Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The shame of Sarah Island

Approaching Hell's Gates on our Gordon River Cruise. So-named by the convicts who regarded Sarah Island as hell on earth. We were on a lighthearted tourist cruise, but others who came before us were not so lucky ....
The lighthouse at Hell's Gates. It was very sobering to imagine how the convicts felt as they passed these portals. Barely 70 metres wide, it opens up into huge Macquarie Harbour, wherein lies Sarah Island, penal settlement between 1822-1833, and designed as the last place of punishment for repeat offenders. It was abandoned in 1833 in favour of Port Arthur, a brand new hell on earth.
Infamous Sarah Island in 2009 -
As it was ...There were no trees. There were hundreds of people. Small buildings of stone, brick and weatherboard were crowded together. Towering Huon pine fences separated the buildings, isolated the convicts, and stifled the winds that roared up the Harbour. A network of well-built roads linked all points of the island. Any remaining space was turned into gardens. This was Sarah Island.

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