Convict Settlements of Australia

By ewebb
  • First Fleet Departure

    On May 13th 1787, the First Fleet set sail from Great Britain to New South Wales with about 1,487 people. It was the first convict settlement which marked the beginning of transportation to Australia.
  • Arrival of First Fleet

    The First Fleet ships arrived in Botany Bay between January 18th and 20th the year following their departure. Forty-eight people had died on the journey, a death rate of just over three per cent. Given the harsh conditions and lack of medical knowledge, this was considered to be a remarkable achievment.
  • Pinchgut Island

    After the first fleet arrived in 1788, Governor Phillip and his Advocate-General used the name Rock Island. In 1788 a convict named Thomas Hill was sentenced to a week on bread and water in irons there, and the island came to be known as Pinchgut.
  • Norfolk Island

    Norfolk Island was settled in 1788, the island served as a British penal colony and was notorious for its harsh discipline and brutal punishment.
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    Continued Arrivals

    Between 1790 and 1793, many more ships arrived in Australia. These comprised mainly of convicts, however it was in 1793 that the first free settlers arrived in NSW.
  • Norfolk Island Reopened

    In 1824, The British government reopened Norfolk Island for secondary punishment of the worst convicts. The prison was abandoned 10 years prior to this but reopened and was now to accommodate between 1500 and 2000 convicts and provide the 'harshest possible discipline short of death'.
  • Moreton Bay

    In 1824 Moreton Bay was selected as the site for a separate penal settlement to house Sydney's worst convicts. Its brutality was notorious and by 1839 an official decision was made to end transportation to Moreton Bay.
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    Cascade Female Factory

    Cascades Female Factory was intended to remove women convicts from the negative influences of Hobart. The factory was located in an area of damp, swamp land, with overcrowding, poor sanitation, and inadequate food and clothes, there was a high rate of disease and mortality among inmates.
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    End of Transportation

    Abolition of transportation meant that Van Diemen's Land was the main penal colony in Australia. Following the end of transportation to New South Wales, all transported convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land. In total, about 75,000 were transported to Van Deimen's Land, this ws about 40% of all convicts sent to Australia.
  • Opening of Port Arthur

    Port Arthur prison was opened, it was the destination for the hardest of British and Irish criminals, who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia.
  • Sent from Van Diemen's Land

    During 1842, thw worst offenders form Van Diemen's Land began to be transported to Norfolk Island. It was beleived that the level of brutality was deserved by the worst convicts and the re-offenders.
  • Port Arthur Punishment

    In 1848, harsh physical punishment within the prison was rejected in favour of punishment of the mind. Flogging gave way to solitary confinement.
  • Port Arthur

    The Penitentiary was constructed in 1843 as a flour mill and granary. In 1857 it was converted into a penitentiary, capable of housing over 480 convicts in dormitory accommodation and separate apartments.
  • Last Shipment

    The last shipment of convicts disembarked in Western Australia in 1868 when the total number of transported convicts was around 162,000, who were transported here on 806 ships. The transportation to Australia ended at a time when the colonies' population stood at around one million. By the mid-1800s there were enough people here to take on the work, and enough people who needed the work. The colonies could therefore sustain themselves and continue to grow. The convicts had served their purpose.
  • Closure of Port Arthur

    The prison was closed in 1877 and over the next two decades, it was gutted by fire.