UNESCO World Heritage Site: Australian Convict Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Site #175: Australian Convict Sites
Australian Convict Sites: My 175th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Australian Convict Sites:

The property includes a selection of eleven penal sites, among the thousands established by the British Empire on Australian soil in the 18th and 19th centuries. The sites are spread across Australia, from Fremantle in Western Australia to Kingston and Arthur’s Vale on Norfolk Island in the east; and from areas around Sydney in New South Wales in the north to sites located in Tasmania in the south. Around 166,000 men, women, and children were sent to Australia over 80 years between 1787 and 1868, condemned by British justice to transportation to the convict colonies. Each of the sites had a specific purpose, in terms both of punitive imprisonment and of rehabilitation through forced labor to help build the colony. The Australian Convict Sites presents the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labor of convicts.

The Australian Convict Sites is one of the few World Heritage Sites to have multiple locations across an entire country. There are 11 sites in total in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and Norfolk Island. I visited the 3 sites located in the Sydney area: Cockatoo Island (pictured), the Old Government House and the Hyde Park Barracks.

Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbor and was a prison up until the 1860’s. After that, it was used as a dockyard up until the 1980’s. The convict parts of the island are small compared to the industrial areas, which quite honestly, are far more interesting.

The Old Government house was the home of the former colonial governors of New South Wales located in Paramatta. The house was the NSW equivalent of the White House. While I thought the convict ties were sort of dubious, it is historically interesting and I learned a lot about Australian history in visiting.

The Hyde Park Barracks was the primary housing for convict labor in Sydney. It is located in the central business district and is easily reachable on foot if you are visiting the harbor area and Sydney Opera House World Heritage Site.


Australian Convict Sites

The Australian Convict Sites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed under the Cultural category in 2010. This UNESCO site is located in New South Wales, Australia. This property features 11 ruins of the penal sites that were built by the British Empire from the 18th-19th centuries along the coast of Norfolk Island, Tasmania, Fremantle, and in Sydney.

According to UNESCO, these sites showcase the best example of “large-scale convict transportation” and the expansion of colonial European powers in the region. These sites were also constructed using the labor provided by convicts. Each of the individual properties that are listed in this UNESCO World Heritage Site property is recognized in the Australian National Heritage list prior to being named as a world heritage site.

About Australian Convict Sites

The 11 penal sites listed under Australian Convict Sites are considered of global value. This was the first time that a site is linked to penal transportation, as well as puts focus on forced labor on Australia’s convicts. Today, these sites have become one of the top attractions in Australia. These are the 11 penal sites recognized by UNESCO:

Cockatoo Island Convict Site: This site is located in New South Wales and is one of the most popular of all the penal sites in the area. It is situated along the junction of Lane Cove and Parramatta rivers; hence, its popularity might also be linked with its proximity to Sydney Harbour. It is also the largest of these islands. It operated from 1839 to 1869 as a convict penal establishment. In addition, it is also home to one of the biggest shipyards in Australia.

Australian Convict Sites

Great North Road: This is a historic road in New South Wales, Australia and is one of the 11 Australian Convict Sites. This road was built to link Sydney with Hunter Valley. It was one of those sites built as a result of forced manual labor by convicts from 1825 to 1836. The road consists of a rugged terrain and lasts for 260 kilometers.

Hyde Park Barracks : This is a brick building and compound that is located at the southern end of Macquarie Street in Sydney. It was designed by architect Francis Greenway, who is also a convict. It was constructed from 1818 to 1819. The building was constructed to house the convicts. It is also a museum that is open to the public (with a fee).

Old Government House : This was once a country residence for the governors of New South Wales from the early to the mid-19th century. This building is located within Parramatta Park in New South Wales. It is considered of national and international significance because it is also used as an archaeological resource showing how the British Empire expanded and its impact on the Australian society.

Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area: This is an old settlement recognized as one of the Australian Convict Sites. This historic building is located on a 255-hectare land area on the Kingston coastal plains. It is a collection of buildings from the convict era of the British empire.

Brickendon and Woolmers Estates: This site in Tasmania is one of the Australian Convict Sites and is also an Australian National Heritage site. This site consists of farming properties in Tasmania.

Cascades Female Factory: This is another site located in Tasmania that forms part of this UNESCO site. It is a former Australian workhouse dedicated for housing female convicts. This female factory and former penal colony operated from 1828 to 1856. It is also linked to representing the female experience for the convict phenomenon in Australia during the time of the British Empire.

