2006, 55 Minutes
Three women uncover the rags-to-respectability tale of their ancestors - the feisty convicts who became the unlikely founding mothers of modern Australia.
This is the rip-roaring tale of The Lady Juliana and the boatload of streetgirls, thieves and con-women who sailed to the ends of the earth to breathe life into a dying colony. In 1789, the fledgling British penal settlement in Sydney was crippled by disease, hunger and depravity. But help would come from a most unlikely quarter.
Welcome to the startling, shocking and stinking world of Georgian London! Meet Rachel Hoddy, the mischievous prostitute; little 11-year-old street urchin Mary Wade; Ann Marsh, convicted for stealing just a bushel of wheat, and last but never least, the doyenne of the London crime scene, Mrs Elizabeth Barnsley.
With more than 200 other women they are rounded up from England’s most notorious prisons and herded aboard the first all-female transport ship to be sent out to Australia. For the Lords of the British Empire they will serve not just as good breeding stock, but a sure way of keeping the male convicts from “gross irregularities”. As the ship criss-crosses the oceans for almost a year, at each port of call the women turn the boardwalks into catwalks and transform the ship into a floating brothel. They will do what it takes to survive the voyage and doing business is in their blood.
These are the canny, spirited, resilient women who - as their descendants discover - are able to turn their sense of enterprise into a passport to success in a harsh new world. Together, they would give the young colony hope, civilisation and something much more - the promise of a future.
A Film Australia/Essential Viewing Production. Produced in association with the NSW Film and Television Office and with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, New South Wales Film and Television Office.
Director: Mark Lewis
Running Time: 55 Minutes
Classification: M. Consumer advice: Moderate sexual references.
Curriculum Links: Australian History and early society at middle and upper secondary levels, English and Media.