Trying to Sort Fact From Fiction in Sarah Island, Tasmania
Once the forced abode of cannibal convicts and wayward women, Sarah Island is now part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area welcoming visitors, minus the ball and chain, to its sunny shores. The island's brutal history inspired Richard Flanagan to set his novel, Gould's Book of Fish, in the location described by the governor of the day as “a place of banishment and security for the worst description of convicts” at the “gates of hell” (Macquarie Harbour). Flanagan includes historical identities, such as the bushranger Matthew Brady, in a cast of bizarre characters that inhabit the island. A walking tour of Sarah Island may just convince you that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.