Monday, October 26, 2015

Port Arthur, the Penal Colony

Monday we traveled two hours to the World Heritage Site of Port Arthur, the location of a 19th Century penal colony. I expected to see a prison but it was much more than that. When built in the 1830’s it was an entire community complete with a range of convict staffed businesses. They cut and milled their own lumber. They mined coal. They quarried their needed stone. They ran a shipyard. They grew their own food. In short, convicts staffed the community overseen by military guards and civilian administrators.

Life was harsh for the convicts and it's easy to look back  and wonder at the cruelty of the British system of “justice.” Then it is pointed out that life was cruel in the English slums and prisons at the same time. So was transport to a penal colony in Australia cruel or, in some distorted way, a good thing? I shan’t go there but suffice to say, being a prisoner at Port Arthur was not a great experience.

Tomorrow, on a cheerier note, we head inland.

Doo Town
On the way to Port Arthur we passed through a little place called “Doo Town.” It seems that in 1935 a resident in the little unnamed wide spot in the road put a little sign “Doo 1 99” on his cabin. His neighbor responded by putting up a Doo Me sign. Another named his cabin Xanadoo. Now nearly every home in the community sports a sign and some are very clever. Consider… 
Doo-Little, Da Doo Ron Ron, Didgeri-Doo, Yabbaa Dabba Doo, Wee Doo, and so on. It’s all very clever and a nice relief on the road to a penal colony

No comments:

Post a Comment