Transportation, the forced relocation of convicts for punishment through hard labour and isolation, was common practice in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In fact, Australia’s colonisation was a direct result of the need to transport convicts to different shores.
Britain’s population was growing, especially in cities, and prisons were overflowing as the poverty rate and crime rate rose.
Initially, convicts were sent to colonies in America, but after the American War of Independence ended British rule, that was no longer an option.
So, in 1788, the first convicts were sent to Australia.
Over the next few decades, convicts were sent to colonies in New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania – then called Van Diemen’s Land.
They were loaded onto boats in England then spent months in cramped, uncomfortable conditions as they sailed South to prisons and work assignments.
In Tasmania alone, approximately 76,000 convicts were transported between 1804 and 1853.
Some of those convicts became boat builders and sailors or stole boats in escape attempts.
Come and meet them at the Maritime Museum Tasmania, where their stories, images, and objects are on display.