Is it simply coincidence that this week, my student e-mailed me about her visit to Australia, her favourite place being Port Arthur, a former prison colony in Tasmania?
Also, after making up our minds to travel to Australia at (Art)iculate Culture, I had stopped by the Central City library to find a timely book called “Australian Literature, An Anthology of Writing from the Land Down Under” edited by Phyllis Fahrie Adelson.
“Perfect! Just what I had need!”I had exclaimed, grabbing that book along with many other books of my interest. Then, I balanced the stack of books to the corner of the library where my suitcase was sitting. Why had I brought a suitcase to the library? I had carried the suitcase along with me with the intention of clearing my office table as my full-time job, along with the year, draws to an end.
Eventually, I realised that I had to visit my office another day due to my stubborn will of forcing all the library books into the suitcase.
The Land Down Under
Now, let’s take a trip past the equator and below to look at Australia. Taking a trip back to the 1770 when English Explorer Captain James Cook had visited the east coast of Australia in the ship Endeavour, it is of great literary concern to find out that most of the settlers who followed him there arrived in chains. With Australia’s prison origin, we are left to wonder what it means for a nation to know that it begun as a society of convicts and guards?
Before the last penal colony was closed in 1877, more than 160,000 men, women, and children, sentenced for crimes ranging from attendance at a politically suspect meeting to murder, were sent to Australia.
‘The Unknown Industrial Prisoner’ by John Ireland
This Miles-Franklin award-winning novel should be worth a read. It portrays contemporary industrial Australia as one huge prison, showing the worker as a convict and a slave to a dehumanising system of work and international business.
Featured image: Fremantle Prison by Rob