Convicts and Colonials in NSW | Summer School in Blue Mountains
The course focuses on the early years of white settlement in NSW. The subject is vast and, obviously, impossible to cover in just one week. This course will, however, serve to whet the appetite for further study, and will also provide the opportunity for an interest filled week in pleasant surroundings with congenial company.
- 1. Visit Elizabeth Farm near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.
- 2. Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.
- 3. Wander through what remains of Hartley Historic Village, just west of the mountains, with its 17 buildings of historic interest.
- 4. Find out just why wagon loads of young Irish girls took the long journey to Bathurst.
|21 January 2024 |
Ends 27 January 2024 • 7 days
Convicts and Colonials in NSW
In 2021 Odyssey is offering a week long course on the early years of white settlement in NSW at our Summer School in the Blue Mountains.
Each day we’ll begin with a discussion of some aspect of the subject and then take an excursion to a local (or relatively local) place of colonial interest. The subject is vast and, obviously, impossible to cover in just one week. This course will, however, serve to whet the appetite for further study, and will also provide the opportunity for an interest filled week in pleasant surroundings with congenial company.
This course should appeal to seniors with an interest in the history of white settlement in Australia, but with a rather shaky memory of primary school lessons. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the Blue Mountains in 1813 and Edward Hargreaves discovered gold in Bathurst in 1850. We were drilled with these facts. But, how far did the explorers actually get, and what about Willian Tipple Smith who discovered gold three years before Hargreaves? Conflicts with the indigenous population were hardly mentioned, and it seemed that all convicts were sent out for stealing a loaf of bread.
This week long course aims to look at just who the convicts were and why the settlement was established in the first place. It will spend some time looking at the early conflicts with the locals and at the lives of some of the convicts. It will also examine the stories of a few of the first settlers (both men and women) and the difficulties they faced, as well as the success (or failure) they had. Because we’ll be based in Katoomba, we’ll be able to leave the classroom each day and visit some of the places associated with early white settlement. We’ll be close enough to Parramatta, Richmond and BathurstParramatta, Richmond and Bathurst to visit each of these places. It may surprise some of you to discover the rich array of colonial buildings available for us to explore.
Top Five Experiences.
- Discover the truth about the convicts, well, some of them anyway.
- Visit Elizabeth Farm near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.
- Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.
- Wander through what remains of Hartley Historic Village, just west of the mountains, with its 17 buildings of historic interest.
- Find out just why wagon loads of young Irish girls took the long journey to Bathurst.
Summer School classes for mature and senior travellers
Odyssey offers a collection of week-long learning programs offered each January in Hobart, Tasmania. Our 2021 classes will be held in Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW (due to Covid-19 border restrictions). Courses are refreshed for each year’s programs. Classes are limited to 15 people.
Over the last twenty-five years, Odyssey’s small group Summer School Program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we prepare and offer fun and challenging special interest courses and programs designed to give travellers the options and opportunity to learn about history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics. These courses are designed in such a way that enthusiasts can deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings on a subject.
These programs offered are tailor-made for mature-aged and senior travellers who are eager to explore in-depth a particular topic. Summer school learning programs for mature and senior travellers who are and remain curious about the world. Read more about our philosophy of the Odyssey Summer Schools.
Day 1: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura
We meet this afternoon, there is a welcome dinner this evening.
Day 2: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel. Leura
This week long course aims to look at just who the convicts were and why the settlement was established in the first place. Today we are classroom based. We spend some time looking at the early conflicts with the locals and at the lives of some of the convicts. It will also examine the stories of a few of the first settlers (both men and women) and the difficulties they faced, as well as the success (or failure) they had.
The program sets the scene for the excursions for the rest of the week.
Day 3: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura
Day trip to Parramatta.
Visit Elizabeth Farm ( & Belgenny Farm) near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.
This restful homestead hides a dark and stormy past. Built for the young military couple John and Elizabeth Macarthur and their growing family, Elizabeth Farm has witnessed major events in the growth of the colony, from the toppling of governors and convict rebellion to the birth of the Australian wool industry. As the original cottage was transformed into a fine colonial bungalow, the family’s life was equally gripped with turmoil and drama. Today, set within a re-created 1830s garden, Elizabeth Farm is an ‘access all areas’ museum. There are no barriers, locked doors or delicate furnishings. Australia’s oldest homestead is now our most immersive ‘living’ house museum.
Born Elizabeth Veale in 1766 in Devon, England, she married John Macarthur in 1788. Elizabeth weathered the political storms that raged around her husband for most of his life. They had nine children, seven of whom survived past infancy, three girls (Elizabeth, Mary, Emmeline) and four boys (Edward, John, James, William).
At their home, Elizabeth Farm at Rosehill, Elizabeth created a calm family life away from her husband’s political spotlight. During John’s absence in England from 1809 to 1817, she managed their farms at Rosehill, Seven Hills and Camden with their nephew Hannibal Macarthur. Elizabeth played a pivotal role in developing the Camden estate as a Merino stud and wool export enterprise.
