Convicts on the West Coast of Tasmania

Convicts On The West Coast Of Tasmania

Convicts on the West Coast of Tasmania

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The West Coast of Tasmania has a significant convict heritage. The use of the West Coast as an outpost to house convicts in isolated penal settlements occurred in the era 1822-1833, and 1846-1847.

The main locations were Sarah Island (known by many in the late twentieth century as Settlement Island) and Grummet Island in Macquarie Harbour. The entrance to Macquarie Harbour was known as Hells Gates and the play on this name has travelled from its naming in the 1830s to Paul Collin's book published in 2002.

Convict parties used the land around the harbour as a work area as far as Gordon River. The prison's existence was for only 15 years, but its hold on the imagination have spawned a significant literature.

Physical heritage

Most physical traces of the convict era were abandoned or lost. Sarah Island was allegedly vandalised for building materials in the 1890s mining communities. However enough remains that guided tours of the island can still give a feeling of the prison. piners also have periodically discovered convict era items during their work along the rivers.

The Frederick

The Frederick was a merchant ship stolen in 1834 by escaping convicts from Sarah Island. It has inspired several books and a play.

The Ship that Never Was, by the Round Earth Theatre Company, at the Strahan Visitor Centre, in Strahan, is a long running play about a successful escape. It was written by Richard Davey, a descendant of Governor Davey who worked on Sarah Island as a guide and...
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