Some of the first settlements in Port Phillip were manned by convicts, but harsh conditions and lack of resources saw many escape – and then return when they realised there was nowhere else to go.

Although Victoria's first settlers may have thought of Port Phillip as a free colony, convicts worked for land-owners and later prison 'hulk' ships housed a growing criminal population. Read on to discover why Victoria's convict heritage is a secret history...

Nicholas Pateshall's record of his experiences in Port Phillip provides a rare insight into convict life.
The first settlement at Sullivan Bay wasn't a success, with convicts and settlers alike struggling to stay alive.
Escaping from a convict settlement was William Buckley's first step towards becoming the ‘Wild White Man'.
A chance encounter led William Buckley to a new life in an Aboriginal community.
After 32 years living in an Aboriginal community, William Buckley found himself stranded between two cultures.
William Buckley's mysterious life has long been an inspiration for writers and historians alike.
The second attempt at convict settlement in Port Phillip Bay brought to light an embarrassing blunder by previous explorers.
In the 1840s, a new take on penal transportation gave small-time criminals the chance to change.
In Victoria's early days of penal reform, the vilest criminals faced the most fearsome punishment – the prison hulk.