Sentenced to Down Under
For your crimes, you are hereby sentenced to hard labor in Australia!
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(permanent link) added: 2013-05-16 18:08:29 sponsor: ryanasaurus0077 (last reply: 2013-06-19 08:51:59)

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When the British colonized a South Pacific continent called Australia in the 18th century, they established it as a dumping ground for their trash -- thieves, arsonists, grave robbers, traitors, debtors, and God knows what other lowlifes. Men, women, and children of all ages found out the hard way that it was very easy to score a one-way ticket beyond the seas, as the prisons were becoming overcrowded and the streets were full of criminals. This trope is for instances of this special punishment. More often than not, this comes up in period pieces, due to this practice ending in the Victorian era.

Sub-Trope of Penal Colony. Compare Trading Bars for Stripes, where the prisoner is put into the military instead, and Reassigned to Antarctica, when it's not a prison sentence but the effect is the same.

Examples

Film

  • In a rare American occurrence, a scene in Django Unchained has Stephen summarily sentence Django to servitude in an Australian mining company, where he'll be worked literally to death and then buried in a mass grave, just for shooting up his recently deceased master's plantation. Unfortunately, these particular Australians are more gullible than Stephen had anticipated, and Django deals with them before returning to the plantation to pick up where he had left off during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Zu neun Ufern (a.k.a. To New Shores and To a Distant Shore) is a 1937 German film about a singer in Victorian London who takes the blame for her aristocratic lover's forging of cheques and who is sentenced to be transported to Australia. It is largely a propoganda piece designed to attack the British aristocracy.

Literature

  • This is the Artful Dodger's final fate in Oliver Twist.
  • Happens to Magwich in Great Expectations.
  • This seems to be a common stock fate for characters in the novels of Charles Dickens; in fact, it almost happens to Kit in The Old Curiosity Shop thanks to the machinations of Mr. Qulip, but Dick Swiveller manages to prove his innocence in the nick of time.
  • In the Temeraire series, Laurence and Temeraire get booted to Australia at the end of the fifth book. Not bad, considering that they started that book under death and breeding-ground sentences respectively for treason.
  • The Dinotopia novel Windchaser starts with the wreck of a prison ship heading to Australia. One main character was a prisoner from the ship and one was the son of the ship's doctor.
  • For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke (originally serialised between 1870 and 1872) is a classic Australian novel on the subject. The story follows the fortunes of Rufus Dawes, a young man transported for a murder that he did not commit. The book clearly conveys the harsh and inhumane treatment meted out to the convicts, some of whom were transported for relatively minor crimes, and graphically describes the conditions the convicts experienced.
  • This practice was referenced during a Bat Deduction by Vizzini in The Princess Bride and its film adaptation, who mentions that Australia is entirely populated by criminals.

Live-Action TV

  • On The Young Ones, one bit scene featured two convicts on a ship bound for Australia. While one was irate about his sentence, the other was rather pleased to go where his son and daughter-in-law had been sent years earlier.
  • In the original Star Trek, Khan's ship was the SS Botany Bay, specifically as an allusion to this.

Music

  • U2's song "Van Diemen's Land" (after the original name for Tasmania) is about the Irish freedom fighters who were transported. It's specifically dedicated to the poet John Boyle O'Reilly, who was deported to Western Australia in 1868 for rebel activities as a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
  • "Botany Bay" is all about this trope. Final verse:
    Now all my young Dookies and Dutchesses
    Take warning from what I've to say
    Mind all is your own as you toucheses
    Or you'll find us in Botany Bay
  • The '70s Irish song "The Fields of Athenry" is about a young man being sent to Australia.

Theatre

  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, this happened to Benjamin Barker, the man who would become Sweeney, who was transported for life fifteen years ago because the corrupt Judge Turpin wanted his wife Lucy for himself.
  • The play Our Country's Good is about a bunch of people sentenced to Australia.

Real Life

  • During the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th, this was very much Truth in Television.
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