Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thieves in the Night...

Every trip has its glitch. No matter how much planning you do, things don't ever go perfectly according to plan. That has certainly been true of my life thus far. And my big trip has already hit a snag. The inn I was planning to stay at (gay-owned and allegedly haunted) is booked up for the duration of my stay in Sydney. I found an alternative option which will definitely be a unique experience and have no doubt everything will work out fine. I would have had it booked a month ago were it not for someone deciding not to send out a check I was depending on (and earned every penny of) to reserve the room. I'm quite familiar with highway robbery though so it comes as no big surprise.

Thievery of wages is most definitely a criminal act. How fitting that I'll soon be headed to what once was a convict settlement for England. Most people in the United States know that much about the founding of Australia. It was a great experiment, shipping off the unwanted "criminal class" from Britain to a new country created to be a prison for these people. But why did England feel the need to use such drastic measures in 1787 sending ships of undesireables―from murderers and robbers to the poor and prostitutes―to this place? The answer is simple: England had just lost its criminal dumping ground.

Somehow history books don't generally touch on the fact that before the American Revolution the colonies that would eventually become the United States of America were an unofficial Alcatraz used by England to rid itself of unwanted individuals. Across the Atlantic, they would be out of sight and out of mind. Even some of the earliest settlers in New England, those memorable English Protestants known as the Puritans, claimed to set out for "religious freedom" when in reality no country in Europe would tolerate them. Having been banned from so many places they had no option but to set out on a voyage to lands unknown where no one knew how wretched they really were.

Early America was a mix of entrepreneurs and scoundrels. But with independence from the Crown the 13 Colonies no longer would be England's own personal landfill for society's unwanted. Luckily other choices appeared. Forget Boston. They now had Botany Bay. And the First Fleet arrived there in 1788 only 5 short years after the end of the American Revolutionary War.

Now 222 years later, this is the place I'll be exploring. A lot has obviously changed since those days yet there are hints of history still to be found. Australians have come to terms with the past and even embrace their convict heritage finally. What was once dense wilderness inhabited by many different tribes of aborigines and a plethora of dangerous fauna is now the sprawling metropolis of Sydney, centered just north of the bay where those early Europeans ventured forth into the unknown. But there are still unique, strange, and hidden thing to be found in this nation. It may not read like a James Tucker novel (I should hope!) but with any luck I should makes some interesting discoveries of my own.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear about your trip! Hopefully you can still investigate the inn?

Ken Summers said...

I'm hoping I'll at least be able to talk to them and take some photos. But there are plenty of places to check out there so if I don't get to do that it's not a big deal. :)

Anonymous said...

I bet! & I look forward to the photos!