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Macquarie Harbour Penal Station Index of case studies

Introduction

Condition

Pressure

Response

Acknowledgment

Strategic and systematic process for the integrated identification and assessment of cultural heritage protection priorities

Distribution of archaeological features on Sarah Island graded according to estimated condition

Breakdown of surviving Macquarie Harbour correspondence

Estimated % surviving Macquarie Harbour correspondence

Correspondence survival rates over time

Introduction

Macquarie harbour case study location map

Macquarie Harbour penal station was a site of secondary punishment established in 1822 on Tasmania's west coast. It was one of a number of coercive regimes set up in south-east Australia according to the recommendations of the Bigge report of 1819. The station was abandoned in November 1833 and the remaining convict population transferred to the new penal station at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. During the 11 years of Macquarie Harbour's operation approximately 1,150 male and 30 female prisoners served time there. They were employed in a variety of tasks ranging from ganged labour in irons to highly skilled tasks managed through a reward system. Their main activities focussed on the exploitation of local timber resources, especially Huon pine. Over 120 vessels, ranging from dinghies to three masted barques, were constructed. Other prisoners were employed in boat crews, as blacksmiths, carpenters watchmen, constables and overseers. The small number of female prisoners worked as hospital orderlies, laundresses, and servants to officers.

After the publication of Marcus Clarke's For the Term of His Natural Life in 1884, Macquarie Harbour attained widespread notoriety as one of the worst sites of punishment in the British Empire. This attitude continues to affect popular perceptions so that Macquarie Harbour is widely seen as a place where the hardened sweepings of the convict colonies of eastern Australia were subjected to a regime of terrifying violence. Yet recent assessments of Macquarie Harbour challenge many of these assumptions. For instance, in many cases the crimes were relatively minor, ranging from theft, absconding from their place of employment, insubordination, mutinous conduct on the voyage to Australia or, in some cases, as 'volunteers' to work in the boat crews or shipyards. In addition, analysis of punishment records reveal that, while levels of punishment were extreme in the early years of the settlement, they diminished over time. After January 1829, the regime was benign compared to other locations. One possible reason for this is that, as the station developed its industrial functions, the balance of work shifted from the employment of ganged labour in land clearance and reclamation, to more skilled tasks managed by reward instead of the use of force.

Macquarie Harbour Penal Station is a site of considerable significance with its landscape little affected by subsequent development. Although many of the remaining structures were partially demolished to obtain building materials in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, archaeological deposits appear to have been largely undisturbed. The Department of Parks, Tourism, Heritage and Arts (DPTHA) have recorded over 100 features associated with the former penal station, many of which are located within the World Heritage Area. Much of the original paperwork survives in Australian and British archives. Several journals, diaries and narratives written by officials, convicts, and visitors to the settlement have also been preserved. As well as being one of the best documented penal stations, at least 20 nineteenth century images of the settlement are held in various Australian public collections.

The site makes a major contribution to our understanding of society and culture. Convict ancestry has become a source of pride making transportation an important element in Tasmanian (and the wider Australian) identity. Even so the penal station's terrible reputation has coloured Tasmanian perceptions of the wilderness as a hostile environment (e.g. A Terrible Beauty: History of the Gordon River Country 1985 by Richard Flanagan). The site is an early, well-documented example of the modern bureaucratic state in action which demonstrates, by its remote location, the global reach of British capitalism. Its selection, accessible only by sea, and with numerous islands, emphasises British competence and confidence as seafarers, an essential component of imperial power. The cultural landscape, along with the built, manufactured, pictorial, and written heritage of the penal station make an important contribution, not only to an understanding of Tasmania's convict past, but to the processes of colonisation in Australia.

Location

Although the main settlement at Macquarie Harbour penal station was located on Sarah Island (sometimes referred to as Headquarters Island or Settlement Island) the station itself encompassed a wide area (see Tas Maps: Cape Sorell 7913 and Franklin 8013). Other significant sites (with grid references) include:

Pilot's Station Kelly 3432 525 245
Phillips Island Cape Sorell 7913 72 117
Grummet Island/ Small Island Cape Sorell 7913 73 062
Farm Cove Cape Sorell 758 095
Hallidays Island Cape Sorell 7913 724 041
Soldiers Island Philips 3631 762 104

Pine was cut from Kellys, Brisbane, and Wrights Basins as well as from Birches Inlet and the Gordon-below-Franklin River. Places named after people who were at the penal station indicate the extent of its reach.

