Bernie Matthews was a ‘serial escapee’ - the thought of incarceration too much to bear. Yet every time he escaped (6 in all), his sentence (for armed robbery) was extended, and the punishment made more severe. Until he escaped through the pen.
Bernie likens himself to the convict George Howe – one of the thousands of criminals transported to New South Wales between 1819 and 1848. ‘Happy George’, with no formal eduction became the first editor of The Sydney Gazette.
But these two men are the exceptions of their times. The life of a convict in early C19 Australia was gruelling and desperate, as it is for those incarcerated today. Punishment for Escaping included solitary confinement and being sent to the harshest of prison environments –Van Diemen’s land then and the Super max prisons now. Yet some still managed to get away…
The Convict Streak was produced by Roz Bluett of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as part of the 2008 international documentary collaboration, Global Perspectives: Escape!
The Convict Streak was produced by Ros Bluett of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It airs as part of the special international documentary collaboration, Global Perspectives: Escape!
From Jail to Journalism
The "Convict Streak's" Bernie Matthews eventually got out of prison, and continued with his love of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Southern Queensland.
The Girl from Botany Bay
by: Carolly Erickson 2004
A vivid tale of a young mother who escaped an Australian prison with her family and other convicts to evade punish and become a celebrity in England.