Secrets of the Dead

Voyage Of The Courtesans

Season 5, Episode 3 of 5

In 1789, more than 200 female thieves, prostitutes and con artists, rounded up from London's most notorious prisons, were shipped off to an Australian penal colony aboard a leaky vessel named the Lady Juliana. Once aboard, the wily women turned their banishment into opportunity, transforming their ship into a rowdy floating brothel. By the time they reached Botany Bay, they were fit, healthy and some were even self-supporting. Instead of a life of servitude, they took control and -- along with their offspring -- helped guarantee a new world's future. With dramatic reconstructions, powerful imagery and actual ship journals, this program brings to light the true story of the Lady Juliana. Through intensive research and the use of long-hidden historical records, the film also tracks down the women's contemporary descendants and watches as they uncover the surprising truth about their ancestors.

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