9. This Great South Land

Great South Land

What’s so great about it?

 

The following quotes from people of the First Fleet give some idea of their first impressions of a land vastly different to their own.

“Every person who came out with a design of remaining in this country were… now most earnestly wishing to get away from it…

… in the whole world there is not a worse country. All… is so very barren and forbidding that it may with truth be said that here is nature reversed; and if not so, she is nearly worn out…If the minister has a true and just description given him of it he will surely not think of sending any more people here.”

Lieutenant Governor Ross

 

“…the sterility and miserable state of New South Wales. It will be long before ever it can support itself… French bastilles, nor Spanish Inquisition could not contain more of horrors.”

Thomas Watling – Convict Artist

“I never slept worse, my dear wife, than I did last night, what with the hard cold ground, spiders, ants and every vermin you can think of was crawling over me.”

 Lieutenant Clark in his journal

We won’t see ‘ome no more

 

“…there is no other river or spring in the country that we have been able to find or meet with, all the fresh water comes out of large swamps… the country is overrun with large trees, not one acre of clear ground to be seen… nor nothing in it fit for the substance of man, what with earthquakes, thunder & lightning… the most terrible I have heard…”

David Blackburn,  Master of the ‘Supply’


“I was the convict, sent to Hell”

 

These opening lines from a famous poem by Dame Mary Gilmore, are about convict life. The following quote from ‘The Fatal Shore’ by Robert Hughes, gives a picture of the hardship experienced:

“For nine months there I was on five ounces of flour a day; when weighed out, barely four… In those days we were yoked to draw timber, twenty-five in gang. The sticks were six feet long; six men abreast. We held the stick behind us, and dragged with our hands. One man… was put to the drag; it soon did him. He began on a Thursday and died on a Saturday, as he was dragging a load down Constitution-Hill… Men used to carry trees on their shoulders. How they used to die!”

Convict Henry Hale, from the Third Fleet, 1792

 

 

 

 

 

 “…The prevalence of disease among the troops & convicts who on landing were tainted with the scurvy, and the likelihood of its continuance from the food (salt provisions) on which they are from necessity obliged to live, has made the consumption of medicines so very great that the enclosed supply will be very much wanted before any ships can possibly arrive here from England. The distress among the troops, their wives and children, as well as among the convicts, for want of necessaries to aid the operation of medicines has been great.”

Surgeon John White to Lord Sydney

Great South Land

 

Sent to work down here in this
Great South Land

What’s so great about it? 
We don’t understand!

All the flies remind us of a single fact

That we won’t see home no more!

Break the rocks up

Chop the trees down

Break the rocks up

Chop the trees down

Life in this here colony is living hell

All these bleedin’ convicts –  all they do is yell

Good thing we remembered to bring all this rum

’Cause we won’t see ’ome no more!

WORK!

Break the rocks up

Chop the trees down

WORK!

Break the rocks up

Chop the trees down

Sent to work down here in the Great South Land

What’s so great about it?  We don’t understand!

All the flies remind us of a single fact

That we won’t see ’ome no more

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