The village of Koonya is the site of a former convict outstation once known as Cascades on the shores of Norfolk Bay in Koonya on the Tasman Peninsula.
Where Is it?: Koonya is 95 km from Hobart, 15 km from Port Arthur.
Koonya (once known as the convict outstation of Cascades) is a fascinating place that offers a rare opportunity to spend some time living in a convict settlement and experiencing the lifestyle of a 19th century penal institution - albeit with all the modern comforts. Koonya is now literally nothing more than a few isolated houses and a superbly restored penitentiary comprising a hospital, officer's quarters, workshops, chapel, stone quarries, cell blocks and overseer's quarters set between the mountains and the sea.
Cascades was established as a convict outstation in 1841 and by 1846 there were nearly 400 convicts working in the area. The outstation was neat and compact. From it, convicts were employed in felling timber, which was believed to be the best on the peninsula. Most of it was used for shipbuilding in Hobart. The many buildings which are still standing were arranged on either side of a main street in an area between two streams. The old road has vanished without trace; the current road runs inland between the hospital and penetentiary. The waterfall after which the settlement was named can be seen where the present road crosses the western of the two streams.
The former convict station is today relatively intact, it has been restored. Renamed Cascades Colonial Accommodation, it provides accommodation in authentic convict built cottages constructed of brick and sandstone, complimented by colonial antiques and furniture skillfully handcrafted from selected timbers off the property. There are two stunning short walks on the property, one that follows the waterfront to the site of a convict jetty and another that goes into the rainforest to the ruins of a convict mill and quarry site.
The buildings in the area include the old hospital on one side of the road (it is a large two storey Georgian building set in an apple grove and capable of accommodating six people) and the workshop, mess hall, and officer's quarters in a group of buildings on the other side of the road. The workshop has been turned into a small museum and the officer's quarters, three connected cottages, have been converted into superb colonial accommodation. They won an Australian Heritage Award in 1986.