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«FLINDERS UNIVERSITY MARITIME ARCHAEOLOGY MONOGRAPHS SERIES Number 7 Convict Probation and the Evolution of Jetties in Tasmania Rick Bullers FLINDERS ...»

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Number 7

Convict Probation and the Evolution of

Jetties in Tasmania

Rick Bullers



The Department of Archaeology and the Graduate Program in Maritime Archaeology gratefully

acknowledges the financial support provided by Comber Consultants Pty Ltd, the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) and the Faculty of Educations, Humanities, Law and Theology (EHLT) Faculty Research Budget in the printing of this volume.

 Rick Bullers (Flinders University of South Australia), 2007 Produced by the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University GPO Box 2100 Adelaide, South Australia, 5001 Prepared by Claire P. Dappert Designed by Katherine L. Dix Published by Shannon Research Press, South Australia ISBN: 978-1920736-23-1 Front cover illustration: Bishop Nixon sketch showing the Plunkett Point Coal Jetty (Jetty 4) and the Commissariat Store and jetty (Jetty 5) (AOT, Bishop Nixon, c.1846).

i Preface Abstract When the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania's southeast, was one of the principal convict management centres during the early- to mid19th century, several convict stations were established under both the assignment and probation systems. The Peninsula's remoteness prompted a variety of port structures such as jetties and wharves to be constructed to service the vessels that were the regions only link to the outside world. After closure of the convict stations, the sites became nuclei for the introduction of free settlement on the Peninsula. Over the years, the jetty structures were added to, reconstructed or replaced to service the expanding orchard industry. The jetties retained their importance until regular steamer services ceased in the 1950s.

This report documents the sequence of maritime infrastructure, from historical documentation, at four former probation stations on the north coast of the Tasman Peninsula, to allow more accurate interpretation of each site's archaeological record.

ii Acknowledgments This report has been prepared as part of an internship with Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA) and Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS). Thanks to my supervisor, Dr Mark Staniforth of Flinders University’s Department of Archaeology, for arranging the internship.

Special thanks are due to the following: Greg Jackman and Richard Tuffin of the Conservation and Infrastructure Department at PAHSMA for their assistance and introduction to the Tasman Peninsula probation stations, Sue Hood and Ken Lee in PAHSMA’s resource room for their unstinting assistance in finding appropriate reference material, and Mike Nash, Maritime Archaeologist with PWS, for loan of equipment and access to files on historic shipwrecks around Tasmania.

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Contents PREFACE








The Assignment and Probation Systems

Convict Stations on the Tasman Peninsula

Jetties and the Post-Convict Period




Maritime Infrastructure



Mining Operations

Maritime Infrastructure




Maritime Infrastructure




Maritime Infrastructure


Cascades Station

Coal Mines Station

Impression Bay Station

Saltwater River Station


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources



Figure 1. Cascades Station in 1857 showing route of tramway from sawmill to jetty (AOT PWD 266/1842, Cascades, Tasman Peninsula, May 1857)

Figure 2. 1876 survey map by G.

C. Smith showing position of the original convict-built jetty at Cascades. The route chosen for the new approach road in 1895 is shown in blue. (AOT PWD 18/1/2862, G.C. Smith, Tasman Peninsula Cascades, 1876)......... 8 Figure 3. Sites being considered for construction of a new jetty at Cascades. A = old site; B = proposed Newman’s Creek site. (AOT PWD 18/1/362, R. Robinson, Proposed jetty Cascades, Tasman Peninsula, 6 February 1883)

Figure 4. A plan of the proposed new jetty at Cascades.

The plan is for a 400ft long, 18ft wide structure, but the jetty that was constructed was actually shorter and narrower. Note the new structure used the old (repaired) convict-built stone abutment, and a shed was already in situ. (AOT PWD 18/1/362, R. Robinson, Proposed jetty Cascades, Tasman Peninsula, 6 February 1883)

Figure 5. A plan of the Coal Mines c.

