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12 Crazy Facts About Norfolk Island, Australia's Most Notorious Prison Colony

Updated 2 Jan 2020 54.2k views12 items

When the British government began sending their criminals to Australia in the 18th century, one location became a byword for unchecked harshness. The history of Norfolk Island, much like other penal colonies, is a particularly cruel chapter in the Australian penal system's story.

Some historians claim Norfolk Island was a colony for "doubly convicted" men, but there is credible evidence that many of the prisoners were first-time offenders, and the majority were imprisoned for nonviolent offenses. Yet a series of antagonistic overseers made the island infamous. These behaviors continued for almost 30 years, culminating in the career of John Giles Price, possibly one of the most savage characters in Australian history.

After Price, the colony continued for a few years until the British government abandoned it in 1855. Although some accounts of Norfolk Island have been exaggerated, according to Tim Causer, a historian at University College London, life at the colony was undoubtedly difficult.

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