Hells Gates Cape Sorell 7913 525 251
Liberty Point Cape Sorell 7913 612 17
Lucas Creek Cape Sorell 7913 625 111(named after the settlement pilot James Lucas)
Schofield Creek Cape Sorell 7913 63 105 (Revd William Schofield Wesleyan missionary)
Butler Creek Cape Sorell 7813 659 087 (Commandant Butler)
Baylee Creek Cape Sorell 7913 686 074 (Commandant Baylee)
Richardsons Bay Cape Sorell 7913 698 069 (probably named after the place at which Constable Richardson was murdered)
Briggs Creek Cape Sorell 7913 699 042 (Commandant Briggs)
Cuthbertson Creek Cape Sorell 7913 728 989 (Commandant Cuthbertson)
Commandant Creek Cape Sorell 7913 732 976
Kinghorn Creek Cape Sorell 7913 (master of the brig Waterloo)
Butler Rivulet
Spence River

In an effort to assess cultural heritage protection priorities for Macquarie Harbour Penal Station a strategic and systematic process was applied. The first stage of the process involves 'mapping' significant themes in Tasmania's history and identifying and assessing the condition and pressure of surviving expressions of these themes (heritage categories).

Strategic and systematic process for the integrated identification and assessment of cultural heritage protection priorities

The condition of each heritage category is scored based on category specific criteria. To assess pressure, a score for both threat and rarity is given as an indication of the necessity for management action. Further information is available in the Cultural Heritage Chapter.

Condition

Cultural landscape

The cultural landscape is a result of the interaction between the inhabitants of the penal colony and the unfamiliar environment in which they were placed. It is invested, not only with the meanings they gave it, but those of subsequent generations. Unlike the prior occupants and owners of the land-the Aboriginal people, whose meanings and economic usage of the land were determined by it-the colonists tried to impose an economy and system of values derived from Britain, linked to the development of capitalism and industrialisation. Essentially they sought to exploit the resources rather than work with them. As a result the landscape underwent more rapid changes than at any other time in its history. Some of these: building, farming, land reclamation, quarrying, and mining, are still evident, others less so. In particular, although timber was cut for boat building, and to clear land for farming, most of the area is now covered with regrowth. The introduction of new species and the economic exploitation of existing plants, animals, and habitats also had a considerable impact on local flora and fauna. There are still European roses and hawthorn growing in the area.

The tangible evidence of cultural practice, the loss of Huon pine, the creation of farm land, and the existence of sub-strata footing with some ruins gives the site a score of between 28% and 32%. Since it is in a World Heritage Area and managed by the DPTHA the score belongs at the higher end of the range: Score: 31 to 32%.

Places and features

Sarah Island, small, tree covered, and located at the southern end of Macquarie Harbour, was the most drastically altered by the convict presence. As the administrative centre, it was heavily built, with over 100 features extant. Farm Cove, a wind sheltered peninsula, consisted of 80-100 acres of land cleared for farming, principally growing potatoes and rearing pigs. The other farm site was Philip Island, about one kilometre west of the mouth of the Braddon River, on the north-east shore of the harbour. Apart from the farm (1826-33), there was little intervention. Macquarie Harbour was the first place in Tasmania (and only the second in Australia) to be mined for coal. However, the mining at Coal Head-an exposed cliff face of 50 metres with seams of ignite-shows little evidence of workings. These were probably limited to picking up coal from the beach.

These places indicate the types of economic activities carried out at Macquarie Harbour. Essentially it was designed for production, with farming supposed to provide the nutritional requirements of the convict work force. Potatoes were chosen (as in other parts of the Empire, most notoriously Ireland) as an easily grown crop which freed workers from subsistence agriculture for economically productive activities. Sarah Island provides built evidence (in microcosm) of British principles of administration, that of a centre controlling a periphery.