1837. The original wharf and jetty (Jetty 1) is to the left, and the new much longer jetty (Jetty 2) is to the right. (AOT CSO 5/72/1584, Mining Establishment at Coal Point, 1837, p.85.)

Figure 6. Construction detail of the new 1837 jetty (Jetty 2) showing the interesting shoreward-leaning batter to the piles.

(AOT CSO 5/72/1584, Mining establishment at Coal Point, 1837, p.85)

Figure 7. Timber tram rails used for carting coal to Jetties 1 and 2 (AOT CSO 5/103/2329, Sections of railroad proposed to be constructed at Coal Point, 12 Jan 1838, p.


Figure 8. A plan of the Coal Mines showing the original wharf and jetty (Jetty 1) and the small jetty to its north (Jetty 3).

(AOT ML31, Probation Station Coal Point, Tasman’s Peninsula, c.1842, p.85)

Figure 9. A sketch of the Coal Mines by Bishop Nixon c.

1846, showing Plunkett Point Coal Jetty (Jetty 4) and the Commissariat Store and jetty (Jetty5) (AOT, Bishop Nixon, c.1846)

Figure 10. Another Bishop Nixon sketch showing the Plunkett Point Coal Jetty (Jetty 4) and the Commissariat Store and jetty (Jetty 5) (AOT, Bishop Nixon, c.

1846)............... 18 Figure 11. Coal Mines Station from Jetty 2.

(NLA R4964/1-2, Conrad Martens, The Coal Mines, Tasman’s Peninsula, n.d.)

Figure 12. Coal Mines Station from Jetty 4 (Plunkett Point).

(NLA R4964/1-2, Conrad Martens, The Coal Mines, Tasman’s Peninsula, n.d.)

v Figure 13. Plan of the Coal Mines in 1875. Note the bottom end of the inclined tramway has been re-routed away from the collapsed Plunkett Point jetty to the Commissariat Jetty (Pembroke 76 Central Plan Office)

Figure 14. Commissariat Store and jetty, c.

1890s (AOT 30/4575)

Figure 15. Commissariat Store without jetty, c.

1913 (AOT 30/3413)

Figure 16. Construction detail of the new extensions in 1890.

Note the pointed head rather than the T-head used elsewhere. (AOT PWD 18/1/2014, Additions – Jetty Premaydena Impression Bay, 1890)

Figure 17. The four extensions made to the jetty between 1922 and 1943 (AOT PWD 1/1/163, Premaydena Jetty, Impression Bay: plan showing extensions and present jetty, 24 Jun 1943)

Figure 18. Plans for the new stone abutment for Saltwater River jetty, built 1886 (AOT PWD 18/1/841, Jetty Saltwater River extension and completion: abutment on shore end, c.


Figure 19. The jetty at Saltwater River, looking back towards the Superintendent's house, probably c.

1880s. Note the iron tram rails and chairs, and the fence on the western side. (AOT 30/5425, Salt Water River, n.d.)

Figure 20. Plans for the head extension at Saltwater River jetty in 1943.

The plans call for placing two 18’ x 10’ fillers in the neck of the ‘T’, giving the quay dimensions of 30’ x 38’ (AOT AD 266/1/815, N. McNeill, Saltwater River Jetty proposed extension, 22 February 1943)

vi Tables Table 1. Main convict stations established on Tasman Peninsula

Introduction Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania’s south east, was one of the principal convict management centres during the period that Van Diemen’s Land was a destination for convict transportation.

During this period, a number of convict stations were established under both the assignment and probation systems. The majority of publications that document the history of the Peninsula concentrate on the terrestrial aspects of the convict stations. However the Peninsula formed virtually a restricted-access island with a network of ports to service the vessels that provided the main form of transport and communication (Jackman, 2004: 12). A variety of port structures such as jetties and wharves were constructed during the convict period, and these were added to, reconstructed or replaced over the subsequent free-settlement period to service the burgeoning orchard industry. This report documents the sequence of maritime infrastructure, from historical documentation, at four former probation stations on the north coast of the Tasman Peninsula, to allow more accurate interpretation of each site’s archaeological record.

