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Sarah Island

There are few signs that once this lonely isle
Was home to men of Empire and their slaves.
Just scattered bricks, worked stone, and shards of tile,
Remind us of when England ruled the waves.
But no doubt close at hand forgotten graves
Hold bones of some of those who trod this ground —
The convicts of The Crown, and other knaves,
Who for Macquarie Harbour once were bound;
And where they’d surely hear the dreaded sound
Of the “Macquarie Cat” — that fiendish whip.
Those men who died in chains and those who drowned,
Were payments made for every well-built ship.
“Hell’s Gates” the convicts called the harbour’s mouth —
Beyond it lay the Hades of the South.

— D.N.O’Brien

Sarah Island