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July 25 , 2008

Closing Hell's Gates

The death of a convict station


In October 1827, nine convicts who had endured years of unimaginable cruelty at the hands of the system opted for 'state-assisted' escape. Five terrified witnesses - their hands and feet bound - were forced to watch as the chained convicts seized Constable George Rex and drowned him in the tannin-stained waters of the harbour. When the sentence of death was pronounced upon them, the condemned prisoners uttered just one word in reply: Amen.
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Based on detailed accounts from the time, Closing Hell's Gates contains dozens of personal stories of the harsh and unforgiving life that people were forced to lead, both as convict and overseer, and in so doing reveals some startling insights about human nature when it is pushed to extremes.
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