Thursday, March 08, 2007

Australia: A bit of history

I had previously heard that Australia started off as a penal colony, but didn't know any of the details. Well, today, got the full scoop. I did this by perusing the Hyde Parks Barracks Museum.

The museum, as the name suggests, is housed in a barracks that used to be the residence for convicts way back when. In fact, the relatively small building held at least 600 convicts, and perhaps lots more. They have recreate the sleeping conditions upstairs by hanging hammocs up again. They even let you kick back and imagine what the prisonors must have felt like. Kinda spooky stuff.

So, yes, it's true - Australia started off as a penal colony. And here's the thing - while some of the convicts were really bad people, there were lots of criminals who did nothing more than steal a sheep or have a forged 1 pound note. Of course, at the time, these crimes could have gotten you the death penalty, so being sent off to Australia wasn't all that bad.

The museum lists a bunch of the convicts names and crimes. I had to feel at least a little bad for the guy who was sandwiched between the follow who had commited manslaughter and the guy who was in for house robbery. I feel bad, because his crime was "stealing a cap." Man that's tough justice. And yet, with all that tough love, I doubt the crime rate went down (though I don't know this for a fact). Can we learn anything from this?

After the museum Shira and I made a bit of a cullinary discovery: a vegetarian Thai restaruant. We were both pleased by this find. The food was OK (I'm not sure our choices were great ones), and I was just glad to be able to order veggie sausage.

Finally, here's the obligatory picture of us at the harbor, in the sunshine. Yes, it's another gorgeous day here.

Man I could get used to this vacation thing...

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