Skip to main content

Sarah Island

I've taken the challenge to use the word prompt 'Madness' proposed by Brenda Arledge.

Remains of an Oven: Sarah Island

Remains of an Oven: Sarah Island

Sarah Island was one of the most feared penal settlements in Australia. Situated in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast of Tasmania, it is in the path of the Roaring Forties. Convicts who had reoffended were sent to the island where they worked all day in icy cold water. Food was minimal and often rotten. There was little shelter from the wind and rain and floggings were frequent. Solitary confinement was also used to punish the convicts even though it was already known that it made them go insane.

Sarah Island: A Convict's Lament

They sent us to some distant shore
With all our life behind
Mothers, fathers, children, sweethearts
Who we’d see no more.

The vast and rolling ocean
Tossed and turned us at its will
With winds to blow, and fill
The sails, or let them hang down, still.

They shackled us to go ashore
With bitter grief to bear
And made us work and toil
And flogged us to do more.

At night, wind howled
Around the shack
We’d built with timber raw
And crept its way in through the gaps
With cold and icy claws.

We thought we’d die
Every night but every day
Brought more
Of working shackled
In water deep
While our hunger gnawed.

They flogged us then
And locked us up
Each one on his own
With nothing more for company
But thoughts
Of all that’s gone.

© 2021 Nan Hewitt

Related Articles