I am a descendant of the ‘convicts class,’ and a native of Australia. I am among one of the First Australians. It was my people who named this land even though the people of the tribes who had lived here since the Dreaming make this claim. They were of many nations, but we are becoming one. Like the song, We are one, but We are many. My people have trodden these shores and plains of the Great Southern Land for long enough to be indigenous to this land and yet we are denied these truths.
I am of the Eora People. I am a ‘Woman of the Eora’ in the terms and language of the First Tribal Nations People, the Cadigal and the Tharawal tribes around Sydney. I am a ‘woman of the rivers’… yet I am not considered of First National Heritage. The indigenous population of the colonial era claim to be of ‘First Nation Heritage’ yet they were and remain of many different Nations. Australia is my National Identity. I am not of the tribal populations of Australia, my links are to the tribal populations of the Northern Hemisphere.
In the eighty years of convict transportation to Australia, between 1788-1868, some 162,000 people (including children) were transported. Only 24,000 of these were women and a half of these women were sent to Van Diemen’s Land. It was a male dominated population most certainly. Hobart in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) received approx. 65,000 men and women transportee’s sent out from Britain, Ireland and several other English colonies. Many of their crimes were crimes of poverty and the brutal consequence of the industrial revolution, famine, as well as political crimes.
One of the highlights of our visit to Tasmania was our venture into the convict punishment precinct of Port Arthur, stretched out as it is on the Tasman Peninsula at the very southern end of Aus’. A penal settlement, isolated by the cold antarctic winds and separated from the main Tasmanian island by the savage dog line across the isthmus of the peninsula which kept the convicts in, and the good society of Van Diemen’s Land out. The Dog Line was accompanied by a guards hut where guards and their families lived and this was as close as polite society came.
Two hundred years ago two young sisters (children really) stepped off the “Castle Forbes” which had just docked into the new settlement of Hobart in Tasmania. Ann and Margaret Honeyman were just 11 & 10 years old. They had been newly indentured to the Reid family as maids to the Reids two babes. They had left their mother and two younger brothers aboard the Castle Forbes to travel onto Sydney Town having just received news that their convict father, who they hoped to join up with in Sydney Town, had died. These two girls, new arrivals to the penal settlement of Hobart, a town settled just 18yrs prior, were Scottish emigrants now bound for the colonial outpost along the Clyde River in the highlands near to what was to become the township of Bothwell on the Central Tasmanian High Country.
Now I am not a snow bunny… however I do appreciate a pristine view of the white stuff from the comfort of a snug fire and a hot drink. When each of our Grandies hit double digits we start to plan a holiday with them… one to drag them off individually with Grampie and Grandma into the never never of their choice… it is a ‘our’ time; a time to discover the character of each of our Grandkids as they begin to emerge into adults and to inspire in them a certain independence. It is something we absolutely love to do and it has proven equally rewarding for all concerned.
On this tour we headed to our National Capital with a choice of places that made our Bucket List. My advice is – Plan your visit! I couldn’t emphasise this more, and you will find Canberra a great place to take kids.
Here are a couple of choice highlights from our week and I hope they fire your imagination because despite it being damn freezing… its been a great week.
Exploring the Bushrangers, or the Wild Colonial Boys of the Riverina district is a fascinating history and journey. Primarily operating on the mainland Aus’ between 1850 & 1870 the history of bushrangers however goes back to the very early settlements of mainland Aus’ and Tasmania and on into the early days of Federation in the 1900’s.
I have a few ‘bushrangers’ sprinkled through our family history, none overly famous for their bush-ranging years but all, at times, ranged through the bush. Most were merely trying to survive colonial life and a few found themselves in gaol.
We are off on our adventure into Outback NSW, and the weather if freezing (for a Qld’er) compared to the coast. But teaching the Grandson to light a camp fire was a lot of fun… and he has proven proficient at toasting marshmallow’s which is always a plus as we head into camp at the Pilliga Hot Bore.
Two hundred years ago this year, a branch of my family arrived into Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). It was a penal outpost then, one envisioned by those in authority of the day, to take in the tens of thousands of convicts over the next seventy years.
These were people expelled from the British Isles as the “Upper Crust” attempted to deal with those living in poverty, the destitute. Those often starving lower class and the disenfranchised. People who were mostly a product of the industrial revolution of the day, that was being experienced in their own country that of the British Isles.
This damn virus has impacted our lives for nigh on 18 months plus now, so travel is complex and family are paramount in our lives. But life does go on regardless.
We (The Man and I) have staged a break-away and I am currently sitting up in the rainforest at the Top-of-the-Range above Cairns where it is warmer, the cold got to me so we staged our break-out to touch base family, putting the finishing touches to my latest project. A new publication for the Family Historians.
(Nb: For a preview of this title visit the US site here. Australian purchasing can be done through all other links)