The remainder of this chapter gives a brief introduction to the assignment and probation systems that were the basis for convict management in Van Diemen’s Land. It should be noted that in other penal colonies only the assignment system was used, and probation was an ultimately unsuccessful experiment trialled only in Van Diemen’s Land.

The following four chapters are devoted to each of the four probation stations, Cascades, Coal Mines, Impression Bay and Saltwater River, briefly describing the establishment and operation of each station as well as the evolution of maritime structures from the convict period into the 20th century. The final chapter provides a summary of each component of relevant maritime infrastructure.

The Assignment and Probation Systems Since the first days of settlement in the Australian colonies convicts had been transported under the assignment system. Contrary to general assumption, convicts were not automatically sent to labour gangs, or the penal settlements such as Maria Island, Macquarie Harbour, and later, Port Arthur. Transfer to these establishments was usually as punishment for further offences committed after arrival in the colony. Under the assignment system, convicts were assigned to work for free settlers, or sometimes to the Public Works Department (PWD) as unpaid labourers.


The majority of assigned convicts worked on the land, but some were also employed as domestic servants. Assignment of convicts occurred aboard the transport ship when it arrived in Hobart Town. Convicts were required to remain in the service of their assigned masters until either formally transferred, their sentence had expired, or they were granted a ticket-of-leave or pardon (conditional or absolute). Initially, the government favoured this method of convict management because costs were limited to the administration of the system. The costs associated with providing convicts with clothing, food, shelter and medical attention were born by the settlers they were assigned to.

However, by the 1830s, resistance to the assignment system was gaining momentum in Britain.

The system was becoming regarded as little more than slavery, ineffective for either reform or deterrence (Brand, 1990: 1). In addition, it was deemed to be an inconsistent form of punishment because convicts could be treated either harshly or laxly depending on the character or individual circumstances of the master. The assignment system had been the very basis of Lieutenant Governor Arthur’s penal code. Probation was a result of the 1837-38 Molesworth Committee.

Arthur’s replacement, Sir John Franklin, was instructed to implement the trial system in early 1839.

Under the probation system, convicts were subjected to five stages of punishment, decreasing in severity as time and good conduct progressed (Brand, 1990: 17). The first stage was served in a penitentiary or in hulks in Britain prior to transportation to either Norfolk Island or Van Diemen’s Land, which had by now become the only destinations in the Australian colonies for transportees.

In the second stage, convicts were placed in a system of probationary gangs in which they would work with up to 300 men, with a superintendent in charge. To overcome potential problems arising from large numbers of prisoners congregating together, they would first be strictly classified and initially confined using the separate system, A system whereby convicts were housed in individual cells or apartments where they would eat, sleep and work. This is a different concept to solitary confinement, where prisoners were confined in small dark cells as an extra form of punishment for misconduct though this rarely happened in practice. In addition, they were subjected to a program of moral and religious instruction in the belief that this would engender reform.

In the probation gangs, prisoners were worked at hard labour, but the gangs were split into three divisions with differing levels of severity of labour. Under a regime of reward and penalty, prisoners could be moved between divisions to undertake lesser or harsher forms of labour. In addition, each prisoner was awarded daily credits or debits for good or bad behaviour. As their level of credits increased, their period of confinement could be reduced, or conversely, extended if the debits mounted.

As perceived merit decreed, a prisoner could move on to the third stage – the attainment of a probation pass with which he might gain paid work. There were three classes of pass that differed primarily in the proportion of wages that the convict received with the rest being held in account by the Government. The probation pass could be revoked for misconduct, and the convict returned to the probation gangs. Gaining a ticket-of-leave was the fourth stage, which was valid only within the colony. The final stage was the pardon (either conditional or absolute).

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