Saturday, September 21, 2013

The ‘Success’ – From Prison Hulk to Exhibition Ship

Rose Cullen reveals the amazing story of the Success, one of the most elaborate tourism enterprises in colonial Australia. FREE & Open to the Public
SMSA (Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts)
280 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
02 9262 7300 | 

An old prison hulk from Melbourne, the Success was transformed into a floating museum of convict Australia. Its lurid displays of wax figures and convict manacles attracted large crowds in Australian ports in the early 1890s, before touring Britain and North America.

A visit to the ship appealed to our lingering curiosity about the convict origins of the Australian colonies. The exhibition was promoted as a true object lesson, however historical accuracy fell victim to showmanship and visitors were sold an increasingly sensational version of Australia’s past.