There are about 100 features which have survived from Macquarie Harbour's convict past. They indicate the resourcefulness, and technological ability of the nineteenth century British and how it was used in an unfamiliar environment. They provide spatial evidence of the social hierarchy of the site, one that was essentially British, but adapted to a new environment and circumstances.

Many of the features are remnants of buildings, the government (or commandant's) house, outhouses such as kitchens, the military barracks, gaol, bakehouse, with intact oven, houses, two commissariat stores, sheds, huts, penitentiary, and hospital as well as the shoemaker, nail maker, blacksmith, and carpenter shops. There are ruins of other structures such as wells, wind breaks, fences, cisterns, and paths. There is much evidence of the site's core activities, shipbuilding and sea faring. The shoreline at the southern end of the island was turned into an almost continuous line of dock and wharf facilities. Wharves, slipways, jetties, and two boat basins are all associated with reclaimed land, made up of Huon pine logs and rock infill. The wharves were built to stabilise the reclaimed land, while the boat basins were enclosed by the wharf system. Jetties were made out of reclaimed spits. The construction is an example of significant engineering skills in difficult conditions. It indicates the labour intensive nature of the convict system. In addition, structural evidence remains of other economic activity, some of it associated with boat building. There are sawpits, a possible exploratory mine shaft (which could be a well), quarries, and stockpiles of sandstone blocks or Huon pine.

The abandonment and subsequent lack of interest in the site for many years contributed to its deterioration. In addition, officials arranged for useful building materials like mantles, doors, and window frames to be removed when they left. The entire cottage of the chaplain, Reverend Schofield, was dismantled, probably to be recycled as military quarters at Port Arthur. However, the remote location and difficulty of access to the site meant that, apart from a few miners and tourists, it was undisturbed. Although the site's relative lack of economic importance means that it is not threatened by development, disuse has led to disrepair.

The condition of the remains ranges from sub-soil or rubble, to structures of varying condition such as chimneys, fireplaces, footings, cuttings, walls, post holes, and a brick floor. Government house, the master ship builder's house, the probable commissariat's house, the shipwright's shed, the old penitentiary and hospital are in the worst condition, with only sub-soil remains surviving. Some above soil structures are left of the commandant's kitchen, the chaplain's outhouse, the commandant's and superintendent's quarters, the nail maker's shop, the blacksmith's shop, and a gardener's cottage. The oven in the bakehouse is complete. Since it is horizontal, the reclaimed land, with its system of wharves and jetties, has not collapsed, and so is the best preserved structure on the site. One small dock is complete.

The condition of places was measured as a function of associated features. On the basis of the score the distribution of Sarah Island features by condition are:

Distribution of archaeological features on Sarah Island graded according to estimated condition

An overall score was achieved by taking a mean = 38.6 (n = 100).

Objects

Apart from drawings and paintings, only seven objects from the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station were located. They were:

  • Three Huon pine grave boards. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • A Huon pine letter opener fashioned in 1938 from a beam found on Settlement Island. It suggests a continuing fascination with Macquarie Harbour five years after the station was abandoned. Score: condition 40%.
     
  • Part of a hand made brass saw inscribed 'John Douglas - Commandant's Clerk, Macquarie Harbour'. Apparently a gift, it suggests the importance of a competent clerk's services in a system that was dependent on letter writing and record keeping. It is damaged. Score: condition 35%.
     
  • A large brass Russian samovar belonging to Captain Briggs, the commandant from 1829 to 1831: as a possible souvenir of the Napoleonic Wars, it is an indication of the global mobility of many British subjects. The samovar is in good condition. Score: condition 40%.
     
  • A hand forged alarm bell which, like some of the features associated with the site, is an indication of technological skills. It is reputed to have been used to alert the penal station when convicts escaped. The bell is in good condition. Score: condition 40%.
     

