Rose Cullen reveals the amazing story of the Success, one of the most elaborate tourism enterprises in colonial Australia.
An old prison hulk from Melbourne, the Success was transformed into a floating museum of convict Australia. Its lurid displays of wax figures and convict manacles attracted large crowds in Australian ports in the early 1890s, before touring Britain and North America.
A visit to the ship appealed to our lingering curiosity about the convict origins of the Australian colonies. The exhibition was promoted as a true object lesson, however historical accuracy fell victim to showmanship and visitors were sold an increasingly sensational version of Australia’s past.