Convict-era Port Arthur
Misery of the deepest dye
An evocative narrative of the many tragedies that fell upon those who were forced to serve time in Port Arthur, one of the most remote and feared convict locations in Australia.
Detailing the development of the prison and its outlying stations, including its dreaded coal mines and providing an account of the changing views to convict rehabilitation, Convict-era Port Arthur focuses in on a number of individuals, telling the story through their eyes. Charles O’Hara Booth, a significant commandant of Port Arthur; Mark Jeffrey, a convict who became the grave digger on the Island of the Dead; and William Thompson, who arrived just as the new probation system started and who was forced to work in the treacherous coal mines.
Convict-era Port Arthur will for the first time provide a comprehensive history of Port Arthur, its horrors and its changing role over a fifty-year period. In gripping detail, using the experiences and words of the convicts, soldiers and administrators who spent time there, David W. Cameron brings to life these deeply miserable days.
Praise for Convict-era Port Arthur
This is a book for the convict era afficionado, who wants to know everything from the number of lashes dispensed each year, to the productivity of Port Arthur’s coal mine. There are figures on agricultural yields and the workings of the hospital. It’s a book that takes you through the time, using mostly comments and thoughts of its time. Too many authors overlay their own feelings of retrospective disgust to places like Port Arthur. Cameron holds off intelligently, preferring to let the words and descriptions of the era work for themselves.Adam Courtenay, The Australian
Cameron, a distinguished historian, who has also published several books on military history, does not sugar-coat the facts in this weighty tome. Cameron has drawn on a huge variety of records ... This is not light reading, but it probably pulls together the most authoritative record of just how Australia's most notious ... and miserable ... penal settlement functioned. Five stars.Jennifer Somerville, Good Reading Magazine
It’s little wonder that Port Arthur continues to haunt the national psyche like a recurring nightmare. That’s the way it emerges from Cameron’s highly detailed study, a journey into the heart of Australian colonial darkness in which not only assigned prisoners were brutalised but in which the Indigenous population was subjected to now well documented, systematic genocide. A well-documented, often vivid picture of a man-made Hell.Steven Carroll, The Sydney Morning Herald