Sarah Luke – Like a Wicked Noah’s Ark
4 December 2020 starting 6:30 pm
Step back in time to 1860s Sydney – when ragged children populated the harbour city’s slums, picking pockets and scraping a living selling matches and watercress. Such neglected youths formed the city’s gangs, thieving and assaulting those unwise enough to travel about without company. These ‘larrikins’ often ended up in gaol, and received a thorough criminal education while they were there from Fagin-esque professors of the art.
In 1867 a solution to this problem was formed. Fitted up for the reception of New South Wales’ delinquent and abandoned boys, a Nautical School Ship was moored permanently within sight of Circular Quay on Sydney Harbour. The Colony’s prisons were drained of their young inmates, and they were herded together in their dozens – and later, hundreds – on board.
Like a Wicked Noah’s Ark is the full and close-up history of this ground-breaking experiment in juvenile reformation, which operated continuously until 1911 on the Vernon and Sobraon.