Remembering the Past Australia

Deadman's Island

Port Arthur

Published in "Homeward Bound after Thirty Years." A colonist's impressions of New Zealand, Australia, Tangier and Spain ... With Numerous Illustrations. 1892

Deadman's Island, Port Arthur, 1891

Deadman’s Island, Port Arthur, 1891 – where 1,600 prisoners and soldiers lie buried.

Excerpt: One’s flesh creeps to look at the photographs of  the cart to which men were harnessed; the commandant’s house, with its sweet flowers and shrubs, and its evil history and outlook on the prison walls; the model prison; the corridor of cells; the prison buildings; the penitentiary; Deadman’s Island, where 1,600 prisoners and soldiers lie buried; Blow Hole, where the sea rushes in and throws a jet of water right up through the mountain; Tasman Island, the spot where Rufus Dawes takes refuge; Eagle-hawk Neck, the narrow isthmus connecting Tasman Island with the mainland, where sharks were fed to encourage them to stay about, and where in the waters long chain of bulldogs on platforms gave the alarm if convicts swam across; and on the land guards of soldiers cut off their only escape from the hell of Port Arthur to the slow starvation of the main mountain ranges. There, wandering on through forest, no food of bird, beast, fruit, or root anywhere obtainable, the tired fugitive learned to dread the hungry eyes of his fellow, waiting — waiting with knife or axe — stealthy — to see which would fall asleep first and be the victim of nameless horrors; ay, learned to dread them more than the bullet or the dog. Are they not all told in that immortal book?

Convict Cart – Picture, taken in 1891, of a cart that convicts would be harnessed to, on Port Arthur.

Convict Cart Port Arthur 1891

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