Coal Mines Historic Site : For 15 years, this site served as convict probation station and recognized as the first coal mine in Australia. Today, this site consists of ruins and landscape modifications in Little Norfolk Bay along the Tasman peninsula.

Darlington Probation Station : This is a convict penal settlement area in Tasmania’s Maria Island. It was also used as a convict probation station from 1825 to 1832. This represented the last phase of convict management in this part of Australia.

Port Arthur : This former convict settlement and small town in Tasman Peninsula is part of the Australian Convict Sites. It is now an open-air museum and is one of the major tourist attractions in Port Arthur. In 1996, this site was the scene of an Australian post-colonial mass murder event.

Fremantle Prison: This prison is the final component of the Australian Convict Sites recognized by UNESCO. This 15-acre site includes prison cell blocks, perimeter walls, cottages, tunnels, and gate house. This building was also built out of forced convict labor. It opened in 1855 but was closed in 1991.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Sep 10, 2017 @ 7:31 am

UNESCO World Heritage Site #174: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

UNESCO World Heritage Site #174: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
UNESCO World Heritage Site #174: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

From the World Heritage inscription:

The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The system’s seven sites illustrate the evolutionary history of reef development and are a significant habitat for threatened species.

The reef extends from the border with Mexico to the north, to near the Guatemalan border to the south. The Belize submarine shelf and its barrier reef, represent the world second largest reef system and the largest reef complex in the Atlantic-Caribbean area. Outside the barrier, there are three large atolls: Turneffe Islands, Lighthouse Reef and Glover’s Reef.

The reef system in Belize is second only in size to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, however, the reef in Belize is much more accessible. The Great Barrier Reef cannot be seen from shore and is an hour boat ride away. The Belize reef can be see from shore on any number of cayes in the area and going to a snorkel or dive spot doesn’t take that much time.

To get to the reef, just take a water taxi from Belize City to either Caye Caulker or San Pedro. From there you can see the reefs and easily take a day snorkel or dive trip.


Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is a series of coral reefs that are located on the coast of Belize. It is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site that was inscribed in 1996. Since 2009 to present though, it has been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger. The coral reef system spans 300 kilometers in length and forms part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in terms of size.

This UNESCO site has therefore garnered the attention of tourists. It is a popular destination for those seeking water activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving. An average of 260,000 visitors go to the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System every year. The reef system also plays an important role in supporting the fishing industry in the country.

About the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is one of the best natural wonders in the world. It is made up of a diverse marine ecosystem, which is also the largest reef system located in the Northern Hemisphere. The protected area included within the UNESCO World Heritage System is composed of various units, which are as follows: 7 key marine reserve zones, 450 cayes or islands, and 3 atolls. Specifically, the most notable marine reserves included within the UNESCO protected area include the Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and South Water Caye Marine Reserve. Meanwhile, the following cayes are also included in the WHS: Caye Caulker, St. George’s Caye, Blackbird Caye, Ambergris Caye, and English Caye, etc.

In 1842, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System was dubbed by Charles Darwin as the “most remarkable reef in the West Indies”. On top of the barrier reef system in Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System recognized by UNESCO, there are also 3 distinct Caribbean atolls that are found in the area: Lighthouse Reef, Glover’s Reef, and Turneffe Atoll. The Lighthouse Reef is the most easterly diving site in the country and where the famous Great Blue Hole is located in.

The rich and diverse marine ecosystem found within this reef is not the only reason why it is popular with tourists, particularly as a diving spot. The three distinct atolls mentioned above also present various scuba diving opportunities for tourists, which is sought after by diving enthusiasts.


Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

One of the reasons why UNESCO added the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System into their list of natural World Heritage Sites is due to the fact that it serves as habitat for various marine species. There is a diverse array of plants and animals that thrive within this marine ecosystem. There are 70 hard coral species, 500 species of fish, 36 soft coral species, and numerous invertebrate species that live in the reef system in Belize.

Despite the impressive number, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System are said to contain more species than the ones mentioned above. Marine biologists would go as far as to claim that only 10% of the total species were discovered; about 90% more need to be discovered.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Belize.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Lord Howe Islands Group

UNESCO World Heritage Site #176: Lord Howe Island Group
Lord Howe Island Group: My 176th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Lord Howe Island Group:

Located in the South Pacific, 700 km north-east of Sydney, the property is included administratively in New South Wales. The preserve includes some 75% of the land area of Lord Howe Island and all of the offshore islands and rocks of significant size in the region. These are the Admiralty Group; Mutton Bird and Sail Rock; Blackburn (Rabbit) Island; Gower Island; and Ball’s Pyramid, together with a number of small islands and rocks. The seaward boundary follows the mean high water mark and consequently excludes all littoral and marine areas. The entire island group has remarkable volcanic exposures not known elsewhere.

