190-In the Footsteps of the Cannibal Convict

Show notes

In 1820 Irish thief, Alexander Pearce, was sent to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) to serve a seven year sentence for stealing shoes and if the story ended here, it wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy, but rather than just one of many similar stories. Where is becomes interesting is in 1822 when Pearce and seven other convicts escaped from their penal colony in western Tasmania and made their way eastwards  across some of the most rugged and inhospitable terrain in Tasmania in a break for freedom. Starvation pressed the party into a series of grim decisions including cannibalism with Pearce being the sole survivor of the group.

In 2008, 6 hikers recreated this walk, covering 170km in 23 days on an amazing journey. This trip from Coal Head in Macquarie Harbour to Ouse, closely retraced the 1822 footsteps of Alexander Pearce across what is now the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. In today’s episode we catch up with one of those hikers, Paul Le Fevre, to find out about this unique journey and why he and his friends chose to undertake this trip. This really is a choose your own adventure. See the images and photos below to get the best from this podcast episode.

Podcast Overview

  • Podcast Introduction
    • Episode Introduction (time index 0:00:32)
    • Interview with Paul Le Fevre (time index 0:02:52)
  • Gill and Tim final discussion (time index 0:44:24)

Close (time index 0:57:18)

Elevation Profile of this amazing trip. Have a close look at the ascent out of the Franklin River; this was the day they they only covered 1.1km

Paul Lefevre

The group on the 2008 re-creation of Alexanders Pearce’s 1822 escape – Jason, Paul, Maureen, Cynthia, Su, and Simon

Trip Map

An example of the dense bush that you are walking through

Bush bashing

Paul and Simon looking to ridges on Mount Sorrell

Jason, Paul, Su, Cythia on the final ascent of Mount Sorrell

Mount Darwin and Mount Sorell in the Background


If you want to find out more on this trip had the 2009 Australian Geographic article

Song about the 1822 Alexander Pearce Escape by Weddings Parties Anything

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