Elizabeth had great faith in the colony and escaped the criticism often levelled at her husband. She managed the family estates with energy and a zest for outdoor activity which required travel from property to property. Elizabeth conducted herself with grace and dignity, forming close long-term friendships with several high ranking colonial women including Anna King (wife of Governor King) and Elizabeth Paterson (wife of Lieutenant-Governor Paterson).
We spend time visiting both places today.
Day 4: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura
Day trip to Richmond & Mt Wilson.
Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.
Mount Wilson is described as a very upper class retreat where cafes and gift shops do not prosper and people who love cold winters and beautiful gardens come to relive a lifestyle more in keeping with 19th century British colonialism than contemporary Australian society.
A walk through the village and be amazed at how different it is, not only from the rest of the Blue Mountains but from the rest of Australia.
Between 1912 and 1937 Patrick White’s parents lived at Withycombe in Mt Wilson (it is a private home on the corner of The Avenue and Church Avenue). In Flaws in the Glass, White described Mount Wilson poetically as ‘gullies crackling with smoky silence, rocks threatening to explode, pools so cold that the breath was cut off inside your ribs as you hung suspended like the corpse of a pale frog.’
Whilst in Mt Wilson we will try to include a tour of the Turkish Bath Museum. Located in the grounds of the Wynstay Estate then known as Yarrawa, the property was the first to be established in Mt Wilson in 1875.
The Turkish Bath is excellent example of late Victorian architecture with polychrome brickwork and Italianate details.
Built by Richard Wynne; first Mayor of Burwood NSW and the benefactor of the Wynne Art Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. Wynne was an assisted migrant from Dublin in 1842 and is described on the ship’s manifest as a bricklayer–according to family tradition Wynne himself made the dark red bricks in the building from local clay.
It’s thought that he built the Turkish bathhouse in the 1880s for his wife Mary Ann for therapeutic reasons rather than religious ones.
We return to Leura in the afternoon.
Day 5: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura
Day trip to Bathurst for the history of the colonial settler and to Hartley Historic village.
Day 6: Leura
Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura
Classroom session. Reflecting on what has been seen and discussed this week. The influences on contemporary Australian society.
Farwell meal this evening.
Day 7: Leura
The tour will end after breakfast.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 6 nights in full en suite accommodation
- 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.
- Three field trips
- Lectures and handouts as indicated.
- Services of a study leader and lecturers.
- Complimentary wifi.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Costs of a personal nature.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, moderate walking on uneven surfaces between 3 - 5 kilometers per day. Suitable for most fitness levels
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
A Shorter History of Australia: Revised
A broad, concise and inclusive vision of Australia and Australians by one our most renowned historians. After a lifetime of research and debate on Australian and international history, Geoffrey Blainey is well-placed to introduce us to the people who have played a part and to guide us through the events that have created the Australian identity- the mania for spectator sport; the suspicion of the tall poppy; the rivalries of Catholic and Protestant, Sydney and Melbourne, new and old homelands and new and old allies; the conflicts of war abroad and race at home; the importance of technology; defining the outback; the rise and rise of the mining industry; the recognition of our Aboriginal past and Native Title; the successes and failures of the nation. For this enlarged edition Blainey has rewritten or expanded on various episodes and themes and updated relevant matter. He has described significant events and trends of the early-20th century. A ready-reference timeline of major events in Australian history is also included. The Shorter history of Australia is a must for every home and library.
For the Term of His Natural Life
First published in 1874, this is the most famous work by the Australian novelist and poet, For the Term of His Natural Life is a powerful tale of an Australian penal settlement, which originally appeared in serial form in a Melbourne paper.
Girt: The Unauthorised History Of Australia
Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia . . . In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia's past, from megafauna to Macquarie - the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are. Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of 'felony of sock', and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia. It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia's only military coup. Our nation's beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.
True Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia Volume Two
First there was Girt. Now comes . . . True Girt In this side-splitting sequel to his best-selling history, David Hunt takes us to the Australian frontier. This was the Wild South, home to hardy pioneers, gun-slinging bushrangers, directionally challenged explorers, nervous indigenous people, Caroline Chisholm and sheep. Lots of sheep. True Girt introduces Thomas Davey, the hard-drinking Tasmanian governor who invented the Blow My Skull cocktail, and Captain Moonlite, Australia's most famous LGBTI bushranger. Meet William Nicholson, the Melbourne hipster who gave Australia the steam-powered coffee roaster and the world the secret ballot. And say hello to Harry, the first camel used in Australian exploration, who shot dead his owner, the explorer John Horrocks. Learn how Truganini's death inspired the Martian invasion of Earth. Discover the role of Hall and Oates in the Myall Creek Massacre. And be reminded why you should never ever smoke with the Wild Colonial Boy and Mad Dan Morgan. If Manning Clark and Bill Bryson were left on a desert island with only one pen, they would write True Girt.
