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Dear America Wiki

"Last night, an hour or so after falling asleep, I dreamed that I was back in Newgate Prison. Sarah was not there to protect me. That Turnkey, that same greedy fat man who crushed the toes on my left foot when I told him that I had no money, was using his clamp on my other foot. All I could do was scream and scream..."
Elizabeth Harvey[2]

Surviving Sydney Cove: The Diary of Elizabeth Harvey is a historical fiction book by Goldie Alexander in the My Australian Story series. The book was first published in September 2000 by Scholastic Australia. It was republished by Scholastic UK as Transported in 2002 and Australia in 2010 for their My Story series.

The story follows Elizabeth Harvey, an innocent convict girl, who was transported from England to serve her sentence at Sydney Cove.


"For Rachael Warren

Book description[]

"Lizzie Harvey, a convict transported to Sydney Cove, is starving and overworked. She has to fetch the water, mend clothes, please her Master, care for his china-doll daughter and tiptoe around his moody soldier son. She can barely find time to dream about the way things used to be let alone write in her diary. But write she must. It is her only hope of reaching out to the home she has left behind, all those thousands of miles away across the sea."

""What if the Second Fleet never arrives? What if the ships have foundered in a storm like the Sirius? Or they have lost their way?" I was almost sorry I am still alive. Surely it would be easier and quicker to drown at sea than to slowly die of starvation.
Lizzie Harvey is a convict, sent to Sydney Cove with the First Fleet. Starving and overworked, she can barely find time to dream about the way things used to be, let alone write in her diary. But write she must, in the hope that she will one day be able to share her story with the family she has left behind.

"Wednesday, 19th May
I am writing everything down so that you, Edward, will know every place I have seen and how I presently live. Sydney Cove is grey and scrubby. It looks out into the harbour and across at the hills on the other side. Many of the convicts' huts have been built on rocks. They are so ramshackle, their foundations must cling like limpets or a strong wind will send them into the water. At night, our candles and oil lamps attract moths as big as birds and monstrous black beetles. There are also dozens of possums and large furry bats. My master says that because no one farms or owns this land, all animals are free to roam wherever they might wish.

"It's 1790. Two years earlier Lizzie was sentenced to transportation to Australia, just for being accused of stealing a dress. Now she's struggling to survive in Sydney Cove. The penal colony is desperately in need of supplies from England, but when will they arrive? Have they been abandoned on the other side of the world...?"


Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey is a thirteen-year-old convict girl living in the Rose Hill area of Sydney, Australia. Four years previously, Lizzie was falsely accused of stealing a dress and imprisoned at Newgate Prison, where she met her "protector" Sarah Burke. They spent many months in prison hulks, before being transported to Sydney Cove. There Sarah and Lizzie were able to find work as housekeepers for Henry Dodd.

Winston Russell, a marine, visits Master Dodd's hut. Lizzie trades two onions for his journal, which she uses to write to her younger brother, Edward, whom is in England. A few weeks later, Lizzie rescues a young girl named Emily from Simple Sam, though he meant her no harm. Emily's and Winston's father, Surgeon James Russell release Lizzie from her service to Master Dodd to have her work as Emily's caretaker. Lizzie is sad to leave Sarah, who has become like a mother to her.

Two weeks later, Lizzie and the Russell family move to Sydney Cove. Lizzie is even sadder to now be further away from Sarah, but is also excited to be away from Rose Hill for the first time in almost two years. On the way there, they meet several travelers, including Lieutenant William Collins, Abel Flush, and Margaret Stewart. Meanwhile, Lizzie continues to tell the story of her life to the Russells and the "prickly" Winston finally begins to warm up to her.

In Sydney Cove, Lizzie spends everyday with Emily, teaching and taking care of her. In late May, an angry mob approaches Simple Sam, who was banished earlier from Rose Hill. Lizzie and Winston hide him, but the mob finds and hangs him despite the accusation being false. Emily becomes ill and dies a few days later, devastating her family and Lizzie. Her father and Winston are told to board the next ship to England. Before leaving, Winston promises to deliver Lizzie's journal to her brother.

Historical Note[]

The Historical Note discusses poverty in the British Isles and the harsh treatment people faced in prison. In 1788, the First Fleet arrived in Australia with its first group of prisoners. The continent was already inhabited by Aborigines. Australia's first colony was set up in Port Jackson. The convicts struggled with farming, building, and finding food. A new settlement, Rose Hill, was founded where the land was more fertile. In 1790, the Second Fleet arrived. Despite these years being called the "years of famine," historian suggest that the convicts were better off in some ways. Many of them were able to leave their pasts behind and eventually become prosperous in the new land.

The British edition of the book, retitled Transported, includes a timeline of events. It begins in 1606, which was the earliest recorded European contact with the Aborigines. Several key events of the colonization of Australia are listed as well as indirectly linked events, such as the United States of America declaring its independence. The section ends with 1807, when the slave trade was abolished in the British Empire. A select number of photos and a map follows.


Main article: List of Surviving Sydney Cove characters
  • Elizabeth "Lizzie" Harvey, a young girl, who was accused of stealing a dress and transported to Sydney Cove. She misses her younger brother and struggles with the harsh conditions of Australia.
  • Sarah Burke, Elizabeth's friend and fellow convict. They met in prison and stayed together for two years in Rose Hill. She treats Lizzie as if she were her own daughter.


Main article: Goldie Alexander

Goldie Alexander was an Australian author whom wrote over eighty fiction and nonfiction books for children, young adults, and adults. Surviving Sydney Cove is the only book she penned for the My Australian Story series. Alexander based Elizabeth partly on Elizabeth Hayward, the youngest female convict brought to Botany Bay. Through her research, she was surprised that "[she] knew very little about [Australia's] first European settlers." Alexander was not able to use all of her research since the topics would not have been suitable for younger readers.[3]



  • The portrait on the cover of the first United Kingdom edition is a detail from the painting The Water Girl by Charles Victor Thirion. The background is a detail from Thomas Watling's 1794 painting View of Sydney Cove.[10][11][12]
  • The cover of the third Australian edition and the second United Kingdom edition was illustrated by Richard Jones.


See also[]

File:Surviving Sydney Cove Teachers' Notes.pdf

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