Transported against their will, struggled to survive and then forged this great nation of Australia.
The Convicts and Wenches race in Tasmania is so named to commemorate the rich and vibrant history of the convicts who essentially became the Founders of Australia.
None of these convicts sent to Australia were hardened criminals, but simply guilty of stealing, in many cases to avoid starvation. They were, in reality, the victims of the Industrial Revolution gripping England in the mid 1700’s.
Approximately 20% of modern Australians are descended from transported convicts, this figure likely much greater in the State of Tasmania.
Once considered a blemish to have descended from a convict, it is now considered by many to be a badge of honour.
The extent to which the convict era has shaped Australia's national character is as indelible as it is profound.
The convict settlement of Port Arthur, now a popular tourist attraction, perpetuates the memory of the harsh punishment handed out to those who had the misfortune to be incarcerated there. However, it was a place of punishment for violent re-offenders and less than 3% of Tasmania’s convict population were sent there.
The vast majority of convicts transported to Tasmania never saw the inside of a prison after their arrival but instead were introduced into the work force on an assignment basis. They were given free board and lodgings and a small allowance, in exchange for their labour.
Although a form of slave labour, it was a win-win situation with the employer getting the benefit of cheap labour and the convict becoming self reliant and re-assimilated back into society. Many of those with a convict background went on to become high achievers, land owners and even politicians and successful businessmen.
This event is designed to perpetuate the memory of the convict men and women, the Founders of Australia.
Authored by Ian Cornelius
Born in Tasmania, Descended from a First Fleeter and and Proud Of It.