My Home in Tasmania
Louisa Anne Meredith
Louisa Anne Meredith's account of her life in Tasmania was published in 1852. She was an experienced traveller, and this work is remarkable for being the first detailed account by a woman of life in the colony. Its shrewd observations and descriptive personal narrative make it an engaging read, as well as providing a valuable historical record. A keen botanist and artist, Meredith describes the island's natural life in great detail in beautiful and evocative passages. The first volume covers the journey to the island and her initial impressions of it and provides fascinating examples of colonial attitudes in the period. In Volume 2 she provides more anecdotes of her life, including descriptions of the animals and journeys within the island, and also covers more social issues, looking at religion and custom in the colony.
A Cargo of Women : Susannah Watson and the Convicts of the Princess Royal
Intrigued to discover a convict ancestor in her family tree, Babette Smith decided to investigate her life and the lives of the 99 women who were transported with her on the ship Princess Royal in 1829.Piece by piece she reveals the story of her ancestor the indomitable Susannah Watson who, trapped in the crowded filthy slums of Nottingham, stole because she could not bear to see her children starving'. Separated forever from her husband and four children, she was transported to Australia for 14 years. She endured the convict system at its worst, yet emerged triumphant to die in her bed aged 83 singing Rock of Ages'.Babette Smith reconstructs the lives of the women from the Princess Royal from fragments of information in shipping lists, official records, newspapers and court transcripts. Her research overturns stereotypes of women convicts as drunken whores and criminals. Caught in an England convulsed by change, they become the unwitting and unwilling pioneers of a new land. Many proved to be resourceful and resilient, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by a new society.First published two decades ago, A Cargo of Women became a bestseller and remains one of the most valuable accounts of convict life in Australia. This new edition includes further information about the women from the Princess Royal and new illustrations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Odyssey Traveller Summer School
What is the Odyssey Traveller Summer School program?
Odyssey Traveller’s small group Summer School program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we offer numerous special interest courses and programs. Courses are designed for senior travellers who are eager to deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings of a particular subject. Often these courses underpin our European small groups tours for seniors that are offered each year. We focus on history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics.
Who are your lecturers?
Summer School lecturers and instructors are current or retired university lecturers or experts with a particular passion for teaching their chosen subject. Many of our lecturers have extensive teaching experience, and are gifted educators with the ability to adapt material based on the group’s needs. Many of them have taught with us for several years. They have fine-tuned their courses to allow for deep engagement on the part of participants.
What should participants expect from a Summer School program?
Our teaching rooms are located at the Fairmont resort in Leura. This location enables us to screen relevant documentaries and films, and to maintain engaging teaching environments.
Summer School programs are designed to encourage participation. Expect regular discussions and tutorial exercises, as well as various group activities. The majority of our courses also feature memorable educational excursions, which take full advantage of all that the Blue Mountains have to offer. Other programs feature outings and excursions to sites of cultural significance, in order to blend classroom learning with more interactive and hands-on educational experiences.
Where are Blue Mountains located?
The Blue Mountains, a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, are located west of Sydney, less than an hour from Sydney either by train or car.
Why are the Blue Mountains blue?
The Blue Mountains is densely populated by oil-bearing Eucalyptus trees. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapor, scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue in colour.
How do you spend a day in the Blue Mountains?
Often rated among the best viewpoints in Australia, Echo Point provides travelers with an amazing vista of the iconic Three Sisters rock formation and Jamison Valley.
If you want to get to the base of Three Sisters, take the trail called the Giant Stairway, but we do not recommend it to anyone with knee problems, because there are more than 800 steps before you get to the floor of the valley.
You do not need to return the same way, but it is possible to get to the Echo Point via Federal Pass, Furber Steps and Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
If you have bad knees, you can instead take a Scenic Skyway cable car.
The cabins are made of glass, so you can get amazing views of the mountains from above, and another attraction is the world’s steepest passenger railway which will take you to the bottom of the valley, where a series of boardwalks will walk you through the native rainforest.
What animals live in the Blue Mountains?
Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Blue Mountains area covers around 11,400 square kilometres of land consisting of rugged mountains, canyons, cliffs, rock formations, and valleys.
Over a hundred and thirty species of bird live in the woodlands, grasslands, and swamps. Of the avian species, one hundred and twenty-three are native diurnal birds, seven nocturnal including four types of owl, and sixteen varieties of bat.
Of the mammals, there are two main varieties can be found in the region: six are arboreal and eleven terrestrial.
The arboreal species include the vulnerable squirrel gliders, sugar gliders, feathertail gliders, greater gliders, common ringtail possums, and common brushtail possums.
And the native ground mammals include one type of monotreme (platypus), three dasyurids, one bandicoot, three macropods, two rodents, and the endangered brush-tailed rock-wallaby.