Yesterday, on a very hot Sydney day, I was interviewed by Dennis Gastmann for the German documentary series “With 80,000 Questions Around the World". In this show, the reporter travels to foreign countries to learn about their history, culture and tradition.
Dennis and his camera man, Thomas Hipp, are in Australia for one week and are scheduled to conduct four feature interviews for a program on Australia Day.
I was was questioned on issues such as:
- Do Australians regard themselves as a Convict nation? This is apparently a common perception in Germany.
- What is the significance of Australia Day, which many Aborigines refer to as Invasion Day.
- My own convict ancestry and what it is like for an Australian to discover they have a convict ancestor.
A search of the History Services NSW Convict Database found that 21 convicts were native of Germany. An interesting German convict was George Bennet alias Isaac Davis, who arrived in Sydney on the convict ship Waterloo on 12 June 1837. George was aged 55 years when he arrived and was a native of Brenham, Germany. He had been previously transported to the Colony on the convict ship Guildford in 1824 and had escaped during June 1835. In 1844 he was before the Hyde Park Barracks Bench of Magistrates for making a false statement. At this time it was discovered that he had not received any additional punishment for previously absconding from the Colony. For punishment, the Bench of Magistrates recommended that he serve two years on Cockatoo Island as punishment. He eventually received his Ticket of Leave for the Parramatta district in November 1847, which was later altered to Sydney district, so long as he remained employed by Mr. Isaac Norris of Pitt Street.