If you're going to escape from prison, Australia's hardly
the easiest place to hitch a ride home from. Nonetheless,
theres some incredible tales of the few who made a break for
John Donahue and the bushrangers
Bushrangers are seen as heroes in Australia, representing
rebellion and and triumph over authority. The most celebrated
bushranger of them all was John Donahue, a young Dubliner
who was sentenced to transportation for life in 1823.
After his escape he roamed the bush, besieging the settlers
and living off a life of plunger. He used to hang out in the
caves near Picton.
John Donahue was eventually shot dead in 1830 by a policeman
and his tale is immortalised in the Ballad of Bold Jack, banned
at the time as a treason song.
The penal colony at Sarah Island was meant to have been impossible
to escape from. More than 180 escape attempts are known to
have been made but few were successful: most escapees perished
in the rainforest and many returned voluntarily after a few
Some did make it. Alexander Pearce escaped Sarah Island twice,
and only survived by eating his companions. He later told
his companions that he preferred human flesh to normal food.
Another great tale is of the convicts who stole the Cyprus,
a supply vessel carrying a group of convicts to Macquarie
Harbour. They seized the vessel on route, dumped the officers
and crew on shore and sailed off to Japan where they pretended
to be ship wrecked British mariners. They were sent all the
way back to Britain as poor starving shipwrecked sailors.
Unfortunately one of them was strolling through London town
when who should he meet but the ex-police constable from Hobart
town who recognised his tattoos.
William Buckley escaped from Sorrento in Victoria in 1803.
He spent 30 years living with the aborigines and wore a long
beard and kangaroo skins. When he returned to civilisation
he had completely forgot the English language and had to learn
to speak again. He was completely pardoned and became a respected