Richard Davey: The Sarah Island Conspiracies
James Porter: The Travails of Jimmy Porter
Richard Davey: Sarah Island: People, Ships and Shipwrights. A Guided Tour.
Phil Fitzpatrick & Richard Davey: The Ship That Never Was: Comic Strip.
Video / DVD: The Strahan Kid - The Early Life of a Gordon River Piner.

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The Sarah Island Conspiracies by Richard Innes Davey

"I was always an outsider, an observer, but Sarah Island was inescapable: I saw their hunger and pain; I felt their desperation and terrible loneliness. I watched them bleed and weep and die. But I also saw a growing resolve not to be beaten. They would not bow down."

Throughout the twelve years of the Penal Settlement at Macquarie Harbour from 1822 till 1833, a clerk, known only as GK, visits Sarah Island periodically, a shadowy figure, a minor bureaucrat charged with minor tasks to perform, who observes the men banished to the Island behind the Gates of Hell, and is slowly drawn into their world.

Sixty years later, as the 19th Century draws to a close, he writes his account of those Voyages: The Sarah Island Conspiracies.

The Sarah Island Conspiracies is a record of twelve voyages to Macquarie Harbour by a shipping clerk from the Hobart Commissariat, an account of the struggle for Sarah Island between 1822 and 1833 and of a final Great Escape.

The Travails of Jimmy Porter by James Porter

"Born in the neighbourhood of London in 1802 - parents moving in a respectable sphere of life - when six years old I was transferred to the care of my grandmother by her particular request, tho' not without great reluctance on the part of my mother. I remained happy under the care of my grandmother (going to school regularly until I was 12 years of age) and whose kindness you will find in the Sequel proved my ruin - at 12 years old I could write a tolerable hand and was pretty forward in arithmetic: but being punished by my schoolmaster for placing hair in his cane so that when he chastised any of us it would split up and cut his hand, and indeed to this day and through all my misfortunes and rambles the same propensity for mischief haunts me."

So begins the life story of James Porter - convict, thief, sailor and scallywag - which he wrote on Norfolk Island in 1842 after a sentence of death, incured for the piracy of the Frederick from Macquarie Harbour in 1834, was set aside.

James Porter's story is an intriguing and entertaining yarn and one which touches us for a very simple reason. Porter's simple and persistent desire, in the face of all setbacks, is to be a free man.

Sarah Island: People, Ships and Shipwrights. A Guided Tour by Richard Davey

"The Macquarie Harbour Settlement was established to put the fear of God and Hell into the Van Diemens Land prisoners who provided free or cheap labour to the growing number of free settlers in the colony...
The Sarah Island story has always been told as one of unremitting "depravity, degradation and woe". But the story has been created in part by well-meaning propaganda put about by the Anti-Transportation League... and also by inacurate and exaggerated convict accounts... removing some of the layers of propaganda reveals the real lives of the prisoners and warders, officials, servants and soldiers."

Sarah Island: People, Ships and Shipwrights has been designed as a follow-up reference to the Guided Tour of Sarah Island, conducted by members of The Round Earth Company. The stories and information on the guided tour, and in this publication, have been drawn from original sources in the Tasmanian State Archives, the Mitchell and Dixon Libraries, and from other sources in Australia and Great Britain.

The Ship That Never Was: Comic Strip by Phil Fitzpatrick and Richard Davey

Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour. This tiny island inside the 'Hell's Gates' of Macqurie Harbour on Tasmania's West Coast was intended to operate as a purgatory to which recalcitrants were sent until 1833, when the Port Arthur Prison was available to deal with those who bucked a harsh and tyrannical system. Escape was supposed to be impossible: that did not stop 180 men from making desperate attempts. Some suceeded, most failed. The most successful was this, the last.

The Ship That Never Was: Comic Strip is a fun and informative version of the story re-enacted in Tasmania's, and possibly Australia's, longest running play about the capture of the Frederick from Macquarie Harbour by Convict Pirates in 1834.


Marcus Clark: For the Term of His Natural Life
Richard Butler: The Men That God Forgot
Richard Flanagan: Gould's Book of Fish

Histories and Commentaries:
Thomas Lempriere: The Penal Settlements of Van Diemens Land (1839)
Dr. John West: A History of Tasmania (1842)
Ian Brand: Sarah Island (1984)
Robert Hughes: The Fatal Shore (1988)
Sian Rees: The Ship Thieves
Adam Courtney: The Ship That Never Was (2018)