Many convicts who committed another offence where sent to build roads in remote areas. Instead of being allowed to just languish in gaol, they were assigned to Iron gangs and worked in leg-irons. Leg-irons consisted of an iron collar placed around each ankle, joined together by a length of chain. These leg-irons could weigh up to 6 kilos and could only be applied and removed by a Blacksmith. After completing a sentence in an iron Gang men were often transferred to a Road Party, where they undertook the same work but without having to wear the leg-irons.
An example of this can be found in the Maitland Mercury: 17 October 1846
George Holwell was found guilty of stealing a mare, the property of Richard Webb, at Pennant Hills, on the 1st of April ; and was sentenced to be worked in irons for three years.-Robert Jones, previously convicted of sheep stealing, was sentenced to be worked in irons for twelve months.-