The main island of Lord Howe measures 10 km from north and south and is little more than 2 km in width. It roughly describes a crescent, enclosing a coral reef lagoon on its south-western side. The island’s topography is dominated by the southerly Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird. Only a narrow isthmus of lowland country in the north-central part of the island is habitable. The northern tip consists of steep hillsides culminating in extensive sea cliffs against the northern coastline.

Lord Howe is one of the truly special places on Earth. Located several hundred miles off the coast of Sydney, it is the southernmost coral reef in the world. The lagoon has excellent coal specimens along with turtles and stingrays.

The island is home to 300 people and only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time. It is a community where everyone knows everyone else and many people will tell you that they are a 6th or 7th generation islander when you meet them.

The island has even taken the step of keeping cell towers off the island, so mobile phones can’t be used. As a result, you will see more phone booths on Lord Howe than you probably will in Sydney.


Lord Howe Islands Group

The Lord Howe Islands Group is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Tasman Sea of Australia. It belongs to an unincorporated area of New South Wales and is governed by the Lord Howe Island Board. The island has a population of only 382; hence, the board regulates tourist visits to the island. In fact, no more than 400 tourists are allowed in the island at any given time (as of 2016). This site was added to the UNESCO list in 1982. The entire island protected by UNESCO measures at 14.55 square kilometers.

About Lord Howe Islands Group

The Lord Howe Islands Group is an irregularly crescent shaped island along the Tasman Sea, which is right in between Australia and New Zealand. The island is approximately 10 kilometers long and up to 2 kilometers in width. Majority of the people who live in the island do so on the northern side of the island; meanwhile, the southern portion consists mostly of forested hills. This is also where the highest portion of the island is located in – Mount Gower.

Lord Howe Islands Group

There are 28 islands, rocks and islets that comprise the Lord Howe Islands Group. The earliest record of the island sighting is in 1788. Eventually, this island became a popular port for the whaling industry. The settlement began to take place on the island in 1834. After the Second World War, the tourism industry started to develop. Officially, this group of islands is part of the state of New South Wales in Australia.

The Lord Howe Islands Group is considered as a natural global significance by UNESCO. The forests in the island are considered untouched. Meanwhile, it is also known for its diversity in terms of the wildlife species that inhabit the island. The plants and animals that live on the island can be found nowhere else in the world. Hence, UNESCO designated it as a world heritage site to aid in its preservation. Aside from the diversity of plants and animals in the island, the diversity of landscape is also notable. Some parts of the islands feature oceanic basalt surface while some parts are noted as a site for nesting seabirds. The coral reef system in the Lord Howe Islands is also recognized as the southernmost barrier reef system in the world. Meanwhile, the surrounding waters of the island are included in the protected area. In fact, they are part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park.

How to Get Here

Lord Howe Islands Group

The Lord Howe Islands Group is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia. If you want to visit this UNESCO site, there are plenty of ways to get here.

You can take domestic flights from Sydney or Brisbane via Qantaslink. There are flights to Lord Howe Island throughout the year and especially on weekends. Meanwhile, seasonal services are also available via Port Macquarie from February to June and September to December. If you want a more adventurous ride, you can try sailing to Lord Howe Island (although a permit from the Lord Howe Island Board is required for that).

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Sep 11, 2017 @ 5:41 am

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Traveling Around the World

With all due respect to Robert Fulghum, you can learn a lot more traveling than you can in kindergarten.

Here are some of the things I learned from traveling around the world for five years:

Be patient. You will experience flight delays, screwed up food orders and lost hotel reservations. Take it in stride. I once saw someone in Bali start yelling over what amounted to 10-cents. What was the point?

Live simply. Everything you need you can carry in one bag, maybe two. You have no idea how useless most of the stuff you own is until you are forced to go without it.
Continue reading “All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Traveling Around the World”

Photo Essay – South Africa

In 2010 I had the pleasure of visiting South Africa as a guest of South Africa tourism. I visited the remote Kimberly Region in the North West Province, Cape Town and areas around Johannesburg. I was able to do and see many incredible things including: a live capture on a game farm, get in the water with Great White Sharks, see African Elephants, ride the Blue Train and take my first hot air balloon trip. While it was my first visit to South Africa, it certainly will not be my last. There are so much more of the country I haven’t explored yet.

