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On arriving at the main Sydney route from
the town boundary of MelbourneMelbourne
famous, among other things, ever since it rose
to fame two years ago, for no roads, or the
worst roads, or impassable sloughs, swamps
and rights of way through suburb wastes of
bush, and boulder stones, and stumps of trees
leaving, I say, all these peculiarities
behind, you suddenly arrive at the opening of
the main road to Sydney, leading in a direct
line to the village of Pentridge, the position
of the Convict Stockade. This is the chief
penal depôt of the colony.

The first thing that strikes you, after all
you have gone through, is the excellence of
the road, its directness, and its length. You
look along a straight road, broad, well-formed,
hard, clean, with drains running along each
side, protected (together with the lower edges
of the road) by large boulder-stones and
heavy logs at intervals, and the eye traverses
along this to an unvarying distance of two
miles and a quarter. There is no road to
be compared with it in the colony, and the
whole of this has been the product of convict
labour, within the space of little more than
two years and four or five months. Be it
understood very great difficulties had to
be overcome, in respect of swamps, huge
stones, and large trees, and stumps with great
roots. Nor was this the whole of the work
performed by the convicts of Pentridge, a
bridge and part of a road elsewhere having
been constructed simultaneously; the bridge
alone, if it had been built by free labour
during these periods of high wages, being of
the value of five thousand pounds. Whatever
the saving as to cost, however, the value of a
good road and a bridge to a new country like
this is almost beyond calculation. I forget
what practical philosopher it was who said,
"The worst use you can put a man to is to
hang him," but surely most people will readily
admit that such a road as the above, in any
country, and more especially in the colony of
Victoria, is not only far more useful, but a
far more humane and sightly object than the

The road to Pentridge gradually and
slightly rises till you reach the top, when a
turn to the right brings you at once upon the
ground of the Stockade, which lies in a
hollow a little below. A first impression does
not convey any adequate impression of its
strength, or general character as a penal
establishment. You see several detached
tents upon the higher ground, with a sentinel
walking to and fro in front of them; and you
look down upon a low-roofed, straggling
range of buildings, something in appearance
between an English country brewhouse, and
a military outpost holding it in charge.
Descending the slope, and reaching the house of
the superintendent, a square garden of
cabbages, and square beds of weeds mixed with
flowers and shrubs (a type of most of the
gardens since the discovery of the gold), is
seen on the other side of the horseway
between, with a green swampy field beyond,
bounded by a long iron-grey wall of large
loose stones, with a few trees to the right,
and the head of a sentinel moving backwards
and forwardsupon legs we assumein the
meadow or marsh below on the other side.

Being left alone for a while under the
wooden verandah of the house, the picture is
further enlivened by the slow approach of a
cow from a cow-house in the proximity of the
cabbage square, which pauses and looks at
me with a rueful and rather commiserating
expression. She is pretty comfortable
herself, but she sees that I am a new comer, and
wonders perhaps what I have done to be
brought there. The place is all very silent;
so is the cow; so of course am I. A dog now
comes round the corner, and after looking at
me, without barking or other demonstration,
retires. I follow mechanically, and on turning
the angle of the house I come in view of
what I had at first compared in my mind
to a country brewhouse, which on a closer
examination becomes formidable enough,
presenting as it does very unmistakeable
indications of strength, precaution, and watchful
vigilance, both within and without. No voice
is heard; nothing is heard but the clash of
the chains of a gang of convicts passing across
one of the yards.

The Superintendent, Mr. Barrow, who is
at the head of the penal establishments of
the colony, appears, and on my making some
allusion to the men in chains, gives me their
collective history in a few words, which show
that the said chains are by no means

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