You, Me & Friends “History & Culture” ***Sarah Island***

April 2023 “Taste of Tasmania” Tour

After a great breakfast at Latitude 42 on day 9 of our tour, we wandered down to the waterfront to board our red World Heritage cruise catamaran. Our VIP seats had been reserved on the 2nd deck by the windows, with morning tea and lunch included. We sailed from the Strahan esplanade pier out into Macquarie Harbour, the huge waterway that protected the Gordon River.

The keynote stop of the cruise was at Sarah Island, where our guide met us and began the tour of the islands’ historic ruins. Accessible only by boat, the journey through Sarah Island’s history begins with a sense of isolation that mirrors the conditions faced by the convicts who once toiled here. The guided tours provide a vivid narrative, bringing to life the stories of hardship and ingenuity that unfolded among the dense rainforest and unforgiving terrain. Sarah island had once been the site of a “2nd offenders” internment and labour camp. It was here that the “hard men” from Port Arthur were sent if they committed further crimes. Through the day they toiled making the buildings and boats of the settlement, and at night they slept, chained in their manacles. Once a harsh penal settlement in the early 19th century, today it stands as a testament to resilience, tenacity, and the stark realities of Australia’s colonial era.

Not much is left on the island. A few of the brick buildings and fireplaces survive, along with the huon pine slipways that much of the reclaimed island still sits on. Wandering through the well-preserved ruins of the convict settlement, we couldn’t help but marvel at the clever engineering and architecture devised by the prisoners under arduous circumstances. The remains of the penitentiary, the commandants house, and the bakehouse echo with the ghosts of the past, immersing visitors in a tangible connection to Australia’s convict heritage.

Visiting Sarah Island is a journey into Tasmania’s history, where the echoes of a challenging past resonate amidst the untouched landscapes. It’s a destination that not only educates but also prompts reflection on the resilience of the human spirit against formidable odds.

Oh my gosh, we all had a fantastic day out. Thank you so much. I really didn’t expect to like all those weird and wonderful snacks during the "Curious Food Train" activity, and didn’t think they would all participate. The staff all keep thanking us for such a great day. Looking forward to next years event!