An Uncanny Coincidence at Port Arthur Historic Site
Upon entrance to the Port Arthur Historic Site visitors are dealt a random card, like a playing card, but instead of numbers, the cards depict the illustration of a person from Port Arthur's mid-19th century penal colony past. My card showed a man in a religious robe. Ok, interesting. Since we had to meet our tour guide, we skipped the Gallery till after the tour.
Upon my return to the visitor center I entered the Gallery. Filled with historical artifacts and interactive displays, the Gallery is designed to draw visitors into the greater story line of the site as well and to provide visitors with an in-depth understanding of the complex and layered history and world heritage significance of Port Arthur.
Remember that card I was dealt when I first arrived at Port Arthur? The card holds the story of a character that spent time at Port Arthur and is one of the methods of connecting visitors to the Site. Once in the Gallery, I took out the card I was dealt, matched my card to its corresponding twin in the Gallery, and pulled out the shelf to find out who he was. To my great surprise, the first thing I noticed was the name "Eastman." Why is this a surprise? Because Eastman is my maiden name! A random card given to me turns out to be a namesake - uncanny, right? Not only was he an Eastman, but this character was George Eastman - that's my grandfather's name! Talk about evoking a personal connection to the site!
I learned that George Eastman was a reverend and served as the clergyman from 1855-1870. I have the genealogy of my Eastman family and I know I'm descended from Roger Eastman of England who sailed to the United States in 1848. I'll have to check the genealogy to see if Roger is related to this George Eastman who left England for Australia!
When I shared this story of coincidence with my group, including my Tasmanian-born guide Dayna, her first response was to tell me that I've had a very Tasmanian experience - that of finding someone from the penal colony past that I'm related to (or potentially related to).