Copyright Grey Gypsies Australia 2009
The islands history closely follows that of the rest of Tasmania. Charted  first by the French explorer Nicholas Baudin in 1802 on his epic journey of scientific studies down the Tasmanian east coast and later used by whalers, the island was first drawn into the prison system by Governor Arthur. From 1825 to 1832 it replaced the notorious Macquarie Island as a penal station for convicts who had been convicted of additional crimes or rebellion since arriving in the colony. It was then closed down and its prison population sent to the newly built Port Arthur. It was reopened from 1842 to 1850 as a Probation Station to house male convicts who had to serve up to two years probation on good behaviour before being eligible for parole. The probation system replaced the previous assignment system of prisoners, who were formerly assigned as workers to free settlers on arrival in Tasmania. After 1842 all convicts had to serve at least two years probation in a prison settlement before being eligible to be paroled to seek work.  Most remaining convict buildings on the island relate to this latter period, the commissariat store, the barracks, the cook house and the foundations of the barracks for newly arrived prisoners. After the convict era it was again decommissioned , but in 1884 an entrepreneur Diego Bernachii saw a use for the buildings as a holiday resort and built himself a substantial house [still standing], intending to plant grape vines and farm the island as well. His plans didn’t attract public support and financially his venture was a failure.
Maria Island
Grey Gypsies of Australia Tasmania
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