Australian Convicts

  • First Fleet arrives at Botony Bay

    First Fleet arrives at Botony Bay
    On 18 January 1788 the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay, which Joseph Banks had declared suitable for a penal colony after he returned from a journey there in 1770.
  • The fleet then relocated to Port Jackson

    The fleet then relocated to Port Jackson
    The fleet then relocated to Port Jackson
  • British flag at Sydney Cove

    British flag at Sydney Cove
    Phillip raises the British flag at Sydney Cove.
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    Colony of New South Wales was officially a penal colony

    The Colony of New South Wales was officially a penal colony comprised mainly of convicts, soldiers and the wives of soldiers.
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    Governor Philip founded a system of labour

    Governor Philip (1788-1792) founded a system of labour in which people, whatever their crime, were employed according to their skills - as brick makers, carpenters, nurses, servants, cattlemen, shepherds and farmers.
  • More Convict Fleets Arrive

    More Convict Fleets Arrive
  • More Convict Fleets Arrive

    More Convict Fleets Arrive
  • The First Free Settlers Arrive

    The First Free Settlers Arrive
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    Tickets of Leave

    Governor King22 (1800-1804) first issued tickets of leave to any convicts who seemed able to support themselves, in order to save on providing them with food from the government store.
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    75,000 Convicts Transported to Tasmania

    In the 50 years from 1803-1853 around 75,000 convicts were transported to Tasmania.
  • Convicts were seen as a source of labour to advance and develop the British colony

    Convicts were seen as a source of labour to advance and develop the British colony
    From 1810, convicts were seen as a source of labour to advance and develop the British colony. Convict labour was used to develop the public facilities of the colonies - roads, causeways, bridges, courthouses and hospitals. Convicts also worked for free settlers and small land holders.
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    Tickets of leave 2

    Gentlemen convicts were issued with tickets on their arrival in the colony although Governor Macquarie (1810-1821) later ordered that a convict had to serve at least three years before being eligible.
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    Convicts' experiences were convict love tokens

    Also telling of convicts' experiences were convict love tokens, mainly produced in the 1820s and 1830s by transported convicts as a farewell to their loved ones.
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    Governor Brisbane Tickest of leave

    Governor Brisbane (1821-1825) finally set down regulations for eligibility. Convicts normally sentenced to seven year terms could qualify for a Ticket of Leave after four years, while those serving 14 years could expect to serve between six to eight years.
  • Redcliffe established

    Redcliffe established
    In 1824, the penal colony at Redcliffe was established by Lieutenant John Oxley.
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    Moreton Bay Penal Station

    The main inhabitants of 'Brisbane Town', as it was known, were the convicts of the Moreton Bay Penal Station until it was closed in 1839. Around 2,280 convicts were sent to the settlement in those fifteen years.
  • Van Diemen's Land

    Van Diemen's Land
    The colony of Van Diemen's Land was established in its own right in 1825
  • Western Australia Established

    Western Australia Established
    Western Australia was established in 1827
  • The Parramatta Factory grew as an enclave for pregnant women and also served as an orphanage

    The Parramatta Factory grew as an enclave for pregnant women and also served as an orphanage
    Twenty per cent of these first convicts were women. The majority of women convicts, and many free women seeking employment, were sent to the 'female factories' as unassigned women. The female factories were originally profit-making textile factories. The Parramatta Factory grew as an enclave for pregnant women and also served as an orphanage from the 1830s.
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    800 convicts working in chain-gangs at the infamous Port Arthur

    By 1835 there were over 800 convicts working in chain-gangs at the infamous Port Arthur penal station, which operated between 1830 and 1877.
  • Only around six per cent of the convict population were 'locked up'

    In the mid-1830s only around six per cent of the convict population were 'locked up', the majority working for free settlers and the authorities around the nation. Even so, convicts were often subject to cruelties such as leg-irons and the lash. Places like Port Arthur or Norfolk Island were well known for this. Convicts sometimes shared deplorable conditions. One convict described the working thus:
  • Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth

    Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth
    Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, became the colony's convict settlement in 1838 and was used for local colonial offenders.
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    Victoria from Britain

    Apart from the early attempts at settlement, the only convicts sent directly to Victoria from Britain were about 1,750 convicts known as the 'Exiles'. They arrived between 1844 and 1849.
  • Western Australia proclaimed as British penal settlement

    Western Australia proclaimed as British penal settlement in 1849
  • Being sent directly to destinations such as Norfolk Island, Van Diemen's Land, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay

    The early convicts were all sent to the colony, but by the mid-1800s they were also being sent directly to destinations such as Norfolk Island, Van Diemen's Land, Port Macquarie and Moreton Bay.
  • Western Australia the first convicts arriving

    Western Australia the first convicts arriving in 1850
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    Just under 10,000 British convicts sent to WA

    Just under 10,000 British convicts were sent directly to the colony in the 18 years to 1868. They were used by local settlers as labour to develop the region.
  • Abolished

    Transportation to the colony of New South Wales was officially abolished on 1 October 1850
  • Victoria separated from New South Wales.

    In 1851 Victoria (Port Phillip District) separated from New South Wales.
  • Abolish transportation to Van Diemen's Land

    1853 the order to abolish transportation to Van Diemen's Land was formally announced.
  • Van Diemens Land officially becames known as Tasmania

    Van Diemens Land officially becames known as Tasmania in 1856.
  • Queensland separated from New South Wales

    In 1859 Queensland separated from New South Wales.
  • Australia's last convict ship

    Australia's last convict ship
    On January 9, 1868, Australia's last convict ship, the Hougoumont unloaded the final 269 convicts.
  • End Of Transportation

    When the last shipment of convicts disembarked in Western Australia in 1868, the total number of transported convicts stood at around 162,000 men and women. They were transported here on 806 ships.