30th November – Penitentiary Chapel

Whether is due to the cold and rain, or just depression at saying goodbye to my fellow tour mates, I wake up feeling pretty miserable and sick.  Don’t really want to do anything, but manage to struggle on through and visit at least one thing in Hobart today.  Since I don’t think I’ll make the evening ghost tour that caught my eye, I go for the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site about 20 minutes from my hostel.

This was originally the site of Hobart’s prison, but most of the buildings have been torn down to make way for new developments.  The Chapel however, still stands, and there are various tours that run throughout the week to tell its story.  There is also a small performance in the afternoon regarding Mary McLauchlan, the first woman hung in Van Diemens land.  This is what I managed to arrive in time to see.

Set in two different court rooms in the building, the ‘Live History’ actors of Hobart act out the story of Mary, who pleaded guilty to the theft that her husband committed, and was sent to Van Diemens land as punishment.  While working as a servant, she was raped by her boss before being sent back to the prison, where she gave birth.  No one is certain what happened, but the baby died shortly after birth and was found in the woman’s bathroom.  Despite there being very little evidence, Mary’s inability to defend herself resulted in her being sentenced to hang – a very cruel and unusual punishment considering that nearly every other ‘infant death’, even those with stronger evidence, never received hanging.  It’s a pretty interesting story, put together from court records, and its clear the actors are really interested in the people they’re portraying.

On the way back, I’m feeling woozy enough to stop by McDonalds and grab a meal.  Macca’s always tastes best when you feel awful.  While in there, I run into our tour guide, whose stopping there on his day off too – almost didn’t recognise him, but my hair is hard to hide ^_^

I would have liked to make it up to the chapel for the ghost tour, but I’m feeling even worse as the day goes on, so end up hiding out in the TV room most of the afternoon before crashing early.

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About Batale

I am an aspiring writer - though since I haven't written anything original in about 2 years, so calling me a writer is like calling a man who makes dinner every night a 5 star chef. I started this blog to force me to write. From the 1st January 2013, I intend to update this blog every day. If nothing interesting happens, I'll write about something that does interest me, whether that is a movie, a book, something I've heard about, or even some of my stories growing up.
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