Port Arthur massacre

1996 killing spree in Tasmania, Australia

The Port Arthur massacre was a mass killing that took place at Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia. On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April 1996 35 people were killed, and 37 people were badly hurt.[1] Martin Bryant used semi-automatic guns to shoot people who were visiting Port Arthur. Port Arthur is an old penal colony or large prison. More than 75,000 convicts from Britain and Ireland had been kept at the prison from the 1830s to the 1870s. The ruins of the prison are one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Tasmania. Bryant is in jail for the crime.

The massacre was the worst single-day mass murder incident in Australian history.[2] 35 people died on 28 April 1996, the middle day of the massacre. After the massacre, Australia made new laws about gun control. People could not buy guns very easily anymore. New laws were changed which meant that Martin Bryant had to give many millions of dollars to the families of the people who were killed. This law does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Bryant had first killed the owners of a small guesthouse.[3] The next day he went to the Port Arthur Historic Site. 20 of the people killed were shot in the Broad Arrow Cafe in a 90-second burst of gunfire.[4] Bryant went into the cafe at lunchtime and began shooting. There were more than 60 people in the cafe. He then went into the gift shop and continued shooting. Two minutes later he went back to his car to get more guns.[1] He continued to shoot and kill people outside in the gardens.

Bryant then took a hostage and went back to the Seascape Guest House. He killed the hostage and then set fire to the house. He finally gave himself up to the police after 18 hours. He was burned in the fire.[1]

Bryant was found guilty of killing 35 people. He was sentenced to a life sentence for each murder. The court said he was never to be released.[3]

The ruins of the cafe are now a memorial to the people who were killed in the massacre. A square pond has been built as a place for quiet thinking. The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard spoke at the memorial in 2006. This was to remember 10 years since the massacre.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Port Arthur Masacre". Companion to Tasmanian History. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  2. "Martin Bryant". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Martin Bryant's sentence". Port Arthur News Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Doherty, Ben (April 28, 2006). "Ten Years On, the horrors of Port Arthur" (html). The Age. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved December 6, 2008.