Convicts at Port Arthur’s notorious prison may have received sentences of a few months to many years, but few were Australian Convict heritage site as long as Peter, John and Michael Roche. The brothers have celebrated their 25 year connection with the Historic Site as operators of a series of ferries that have provided harbour cruises to visitors since 1985.
Over the quarter century, the brothers, trading as Port Arthur Cruises, and more recently as Navigators, have employed three boats on the run, and have signed on to continue the service for another decade until 2022.
The brothers’ first ferry to operate the service at Port Arthur was the Bundeena, which had previously seen service ferrying commuters across the Derwent River following the Tasman Bridge disaster in the mid seventies.
It was replaced by the MV Marana, a state-of-the-art catamaran that has been operating at the Site since 2002. The Marana’s sister vessel, the Excella, has operated at Port Arthur annually during August for a number of years, allowing Marana time for its annual survey and maintenance and allowing a year-round service.
The Marana also operates the Hobart to Port Arthur cruise several days a week over each summer season – a truly spectacular way to arrive at the World Heritage-listed Site.
Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority Chairman Dr Barry Jones joined the Roche brothers and staff and board members of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority on a special late afternoon cruise to celebrate the milestone.
“The Port Arthur harbour cruise is one of the most popular and distinctive experiences available to all visitors to the Port Arthur Historic Site,” said Dr Jones.
“In its first year of operation, the Roche brothers’ Port Arthur ferry carried just 15,000 passengers. The service now carries in excess of 200,000 passengers each year.”
“I congratulate the Roche brothers, and their whole Navigators team, on providing this important and iconic tourism experience for a quarter of a century and wish them well in continuing for many years to come.”
"Bundeena', the Roche Brothers first ferry on the Port Arthur service.
MV Marana. A framed copy of this photo was presented to the Roche Brothers in recognition of the milestone.
Dr Barry Jones presents the photo to Navigators' Chair, Peter MacKay
Peter Roche speaking on behalf of the family
PAHSMA Board, staff and community members on board Marana
A fishing boat passes some of the coastal scenery near Port Arthur