Nothing issued for service has apparently survived although there are equivalent items from other stations. These include:

  • Tools (sail hook, drill, auger bit, saw-toothed saw, caulking mallet, joiners gauge): the condition is good, about 80% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Eating vessels (rum ration mug and large wooden measuring bowl). The condition is good, 100% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Shoes and caps: the shoes are made of a heavy leather sole with leather uppers, while the caps are a leather forage type with extended semi-circular fold ups at the sides. The condition of both is good, 100% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Brass telescope in two cylinders, one sliding into the other. It has no lenses. There is a leather case with a loop for a belt. The telescope is from Mt Communication but similar to ones used at Macquarie Harbour. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Beam and scales for weighing small items in the store. The condition is good, 100% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Walking stick made of one piece of wood, with a handle of alternate pieces of blackwood and ivory. It was made by a convict at Port Arthur and belonged to Captain O'Hara Booth. Similar ones were made at Macquarie Harbour. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Leg irons: The condition is good, about 100% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     
  • Cat o'nine tails made of wood and cord. The condition is good, about 100% complete. Score: condition 18%.
     

Numerous watercolours sketched at the penal station have survived. They are:

  • William Buelow Gould's 'A Sketchbook of fishes'. The sketchbook is fragile but the images are in good condition with a small amount of foxing on some. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • William Buelow Gould's 'North east view of Macquarie Harbour' sketched in 1833. George Augustus Robinson employed Gould to paint the Aborigines' views of the settlement and a historical record of Robinson bringing members of the Port Davey tribe into Macquarie Harbour. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • William Buelow Gould's 'Towtrer Chief of the Port Davey Tribe, Van Diemans Land'. Towtrer was at Macquarie Harbour between 21 and 23 June 1833 (Plomley 1966). Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • Lempriere, the assistant commissariat's sketchbook. On accession, it was in rough condition, with the binding coming apart. Many of the sketches are stained with accretion and ink splashes. Some conservation work had been done on the loose pages. Although there are eleven sketches, each one is unique which reduces the condition score. Score: condition 35%.
     
  • Constantini's two sketches, a 'South-west view of Macquarie Harbour' in pencil and water colour on paper glued onto cotton or fine linen and a 'View of the gates and residence of the pilot' in pencil and water colour laid onto stretched cotton or fine linen. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • An unknown artist's sketch of a south-west view of the harbour, including a key to the buildings. These images show how the penal station looked at its peak. The painting was in the papers of George Augustus Robinson, who visited Macquarie Harbour in May 1830, August 1832, and May 1833. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • An unsigned and undated southern view of Macquarie Harbour sketched by either Lempriere or Constantini. There is some foxing and subtle creasing. The condition is somewhat deteriorated and unique. Score: condition 35%.
     
  • Thomas Bock's pencil drawings and lithographs of John Gregory, James McCabe, and Matthew Brady at trial or after execution. Score: condition not assessed.
     

There are also later watercolours and photographs of the site. Sketched or taken years after abandonment, they show a continuing fascination with the penal station, and changing perceptions of it. The images suggest the condition of the buildings in different periods. They are:

  • William Buelow Gould's oil painting of Macquarie Harbour, (1849). Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • Francis Guillemand Simpkinson de Wesselow's 'Augustus from Macquarie Harbour, Van Dieman's Land' executed in pencil, watercolour and Chinese white highlights on buff note pad paper in 1845. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • Sarah Mitchell's seven watercolour and pencil sketches of Macquarie Harbour executed in 1892 and 1916. She was born in Swansea and travelled widely within Tasmania sketching its scenes. As a prolific but untrained artist, her work is characterised by a naive style. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • Twenty-two photographs, including four from the Beattie Collection taken in 1912, 10 from the A. C. Drier collection, including three Beatties, and one by the Nankivell Brothers, Queenstown, two by Spurling, two by Charles Rudd, one from the W. H. Cooper album, and one by an unknown person. Score: condition not assessed.
     
  • Two lantern slides, one prepared by Beattie, the other by Paul MacIntyre. The Beattie slide is cracked. Score: condition 31%
     

Archival

Significant collections of archival material relating to the penal station are held by the Archives Office of Tasmania and the State Library of New South Wales (Mitchell and Dobson Collections). Smaller deposits are also held by the Public Record Office, London, and the State Records Office of New South Wales. The Department of Parks, Tourism, Heritage and Arts holds papers, compiled by Ian Brand, a former historian of the department. It is a mostly complete collection of the Macquarie Harbour records, copied by hand and arranged chronologically.