I hope you enjoy some of the images from my first experience in South Africa.

Continue reading “Photo Essay – South Africa”

Photo Essay – Switzerland

Prior to setting out in 2007, I explored the world on the maps of Risk and Axis and Allies. Via dice rolling and troop movements I was able to explore most of the world, but there was also one place I couldn’t go: Switzerland. It was a big greyed out area on the map where I could never move my plastic units.

When I was invited to Switzerland in the summer of 2011 I jumped at the chance to go. It was a country I have always been fascinated by. During my trip I visited the cities of Bern, Basel and Zurich.

I left Switzerland with a desire to return, which I will be doing later this year. I’ll be in Lucern for the 2012 Adventure Travel Summit and TBEX Europe. I’ll be getting a rail pass which I hope to use before the conferences to visit all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland in 8 days!

Continue reading “Photo Essay – Switzerland”

UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
UNESCO World Heritage Site #173: Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

From the World Heritage inscription:

Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital since the 15th century. It has two distinct areas: the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress; and the neoclassical New Town, whose development from the 18th century onwards had a far-reaching influence on European urban planning. The harmonious juxtaposition of these two contrasting historic areas, each with many important buildings, is what gives the city its unique character.

The remarkable juxtaposition of two clearly articulated urban planning phenomena. The contrast between the organic medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town provides a clarity of urban structure unrivalled in Europe. The juxtaposition of these two distinctive townscapes, each of exceptional historic and architectural interest, which are linked across the landscape divide, the “great area” of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Valley, by the urban viaduct, North Bridge, and by the Mound, creates the outstanding urban landscape.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, falls into a category of World Heritage Site where the entire city gets lumped into one site. You can find similar sites in Rome, Paris, Kyoto and Budapest.

The architecture of the city has a very powerful feeling which is highlighted by the castle overlooking everything.

I only had one day in Edinburgh and it was in the winter, which limited my daylight exploration hours. I very much wish to return in the summer so I can better explore the city and its buildings.


Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh are collectively recognized as one UNESCO property in Scotland. Since the 15th century, Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland. The old and new towns form two distinct areas for the capital. Hence, they are recognized as one unit when UNESCO inscribed the city as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995 under the Cultural category. These two distinct parts of the city form the historical and cultural identity of the city, shaping it to become what it is today.

About Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

As mentioned above, Edinburgh has been the Scottish capital for more than 5 centuries. The city is also known for being the home place of many classical writers, poets, artists and philosophers. However, there is more to Edinburgh than the literary landscape. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh form a distinctive character that goes beyond its natural setting. However, it is undeniable that the landscape filled with hills, valleys, volcanoes and ice sheets make it one of the most visited cities in Europe, not just in Scotland.

The Old and new Towns of Edinburgh offer a strikingly contrasting experience for the visitors. This brings about a unique character to the city. Both of the two districts – the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh – are made up of historic buildings though. Hence, you will have plenty to see or do during your time here.

First and foremost, Edinburgh is located right at the center of Scotland and along the southern shore of Firth of Forth. The entire city of Edinburgh includes these seven notable hills: Arthur’s Seat, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Calton Hill, and the Castle Rock. The outstanding value of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh lies in how it impacted the urban planning in Europe.

Old Town

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

The old town of Edinburgh is the perfect place to go to if you want to feel like you’ve gone back to the medieval era. It is a beautifully preserved part of the city that feels like a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone streets. The most significant feature in the Old Town of Edinburgh is the Royal Mile. This street features tenement buildings from the Reformation era. Some of the most notable buildings and ruins that can be seen in the Old Town include the Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse, National Museum of Scotland, and St. Giles’ Cathedral. When you visit in August, don’t forget to catch the Edinburgh Fringe and Festival.

New Town

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

This forms the second half of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh UNESCO property. This part of the city was inspired by the Scottish Enlightenment era’s lofty ideals. Hence, the New Town features a neat and organized grid layout, which is a huge contrast to the labyrinth that is found in the Old Town. It features broader streets lined with Georgian and neoclassical buildings. Many of these buildings have been preserved from the 18th century. This part of the city is the best place to visit if you want to get a glimpse of how the wealthy and super classes lived during the 1700s.

A few of the notable attractions in the New Town part of Edinburgh include Charlotte Square’s Georgian House, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the upmarket George Street.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.