All colonies are built on dreams – and imagination was the only real freedom enjoyed by convicts brutally transported to Australia in the early days of white settlement.
As David Levell brings to light in this engaging account of Australia’s convict years, escape myths were common currency in the young colony...
The first convicts from Ireland believed China was just a few days’ walk north of Sydney. Others were convinced a white civilisation existed nearby in the bush, or that Timor was a short distance overland. Many convicts fled in quest of such places, sure they would be offered sanctuary or a way home. Until this mythology swept through convict ranks, the bush made a very effective prison wall. But once the fantasy took hold, fear of the unknown gave way to a liberating – if tragically misplaced – faith in the vast wilderness surrounding the penal colony.
Tour To Hell shows how convict escape myths disrupted the colony and how the authorities struggled to suppress them. The first book-length account of a little-known aspect of Australian history, Tour To Hell combines riveting tales of escape, exploration and bushranging with a fascinating new look at Australia’s most reluctant first settlers coming to grips with the harsh and foreign landscape of their new home.