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the story


On June 4th 1812 under the command of John Cross, the Indefatigable set sail to transport 200 convicts to Van Diemen's Land, (Tasmania). Built in 1799, at Whitby for James Atty & Co. she was as a square-rigged three-master with a length of 127 feet and had three decks. Her hull was sheathed in copper. She sailed via Rio de Janeiro and arrived at Port Jackson on 6 December. Of the convicts on board 149 had been sentenced to life, one commuted from death, 22 to 14 years and 29 to 7 years.

Pursuant to the so-called "Bloody Code", by the 1770s there were 222 crimes in Britain which carried the death penalty, almost all of which were crimes against property. These included such offences as the stealing of goods worth over 5 shillings, the cutting down of a tree, the theft of an animal, even the theft of a rabbit from a rabbit warren. The "Bloody Code" was gradually rescinded in the 1800s because judges and juries considered its punishments too harsh. Since lawmakers still wanted punishments to deter potential criminals, they increasingly applied transportation as a more humane alternative to execution.

1812 Indefatigable The Story 1812 Indefatigable The Story 1812 Indefatigable The Story
Van Diemen's Land Map

Around 60,000 convicts were transported to the British colonies in North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. When the American Revolutionary War brought an end to that means of disposal, the British Government looked elsewhere. After James Cook's famous voyage to the South Pacific in which he visited and claimed the east coast of Australia in the name of the British Empire, he described Botany Bay, the bay on which present-day Sydney sits, as an ideal place to establish a settlement. In 1788 the First Fleet arrived and the first British colony in Australia was established.

Tasmania's convict past was once considered a regrettable taint on the islands early history. Today, the state's convict sites – such as Port Arthur, Sarah Island and Richmond – are intriguing and valued relics of Tasmania's fascinating colonial heritage. Underpinned by its rich heritage and with unsurpassed natural ingredients, Tasmanian Whisky has developed into a significant force on the global scene – with Sullivans Cove Whisky leading the charge.

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1812 Indefatigable