Established back in 1804 when Tasmania was still called Van Dieman’s Land, George Town is one of Australia’s oldest and most historic settlements. Here on the grounds of the George Town Watch House, a gaol was established for housing convicts and putting them to work—which earned it the moniker of “female factory” for its number of female convicts.
When visiting George Town Watch House today, step inside a cell to experience the lives of early convicts, and look at a model of how the complex was laid out in the 1800s. Much more than simply a jail, the watch house is also indicative of life in 19th century Australia, from the types of chores the prisoners were tasked with, to the harsh realities of living on such an isolated coast. For many years this was the only jail in Tasmania’s entire Tamar Valley, and while small in appearance when viewed from outside, the George Town Watch House is a fascinating stop for history buffs, families, curious travelers, or anyone fans of colonial heritage.
The George Town Watch House is 40 minutes from Launceston and three hours from Hobart. It’s located in the center of town within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and George Town’s historic sights.
Did You Know? All of the staff at the George Town Watch House are local volunteers, and they specialize in helping you trace genealogy to see if any of your early ancestors were at one point Tasmanian convicts.