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Convicts

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Government House Perth - Courtesy Battye Library.

Western Australia became a penal colony in 1850 with the arrival of the first 75 convicts from the Portland Gaol at the request of the Western Australian Colonial Administration. The Western Australian economy did not develop as quickly as the colonists had wished and they thought that convicts could stimulate the economy by building roads and other public works.

The following year 803 convicts were transported to our shores, as well as 268 free persons. Within the next 10 years, the number of free immigrants grew to a total of 3000 people, while the number of convicts rose to 9500. With good behaviour, convicts could receive a ticket of leave. Further good behaviour could earn them a conditional pardon, the condition being that the recipient could not return to Britain.

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Perth Town Hall - Courtesy City of Perth.

The influence of the convicts on WA's landscape can be seen in such buildings as Government House, the Perth Town Hall, the Supreme Court building, and the old Fremantle mental asylum, now the Fremantle Arts Centre.

Convict labour ceased in 1868. By the end of 1890, WA's population had grown to 48,502.

175th TRIVIA

Government House was built by convicts and completed in 1863.

Convicts