When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Maitland Gaol and the Convict Road

The British shipped about 180,000 convicts to Australia in the beginning. After that ended and it became a place for regular people, and convicts who had served their sentences, to live. But not all the citizens behaved themselves just like any other society. This prison was built in the early 1800’s and served until the late 1970’s. The front door, from the inside, is to the left.




The cells are in four different buildings, built at three different times. To the left is a double tiered high security building but not the highest. It is the one story building on the right. This is the outside where each cell has a mini courtyard completely covered with concrete walls and barred top and end. The courtyard is about 2 by 4 meters (6 by 13 feet) and the prisoner got to use it for 2 hours a day. These guys were not to be allowed into the general courtyard enjoyed by the main group of convicts.

A large yard with grass was used by the general group.




The prison is broken up into various areas with fencing and razor wire separating them. The gray building to the center, with the one-story front, is the oldest block of cells and is three tiers high.

We had audio players that told us the history and purpose of the places as we followed the route through the prison at our own speed.




After a couple of hours there we got our release by returning the audio players and headed south again. Our route to the Great Northern Road, built by convict labor between 1826 and 1836, was along a popular motorcycle road. The sharper corners had signs with a motorcycle and the words “Reduce Speed”. Then we saw this sign telling them how to ride around a corner. We’ve never seen an instructional sign for motorcyclists anywhere else.




The actual Great Northern Road was built to enable settlers to expand to the Hunter Valley. Today there are better and faster ways to get there. The Hunter Valley is best known now for its wineries.






Most of the road has been lost to more modern alignments. This piece of stonework (in front of the sign) is all that is left from a pair of parallel walls that were built with the space between filled with dirt to build the road up.

We have seen lots of signs warning of animals in the area but this is the first with all three of the commonest animals. From the top down, Koala, Kangaroo and Wombat.

At one point the road actually ran in under the hillside. The top of the hill leaned out over about half of the road, our half as we drive on the left here.

We wound our way down the hills to a ferry at the bottom. Crossing was free and we followed a small white car on board. This car had passed us in a cloud of dust and gravel in a section really too narrow for passing about 20 minutes earlier. He was in such a hurry he nearly sideswiped us in getting around. Maybe he was trying for an earlier ferry but he missed it and had to wait anyway.

Across the river we are in the Sydney metropolitan area. The houses are getting denser as we head east to our campground. We have are staying at a national park about 10 k (6 miles) from downtown Sydney.