Though they toiled during the day under the eye of brutal overseers,
they had little supervision at night and contributed to robberies
that plagued early travellers.
The desperate authorities in the early 1820s devised a method
of banishing convicts turned bushrangers, establishing a hell-hole
on a barren island in the middle of the rough, unpredictable Macquarie
Harbour, on the west coast.
Sarah Islands shipyards turned out more than 80 vessels
of varying sizes, one of which was used for a daring escape. The
characters come to life at the Strahan Visitor Centre, where the
Round Earth Theatre Company regularly stages The Ship That Never
One of the best known bushrangers of the period was Martin Cash,
who became a legend for twice thwarting the dreaded Dog Line at
Eaglehawk Neck. A detachment of military guards and a line of
ferocious dogs guarded the narrow isthmus to prevent convict escapes
from Port Arthur.
Hobarts docks were the disembarkation point for many chained
convicts, who arrived to the noise and bustle of a crowded cluster
of warehouses, rowdy taverns and maritime workshops. The impressive
Georgian warehouses have been recycled as restaurants, artists
studios and galleries and other features of the Sullivans
Cove area include Knopwoods Retreat named after the
hard-drinking first parson of Van Diemens Land and
Kellys Steps, built by intrepid whaler and explorer, James
The nearby village of Richmond is carefully preserved and in
use as craft outlets, cafes, shops, accommodation and private
residences, with plentiful tales of bushrangers and convicts at
the historic gaol.
The central highlands village of Bothwell, with a population
of about 300, has more than 50 buildings of heritage value and
the oldest golf course in the southern hemisphere. Two of a group
of seven Irish political exiles transported to Van Diemens
Land once lived in the town.
In the north, Launceston is Australias oldest provincial
centre and contains some of the countrys best examples of
Edwardian and Federation architecture. Established in 1806 and
gazetted as a city in 1888, it offers relaxing walks along graceful
Victorian streetscapes featuring colonial churches.
Built heritage throughout the regions and towns of Tasmania reflects
the convict and colonial heritage, from grand mansions offering
visitor accommodation to quaint cottages, former coaching inns
and pubs still in service. Wander one of the cemeteries dating
back to the early 1800s and let the headstones tell the family
With all of this colourful history, Tasmania is definitely a
place to explore and reflect on Australia's colonial past.
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