The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and Convict Footprints Productions have joined forces to present Convict Footprints on Cockatoo Island, a rollicking 90-minute “living history” adventure through one of Australia’s most extreme and brutal 19th-century penal establishments.
For two weekends only, you can travel back in time to 1852 and join Charles Cowper, parliamentarian and leading advocate for the abolition of transportation to NSW, on his fact-finding investigation of Cockatoo Island’s prison.
Watch Cowper engage in heated debates with the island’s volatile prison superintendent Charles Ormsby and discuss the ongoing struggle to build Sydney’s much-needed dry dock with engineer Gother Kerr Mann. Hear about the highs and lows of island life from soldiers and convicts alike and come face-to-face with the harsh reality of Cockatoo Island’s convict prison.
See prisoners hauled out of the infamous solitary confinement cells, be appalled by the living conditions in the stifling and overcrowded barracks and watch a bone-crunching, bare-knuckle fight in the prison courtyard between the famous convict prize-fighters John Perry and Patrick Sinclair.
“This Convict Footprints production is about as close as you’re going to get to what life might have been like in Cockatoo Island’s notorious convict prison”, said Eliza Beashel, the Harbour Trust’s Director of Marketing, Communications and Visitor Experience.
“World Heritage-listed Cockatoo Island is one of Australia’s most important convict sites. By shining a new light on its remarkable history, Convict Footprints on Cockatoo Island will let people discover the island’s convict past in an innovative and engaging way,” Beashel said.
“We like to tell the real stories about Australia’s convict heritage through live theatre,” said Jerry Retford, the director of Convict Footprints on Cockatoo Island. “In a sense, everyone was a prisoner at Cockatoo Island, regardless of whether they were gentlemen, officers, guards or convicts. They were so close to Sydney yet they were virtually marooned on this isolated rocky outcrop in the middle of the Harbour.
When: Saturday 18 -Sunday 19 February and Saturday 25-Sunday 26 February at 10.00am, 1.30pm and 5.00pm.
Find out more Convict Footprints on Cockatoo Island.