Place:Deloraine Probation Station, Tasmania, Australia


NameDeloraine Probation Station
Located inTasmania, Australia

The probation system was introduced by Governor Franklin in 1839. From mid-1839 onwards all male convicts who arrived in Van Diemen's Land had to perform a period of probationary labour in work gangs. Having served their probation, convicts were transferred to hiring depots where they could be rented out to private individuals in return for a wageregulated by government. "Newly arrived convicts were supposed to labour in the third-class gang until they earned promotion to less demanding work through good behaviour. The period of probationary labour to be served was fixed at 18-24 months for those sentenced to 10 to 14 years transportation. "The principle of the scheme of convict discipline,was "that of a very formidable punishment at the commencement, gradually relaxing in severity with the lapse of time; each successive mitigation being expedited by good conduct, or retarded by ill behaviour." Convict Dept Oct 1843 An important aspect of the system was the separation of the convicts into classes. They were to be set to work at different tasks and accommodated, fed and mustered out in different yards which at Deloraine were separated by a high wooden palisade. Communication between the various classes was strictly forbidden. The station at Deloraine was constructed to assist in the opening up of the country between Westbury and Circular Head. Local settlers lobbied the government for the establishment of the station abd labour to complete the road linking the frontier settlement with Westbury, Longford, Perth and Launceston and the station was largely paid for by private interests.

By June 1845 it consisted of one superintendent, three assistant superintendents, a medical officer and dispenser, a protestant religious instructor, three overseers, and a storekeeper, plus 304 convicts. The 304 convicts were divided between three probationary classes. Each class was further subdivided into messes of ten men headed by a mess captain. The buildings at Deloraine probation station were described in the 1847 La Trobe Report as 'bad' with the exception of the Superintendent's residence.

Source: Mutiny at Deloraine: Ganging and Convict Resistance by Tom Dunning and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart Labour History Publiched by the Australlian society for the study of labour history May 2002 (Vol 82)