Saturday, 16 December 2017

Arrival at Cascade Bay

This was the fifth of six short pieces of writing, with a reflective statement, which was part of the first assessment for Writing the Family Saga.

Mary allowed the soldier to pull her off the boat on to the sand. Relatively dry land at last.

She turned to look at the Surprize, the ship that had brought 150 female convicts to Norfolk Island. Waves were pounding against the sides of the ship and over the deck. Waves were pounding on the nearby rocks. Waves were rushing on to the sand. A little further up the beach were the bodies of three convicts, drowned when their boat capsized. Other convicts were missing. Somehow Mary had survived. She was safe, for now.

The trip from Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island normally took a week but, due to stormy weather, it was seventeen days before the women were allowed to disembark. Looking around this isolated island Mary must have wondered when her punishment would end.

What had she been expecting? It was difficult to imagine anything further from her previous life. The wind whined through the tall pine trees towering over everything else on the island. In the distance a few wooden huts among plots of land, where convicts attempted to grow crops, could be seen. That was all.

Returning to England was impossible. Was it really more than two years since her arrest? Since then she had endured prison before being loaded on the Lady Juliana for the interminable journey to Sydney Cove. So much had happened; memories of her family were in the dim past.

The convicts were rounded up to begin the next stage of their lives.

Mary was seventeen.

Writing about Mary is not easy as she obviously led a challenging life.

It is not possible to know how Mary felt arriving at Cascade Bay in 1790. Tired and cold after the rough trip from Sydney Cove, she would be traumatised witnessing the drowning of fellow convicts. She almost certainly wondered how she could survive in this foreign environment.

We do know, however, that Mary died in the Liverpool Asylum in 1829.

New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters

State Records of New South Wales. Liverpool Lunatic Asylum

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