The archival material predominantly consists of correspondence (over 1,600 individual letters). While this is a remarkably complete data source, compared to other sites, it contains some significant gaps. In particular, almost no letters survive for the first two years of settlement and while there are many letters sent from Macquarie Harbour to the Colonial Secretary there are few examples of correspondence sent from Hobart before 1830.

Breakdown of surviving Macquarie Harbour correspondence

Other records were used to audit stores, establish official routines and regulate the lives of the convicts. Prisoners were routinely recorded in official documents by names, police numbers, ships, physical appearance, and day-to-day conduct. Promotions, demotions, punishments, permission to marry and the deployment of labour between sites was often decided on the basis of written records. The records for Macquarie Harbour penal station link it thematically to other convict sites in eastern Australia and locate it within an industrialising trans-global empire.

The records are good indicators of official attitudes to subject peoples but do not show how the convicts responded or what they thought of officialdom. Texts authored by convicts are particularly rare. An analysis of the few surviving narratives indicate that many have been heavily altered by editors and patrons who introduced ideological themes designed to appeal to middle-class readers.

While the surviving archival material relating to Macquarie Harbour penal station is rich in comparison to many other convict sites, it should not be taken at face value. Analysis of the written records is considerably enhanced by reading them in conjunction with other sources, especially oral testimony, archaeological, and other site related data.

The following archival material is at the Archives Office of Tasmania:

  • Assignment lists and associated papers: 1810-26, 1830-36, 1845-52 (three volumes). The lists contain details of convicts secondarily transported from NSW to Macquarie Harbour. They are on rag paper with stitched binding. The first three volumes were restored and rebound in July 1953. There have been some repairs to pages. The lists are microfilmed and the originals stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania with limited access. The completeness is difficult to assess but approximates 90%. There are complementary records. Score: condition 58%.
     
  • Description lists of male convicts 1828-53 (59 volumes). The lists contain details of individual convict's trade, (usually) native place, and physical appearance. Before 1841 the lists are loose sheets bound together. After 1841 the details are entered on to rag paper in stitch bound volumes. There is some damage to the binding. The volumes are microfilmed and stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania. They are 100% complete. Score: condition 60%.
     
  • Alphabetical register of male convicts: 1804-39 (three volumes). The convicts are arranged alphabetically, by ship, and by period of arrival. The details include number, name, physical details, marks (such as tattoos), deformities, when tried, ship from Europe, whether they came via NSW, their native place, number, date of certificate of emancipation, marriage status, religion, and remarks. The register is on rag paper backed onto acid free paper during conservation. It originally had a stitched binding but was unbound during conservation with the cover stored in the same box as the loose pages. The register was microfilmed after conservation and the master copy is stored in a separate building. Each volume is mutilated. It is 45% complete but achieves the higher score within its category because there are complementary records. Score: condition 38%.
     
  • Conduct registers of male convicts arriving in the period of the assignment system: 1803-43 (48 volumes). The registers contain information relating to the convict's history prior to his arrival in Van Diemans Land and the details of his career afterwards. They are complete. The registers are on rag paper with stitch binding. They are microfilmed and the original is stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania where it is unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. Score: condition 60%.
     
  • Supplementary conduct registers (five volumes). The volumes are a continuation of the conduct registers of the assignment period used to record colonial conduct. Extra details include number, name, and ship. They are complete. The registers are on rag paper with stitched binding. They are microfilmed and the original is stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania where they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. Score: condition 60%.
     
  • Conduct registers of female convicts arriving in the period of the assignment system 1803-43 (10 volumes). The registers are on rag paper with stitched binding. They are microfilmed with the original stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania where they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. Score: condition 60%.
     
  • Commandant's letter book 20 August 1829 - 13 September 1833 (one volume). The letters are mostly addressed to the Colonial Secretary but they include some to other officers at Macquarie Harbour. They deal with escapes, murders, supplies, emancipation, the dispatch of goods made at Macquarie Harbour to Hobart, buildings, the construction of vessels, conduct of prisoners, and the break-up of the settlement. The registers are on rag paper with stitched binding. They are complete. Score: condition 60%.
     
  • The Brand papers: these papers, collated by Ian Brand, are a comprehensive record of activities at Macquarie Harbour. They are loose-leaf paper kept in ring bind folders. Although Brand omitted some material, his work is complete. Score: condition 80%.
     

