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Tocal's convicts 1822-1840

Rough and ready

On large estates such as Tocal the convicts lived in huts, with four to eight men in each hut. Usually the huts had wooden slab walls with a roof of bark, thatch or wooden shingles. Here's how a convict described the huts:

'Were a person unacquainted with the country to stand at a little distance from a farm and see as I have from 20 to 30 of these huts stuck round it, he could I think hardly be persuaded without ocular evidence that they were the abode of human beings who had their origin in a civilised country. Many cowsheds and pigsties that I have seen in England... are palaces compared with these huts.'

[Written by Joseph Mason, an assigned convict between 1831 and 1837].

There was a fireplace at one end of the hut and the men cooked for themselves. Furniture was rough and ready. Often convict beds consisted of sheets of bark on a rough timber frame, with a mattress of stuffed straw.

Tocal's convict huts were near the present brick convict barracks. The barracks were built about 1836 to replace the timber huts lost in a fire the previous year.

The layout of Tocal in 1834 is shown on the next screen, and Webber's 1830 stone barn is the only building from that time you can still see today.

Below: Tocal's convict barracks built around 1836. Note the wooden slab hut at left which was used as a kitchen. It is on the approximate site of the original convict huts and is possibly one of these modified for use as a kitchen.

Photo of Tocal's convict barracks