it was successful in reforming the boys and preparing them for life in the colony.  

Alistair Scott was General Manager of Natural and Cultural Heritage with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment until 2015, and previously Director of Local Government. Alistair is now working and studying at the University of Tasmania and is researching the life courses of male juvenile convicts held at Point Puer. Alistair’s research is focusing on the treatment of the boys during transportation and at Point Puer, and on the later lives of Point Puer boys who stayed in Van Diemen’s Land after gaining their freedom.