Mary Bryant was a convict who arrived in Sydney Cove with the First Fleet in 1788. She married a convict called William Bryant who was an experienced fisherman and sailor. William and Mary Bryant made plans to escape in the Governor's personal cutter and stole out of Sydney Harbour in the six oar rowboat on the 28th March 1791. Aboard were eight convicts and two children. They headed north and it is thought that they stopped at Glenrock Lagoon near Newcastle. They had to stop frequently to look for water and food.
They managed to survive being blown out to sea twice and they navigated in the cutter through the dangerous reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strai. In a storm off the Queensland coast James Martin said that in the morning they saw no land and that the waves were as high as mountains. They thought that every moment would be their last with the waves crashing over the sides and two hands bailing continuously. It had rained all night and they were very distressed with everything very wet and they could not light any fire. They had nothing to eat except a little raw rice.
After ten weeks at sea they reached Timor and were arrested and sent back to England to stand trial. The journey was remarkable because it had been years since Captain Cook had taken the same route and they were the second group of Europeans to sail this route. They were certainly accidental and courageous explorers.
Mary Bryant Resources