Image, Triumphal arch, procession, flags and churches; cessation of transportation celebration in Launceston, by Sussan Fereday.

Tasmania v. British Empire: The battle to end convict transportation

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Governor Denison used whatever means he could find to keep the extent of anti-transportation sentiment from his British masters, and to keep a lid on events locally he resorted to fake news and character assassination of the movement’s charismatic leader, John West. Denison was also the instigator of mob violence designed to intimidate the anti-transportationists.

Despite the massive power imbalance, the battle to end transportation was finally won. And in the process, it set the scene for something even bigger – the coming together of the Australian colonies in a joint effort to stand tall in the world.

As author Alison Alexander explains, “Convict transportation as well as geography made Tasmania like no other colony, and its colonists’ battle against the British Empire is like no other story.” Drawing on array of official reports, letters, diaries, and newspapers, beautifully illustrated with contemporary drawings, paintings, and maps, and written in her typically fresh, engaging style, Alexander presents a riveting history of a transformative moment in Tasmania’s past and traces its legacy in popular social and environmental movements today.