An Escaped Convict’s Uniform Found in Taranna, Tasmania, Australia
It’s a well-known fact that Australia was founded as a prison colony, so the news of an escaped convict’s uniform turning up in Australia’s first railway station was not exactly surprising. Still, the find is an example of the strange items that might turn up during a renovation and offer a glimpse into the site’s history. In this particular case, the renovation of the Norfolk Bay Convict Station offered a reminder of the station’s past as an outdoor prison colony, where one convict presumably escaped and left his uniform behind.
Norfolk Bay Convict Station was a major point of transport in colonial Australia, built in 1838 to transport goods and passengers from the calm waters of Norfolk Bay to the rockier shores of Port Arthur. Prisoners at the station would power heavy carts uphill to move passengers by land from bay to port, which offered a much safer journey than the trip by water. While the work does sound grueling, it was likely a more favorable alternative to some other prison camps where overseers had a much more watchful eye.
Port Arthur closed in 1877, at which time the Norfolk Bay Convict Station was converted to the first inn on the Peninsula. Around the turn of the century, the building underwent significant renovations to become a cozy bed and breakfast. During the renovations, a peculiar looking outfit was discovered tucked away in the ceiling, though the story of how it got there is still a mystery. While the details will never really be known, it is likely that one of the working convicts made a run for it and stashed away his uniform to keep his cover.
This article is part of our STRANGE THINGS FOUND DURING HOME RENOVATIONS blog series.