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Category Archives: Convict Trail

Ross sandstone sign

The Heritage Highway stretches from Hobart to Launceston with the most significant places being Kempton, Oatlands and Ross. Filled with sandstone Georgian architecture, Ross sits on the banks of the Macquarie River, 69 miles north of Hobart and 48 miles south of Launceston as inscribed into the Ross Bridge in Roman numerals. Ross was officially established in 1821 but only began real expansion in the 1830’s through land grants to free settlers decided from Hobart Town. In todays Tasmania, the village of Ross is known for three reasons: The Bridge The Female Factory The Bakery The reasons are as:…

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Jorgen Jorgenson “The Convict King” Jorgen Jorgenson (Jorgensen) was born the son of a Danish watchmaker in 1780 and proceeded to live an adventurous life. He was an adventurer, explorer, king, spy, convict, constable and writer. Among other things. Jorgenson developed a habit of finding himself in places at significant times. I guess adventure can put you in such situations. He joined the Danish navy at age 14, and as a privateer was onboard the Lady Nelson with Matthew Flinders during his exploration of Bass Strait, the establishment of both settlements on the River Derwent and the discovery of the Tamar estuary.…

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Mary McLauchlan “First Woman Executed in Hobart Town” Mary McLauchlan arrived in Hobart Town on 14 January 1829 and was sent to the Female Factory. She was onboard the first ship of women sent to the Female Factory in Hobart. Mary had been found guilty of theft in Glasgow and sentenced to 14 years transportation. The story goes she was trying to protect her husband Will Sutherland, who was the primary suspect. Mary was soon appointed to Mr Charles Nairne in the Coal River Valley as a domestic servant. She became pregnant but Mary would not name the father.…

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Solomon Blay “The Hangman” Solomon Blay was found guilty in England in 1837 for the crime of counterfeiting coins at the age of 20. After serving time in hard labour he applied for the most hated position in the colony, the job of hangman. The Colony’s Executioner Blay served in the role for 50 years, making him the longest serving hangman in the British Empire. He operated as hangman in Oatlands, Launceston and Hobart. Find out more about the History of Oatlands. Between 1840 until 1891 Blay sent 206 prisoners to their deaths in his 50 year career as the…

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callington mill

The Heritage Highway stretches from Hobart to Launceston, but the coolest and most significant places along it are Kempton, Oatlands, Ross and Campbell Town. The township of Oatlands was established in 1821. Oatlands is located on a turnoff from the Midlands Highway, some 85 kilometres north of Hobart. Governor Lachlan Macquarie named Oatlands because the area reminded him of the grain producing areas of Scotland. Grand Plans for Oatlands Similarly to Kempton, Oatlands was a key station for horse and cart, merchants and travellers between Hobart Town and Launceston.  At one point in the mid 1800’s, Oatlands was considered…

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The gaols in Britain were over crowded. Transportation to the new colony was the sentence of choice for the magistrates. For convicts sent to the end of the world their punishment was seen as a death sentence. The life of a convict was certainly tough in early days of penal settlement of Van Diemen’s Land. However, some crafty, mischievous and desperate buggers made their names infamous in the penal colony through their own adventures and tribulations. George “Billy” Hunt – “The Convict in Disguise” George “Billy” Hunt was found guilty of stealing a handkerchief and was sentenced to 14…

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The Heritage Highway stretches from Hobart to Launceston, but the coolest and most significant places in Tasmania’s history are Kempton, Oatlands, Ross and Campbell Town. The Heritage Highway is essentially The Midlands Highway but with some scenic side stops. The Heritage Highway was originally built by convict labour. Taking the Road to Kempton I hopped in my trusty makeshift DMC DeLorean and set the dial to the 1800’s. Time travel is the ultimate adventure. Just ask Marty McFly. Zooming out of Hobart Town I pass by Pontville, Mangalore and a place called Bagdad.  My first point of call is…

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Richmond village is a microcosm of colonial times in Tasmania. It is the Tardis that takes you to 1829. My drive in the Escape Hatch across the Tasman Bridge from Hobart Town on a sunny Saturday last November, takes about 30 minutes, weaving through the grassy countryside passing the numerous Coal River Valley vineyards and farming estates. You know you’ve made Richmond village when you reach the engraved stone sign emblazoned RICHMOND. Drive through Bridge Street and go directly to Richmond Bridge. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Bridge Street is the main street, and, if you forgive…

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A Day at the Port Arthur Heritage Site I’m taking the Escape Hatch on its first decent drive. Two friends and I set off from Hobart on the 1.5hr drive to the Port Arthur Heritage Site on a wet Saturday morning in July. What is the Port Arthur Historic Site? Port Arthur was established as a timber mill in 1830 and then in 1833 developed in to a penitentiary for secondary offenders in the colony of Van Diemen’s Land. Now known as Tasmania. It was named after the Lieutenant Governor George Arthur of Van Diemen’s Land. The name Port Arthur…

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