Presented by: Rory O’Brien
Review written by: Rory O’Brien
The basis of the talk was the book ‘The Fatal Shore’ by Robert Hughes, the late Art Critic. He was born in Sydney and attended school there in the 1950s but had learned nothing of the convict era on account of the ‘convict stain’ which people tended to ignore.
The talk included the reasons for the convict problem in the UK during the 1700s. The decision to ‘banish’ wrong doers from the Realm and transport them to Botany Bay. The appointment of the first Governor of NSW and the preparation of the first fleet.
The new settlement encountered food shortages until they were able to become self-sufficient. Outlying posts were eventually created at Norfolk Island, Van Diemen’s Land, Port Phillip Bay, Moreton Bay and eventually Western Australia. Norfolk Island became a place of terror and many of the Commandant’s were regarded as evil ogres.
Transportation ended in NSW in 1859 but went on in Western Australia until 1868. Over this 80 year period 165,000 convicts were transported on 806 ships. Their descendants now make up approximately twenty percent of the Australian population.