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  • Writer's pictureBridget Walsh

Transportation to Australia. #historicalresearch

I wanted to send one of the characters in my Famine trilogy to Australia. I was interested in the British Colonial conquest of this continent and wanted to show a little bit of what convict and emigrants' lives might be like in 1846.

I researched the subject by reading two books, Robert Hughes, ‘The Fatal Shore,’ and

James Boyce, ‘1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia.’

I decided that Melbourne in New South Wales was the perfect place for my character, Jane Keating. It was a new settlement in 1835 and by the time Jane got there in 1846, the citizens of Melbourne wanted to put a halt to convict transportations. Melbourne would become known as a city with no convict past and wanted only free emigrants to come and live and work there.

As a result of this, the British Government began to offer pardons to convicts who had served part of their sentence and were considered rehabilitated. They would become known as ‘Grey’s Exiles.’

I hitched Jane and her female Irish convicts to a group of 'Pentonvillians' and she was offered a free pardon, too. It would allow her to move about freely and have some control over her actions and destiny while in Australia, although she had to agree to stay there and work out her sentence.

Another aspect of Colonisation was the treatment of the Aboriginal First Nations People at that time. My character would become friends with a young Aboriginal boy and he and his family would play a role in Jane’s story and in her eventual escape attempt.


'Daughters in Exile' is available on Amazon.

Free to KU subscribers,

£2.50 in e-book

£8.99 in paperback.


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