Correspondence survival rates over time:

Estimated % surviving Macquarie Harbour correspondence

Correspondence survival rates over time

Memory

There are fragments of direct first person testimony, for example in the chaplain, William Schofield's Diary. Score: condition 25% (based on Schofield's Diary).

Social and contemporary significance

The Macquarie Harbour site has the following social and contemporary significance:

  • For Aboriginal people it is a site of dispossession, incarceration, death, and burial.
     
  • There are numerous descendants of Macquarie Harbour prisoners living in Australia today.
     
  • The impression that the south-west wilderness is both beautiful and frightening can be related to the stories of Macquarie Harbour. It has contributed to the widespread perception that the Tasmanian wilderness is alien.
     
  • For industry suppliers, in conjunction with the wilderness, the old penal site plays a part in the tourism industry and economic well-being of the area.
     
  • Many visitors to the site are fascinated by it.
     
  • For academic historians the site has its own intrinsic value. The insights into historical theory gained from studies of the site can be applied elsewhere.
     
  • The site has contributed to recent literature about Tasmania including Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish: a Novel in Twelve Fish, Colin Johnson's Dr Wooreddy's Prescription for Enduring the Ending of the World, and Matthew Keane's English Passengers.
     
  • At a national level, the terrible reputation of Macquarie Harbour has coloured the convict system as a whole, contributing to the idea of a convict stain.
     
  • At an international level the site can be linked to other migratory movements, and slavery, as well as the development of globalisation, and capitalism. As international tourism develops the area, already famous for its wilderness values, will become better known for its convict heritage.
     

A preliminary rating for the social and contemporary significance of the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station is given for different stakeholder groups. The rating for each group indicates whether there is significance, and the level of the rating is scored out of 10.

Social and contemporary significance of Macquarie Harbour Penal Station

Indigenous

Yes

10

Descendants

Yes

10

Local community

Yes

10

Industry (suppliers)

Yes

5

Industry (consumers)

Yes

5

Academic

Yes

10

Literary

Yes

10

National

Yes

10

International

Yes

5

Pressure

To assess pressure, a score for both threat and rarity is needed, as either can be an indication that action is required.

Cultural landscape

Since the site is within the World Heritage Area and actively managed, the threat to it is low. It arises from visitors and, to a minor extent, from conflicting interests between environmental and heritage values. The site's condition is not likely to decrease substantially in the forseeable future although some degradation could occur. As the only example of a penal station in Tasmania it is critically scarce but not dangerously so because it is professionally managed. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).

Place and features

Most of the structures are stable so that there is only minimal pressure. However there is danger of sea erosion to a boat basin, jetty and some brick scatter. The gardener's hut and a stone wall below the penitentiary are moderately structurally unstable. The shoemaker's shop, disturbed by the roots of a blackwood tree so that some brick work has fallen over, is under high pressure. So is the commandant's clerk/superintendent's quarters which comprises of two partly standing chimney bases, threatened by erosion of the foundations. There has been a partial collapse of a chimney, leaving a precarious corner, and seven holes for a signpost have been dug nearby. Since the features are in the World Heritage Area and professionally managed, the threat to them is diminished. Although critically scarce, they are professionally managed which reduces the danger to them. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).

Objects

The threat and rarity of the three Huon pine grave boards was not assessed.

The following objects are managed by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Their condition is unlikely to decrease substantially within the next 20 years. The objects are unique, critically scarce, but less endangered because of professional management.

  • Huon pine letter opener fashioned in 1938 from a beam found on Settlement Island. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Part of a hand made brass saw inscribed 'John Douglas - Commandant's Clerk, Macquarie Harbour'. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Large brass Russian samovar belonging to Captain Briggs, the commandant from 1829 to 1831. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Hand forged alarm bell. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Tools (sail hook, drill, auger bit, saw-toothed saw, caulking mallet, joiners gauge). Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Eating vessels (rum ration mug and large wooden measuring bowl). Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Shoes and caps. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Brass telescope in two cylinders, one sliding into the other. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Beam and scales for weighing small items in the store. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Walking stick made of one piece of wood, with a handle of alternate pieces of blackwood and ivory. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Leg irons. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • Cat o'nine tails made of wood and cord. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.2).
     
