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ON THIS DAY…… 13th January 1933

At the sittings of the Supreme Court Geelong before Mr. Justice McFarlan was the trial of Manus Diamond, 47 years, a labourer, on a charge of robbery. On the night of 13th of January, Diamond went into the bedroom of his 90 year old mother and demanded money. She declined and went to the kitchen, where Diamond stole a small purse Mrs Diamond had tied round her neck. The purse contained £43. Diamond was sent to the Geelong Gaol.

 

 

Life in Coal river (Newcastle) and Macquarie Harbour (Tasmania) was hell on earth and many Convicts felt that death was their only hope of escape. Unfortunately, many of the Irish Convicts were catholic and feared that suicide (an unforgivable sin) would send them to an eternal hell. To solve this dilemma, they devised a plan based on teamwork. Four Convicts would draw straws; one to be murdered, one to be the murderer and two to act as witnesses at the murder trial so as to ensure a conviction. The plan was win win all round. The victim would escape life without fear of going to hell. The murderer would be executed and also escape life. As for the witnesses, they would have to testify at a trial in either Sydney or Hobart and thus have a holiday.

 

 

A group of Convicts got the idea that China was across some river just north of Sydney. Comforted by this knowledge, 20 male Convicts and a pregnant female set off on foot to build a new life in China. One died of exhaustion, four were speared by Aborigines and the remainders stumbled back into Sydney a week later.

On this day …….. 31st of December 1790

The First Fleet, containing the officers and convicts who would first settle Australia, arrived in Botany Bay on the 18th of January 1788. The colony’s Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on the 26th of January 1788. The penal colony of New South Wales struggled, but managed to survive largely through the efforts of Governor Phillip. He was a practical man who had suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal was rejected. Phillip faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony. The convicts were not skilled in farming, and unwilling to work hard in the intense heat and humidity of Australia. British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years. On this day in 1790, twenty-five bushels of barley were successfully harvested. This went a long way towards alleviating food shortages. The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.

 

GEELONG GAOL KITCHEN – 1867

The cook-house was on the ground floor, and contains a large fire range built of brick, fixed into which are four large iron boilers where the prisoners food is cooked. There are also large ovens for the baking of bread, and altogether the room is fitted up in a very comfortable style, having every necessary convenience. Two of the prisoners are to be seen here, one acting as cook and the other as his assistant, and well they know their work, if we may judge of the savoury smells, proceeding from the iron boilers on the fire, of good boiled beef and potatoes.