All my life I have read of the natural wonders of Australia and the history of prison ships sent from England to Botany Bay. Kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian Devils, and those poor prisoners were in my head more as cartoon characters or words on the page than as living creatures. One of the problems with reading so much and living inside one’s head is that one learns a great deal but experiences little.
So I was determined to one day see at least some small portion of that great continent. When our son offered to meet us there to do some exploring, we immediately researched plane tickets. A hint, should you decide to explore, Air New Zealand has unique seats that make the overnight journey almost a pleasure.
We spent most of our time in Tasmania, an island on the far south end of Australia, near Antarctica. Convicts were sent there long after they’d been blocked from the mainland. What should surprise no one is that many of those transported were Irish and Scots rebels and political prisoners, as well as petty criminals. At the time, Britain still executed rapists and murderers, so most of the prisoners sent were simply guilty of being poor or disagreeing with the establishment. (on right, me taking a rebel stand)
Those convicts ultimately joined the settlers seeking free land to create the basis for a new society. The story isn’t much more pleasant than that of the Americas, with disease and war killing the native occupants. But I now have entire new ideas dancing in my head of rebels sent to new worlds filled with strange animals and natives… really, why don’t we have Australian Westerns the way we have American Westerns?
We explored mostly the east coast, from Hobart to Launceston, admiring wild cliffs and surf, waterfalls, and spacious, unoccupied beaches. The atmosphere in Tasmania is laidback and mostly rural, but the food… absolutely delicious. Could someone send one of those bakeries up my way? They beat McDonald’s hands down.
I’ve posted more photos on my blog if you need your daily input of cute!
(that's not a bakery on the right but an irresistible tearoom in the Lanes of Melbourne)
Just out of curiosity—how many of you would be interested in the travails of the British prisoners sent to Australia in the 1800s? Or do you prefer the English settings or lords and ladies?