  • William Buelow Gould's 'A Sketchbook of Fishes'. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.5).
     
  • Francis Guillemand Simpkinson de Wesselow's 'Augustus from Macquarie Harbour, Van Dieman's Land' executed in pencil, watercolour and Chinese white highlights on buff note pad paper in 1845. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Sarah Mitchell's seven watercolour and pencil sketches of Macquarie Harbour executed in 1892 and 1916. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     

The following objects are managed by the Mitchell Library. Their condition is unlikely to decrease substantially within the next 20 years. The objects are unique, critically scarce, but less endangered because of professional management.

  • William Buelow Gould's 'North-East View of Macquarie Harbour' sketched in 1833. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.5).
     
  • William Buelow Gould's 'Towtrer Chief of the Port Davey Tribe, Van Diemans Land'. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.5).
     
  • Thomas Bock's pencil drawings and lithographs. Since the drawings and lithographs are managed by the State Library of Tasmania's Allport Collection or the Mitchell Library, there is little threat to them. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     

The following objects are managed by other professional museum collections. Their condition is unlikely to decrease substantially within the next 20 years. The objects are unique, critically scarce, but less endangered because of professional management.

  • William Buelow Gould's oil painting of Macquarie Harbour (1849). It is actively managed by the National Library, substantial deterioration within 20 years is unlikely. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.5).
     
  • Lempriere, the assistant commissariat's sketchbook. The sketchbook is managed by the State Library of Tasmania's Allport Collection. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Constantini's two sketches. The sketches are professionally managed and so unlikely to decrease substantially within 20 years. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • An unknown artist's sketch of a south-west view of the harbour, including a key to the buildings. The threat is low because the painting is actively managed. It is critically scarce. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • An unsigned and undated southern view of Macquarie Harbour sketched by either Lempriere or Constantini. It is critically scarce but professionally managed. Scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Twenty-two photographs. Since the photographs are managed by professional institutions, they are unlikely to decrease substantially within the next 20 years. Each photograph is unique, so critically scarce, but with the higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     

The two lantern slides, one prepared by Beattie, the other by Paul MacIntyre have the scores: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).

Archival

  • Assignment lists and associated papers: 1810-26, 1830-36, 1845-52. Since the records are professionally managed, including microfilming, they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Description lists of male convicts 1828-53. Since the records are professionally managed, including microfilming, they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6)
     
  • Alphabetical register of male convicts. Since the records are in the care of the Archives Office of Tasmania, they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Conduct registers of male convicts arriving in the period of the assignment system. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Supplementary conduct registers. The documents are critically scarce, but with the higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Conduct registers of female convicts arriving in the period of the assignment system. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • Commandant's letter book. The records are microfilmed with the original stored in the Archives Office of Tasmania where they are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. The documents are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     
  • The Brand papers. The papers are managed by the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment so are unlikely to deteriorate within the next 20 years. They are critically scarce, but have a higher rarity score because they are professionally managed. Score: no present threat (factor 1.1); rarity (factor 1.6).
     

Response

  • The condition of the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station needs to be assessed in conjunction with its numerous on-site components as well as the considerable material related to it, which is elsewhere in archives or museums. The data available to quantify the condition of the penal site are an archaeological survey of Sarah Island, as well as archives, museums and art galleries' records of the condition of their holdings. Some of this information is available on web-sites. The Archives Office of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery made the information readily available on request.
     
  • There is some danger of damage to the site from human activity. For instance, two mounds of bricks associated with government house have been damaged by a bulldozer. The extensive archaeological survey carried out at Sarah Island by DPIWE to identify the features should prevent a recurrence of this action. In addition, walkways and designated campsites should minimise inadvertent damage by tourists.
     
  • The cultural heritage associated with Macquarie Harbour is dispersed between various museums, the Archives Office of Tasmania, and the Department of Parks, Tourism, Heritage and Arts. Most of the artefacts are actively managed so that the biggest danger is that dispersal will lead to their being managed out of context. To prevent this a database setting out the location of each item, its condition and pressure, has been established.
     

Acknowledgment

Caroline Evans

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