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'The majestic beauty of Van Diemen's Land as well as its tendency to foster grotesque violence is effectively captured in this narrative of notorious convict Alexander Pearce.' Sydney Morning HeraldFor the convicts transported from their homeland, Van Diemen's Land was a feared and dreaded penal settlement at the end of the earth. The worst prisoners were sent to the isolated Sarah Island, accessed through a treacherous channel that the convicts named 'Hell's Gates', a reference to the gates of hell in Dante's Inferno: 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here'.In 1822, eight convicts escaped in a fateful bid for freedom. This band of escapees with little food or equipment, in a place these immigrants knew little about, battled a merciless enemy - an unforgiving, hostile land - that led to starvation and, ultimately, cannibalism. In Hell's Gates,Paul Collins has fashioned an utterly riveting narrative of physical hardship and pathological behaviour. He contrasts our contemporary view of Tasmania's untamed and beautiful wilderness with the hell on earth the convicts encountered. Vividly constructed, here is a tale of violence, escape and murder, rendered with a keen eye for the follies of human nature.Paul Collins is a historian, writer and broadcaster.The subject of the Australian feature film Van Dieman's Land, directed by Jonathan auf der Heide and available on DVD and digital from Madman.Winner: 2009 Best non-European Feature, Lund Fantastic Film Festival and Special Mention - Noves Visions, Sitges Film FestivalOfficial Selection: 2009 Montreal World Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest Austin Texas
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Having visited Tasmania on two occasions to hike the wilderness and learn about the history of such…
Hell's Gates in Strahan is an intimidating sight. The Gates signal the entrance to one of Australia's most dangerous harbours - the Macquarie Harbour in Strahan on the rugged and wild west coast of Tasmania.