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Convicts and Emigrants in Tasmania

Convicts and Emigrants in Tasmania is part of Odyssey Traveller's annual week-long Summer School learning programs offered each January in Hobart, Tasmania.

Our summer institute programs offer both classroom learning activities and field trips. We enjoy a lecture by the award-winning historian Alison Alexander, who is part of the faculty at the University of Tasmania. Her study has uncovered the extraordinary story of Maria Lord, a convict woman who built an extensive retail empire. By 1820, she controlled over a third of colonial resources, and was married to one of the colony's richest men - but one scandal threatened to unravel it all. We also hear a talk by Tony Marshall, a librarian and archivist at the State Library of Tasmania.

Do we really understand the reasons Great Britain decided to send convicts to the antipodes? Was it just a case of clearing offenders out of overcrowded gaols in England, Ireland and Scotland or were there other agendas in play in the global world of the British Empire?

We hope that this course will help us to a greater understanding of the decision to settle the Great South Land.  We look, too, at the specific situation of Tasmania, its similarities to and differences from the ‘mainland’ settlements.

We travel each day to settlement sites, such as Port Arthur and the ‘Female Factory’, and try to see them through the eyes of those who sailed a world away from home, in most cases never to return. The human story of the people who were transported or freely chose to emigrate is an exciting and profoundly moving one.

Summer School classes  for mature and senior travellers

Odyssey offers a collection of week-long learning programs offered each January in Hobart, Tasmania. 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.

We don’t quite live on campus, but we will be staying in a comfortable hotel in central Hobart! We will enjoy welcome and farewell dinners in between our seminars, as well as daily morning tea and lunch.

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.

Below are some of the feedback from our Summer School programs in January 2019:

"Mal was an extraordinary leader in this program about extraordinary women. The depth and breadth of her preparation was amazing and the information book was of publishable quality. The mix of text, documentaries, and various YouTube videos all combined to not only extend our knowledge but kept us focused and interested throughout the course."

"Pav was an outstanding programme leader. His knowledge of plants and Tasmanian gardens is exceptional. His local knowledge and contacts are impressive. At all times he led the group with good humour and tolerance and at all times I felt he was totally in control of the programme. We were very fortunate to have him as our leader."

"The program was so well organised that each day ran very smoothly. Extraordinary women - extraordinary program!"

"All of the local guides were passionate about their places...Everyone was very proud of Tasmania [and] eager for us to get the most out of our visit."

Frequently Asked Questions About Odyssey Traveller Summer School

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.

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.

Our teaching rooms are located in a state-of-the-art conference centre in central Hobart. This location enables us to screen relevant documentaries and films, and to maintain engaging teaching environments. This conference facility is perfectly situated, just a a short walk from our hotel.

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 Hobart has to offer. Our “Convicts and Migrants” program takes participants to many of the region’s most historically significant sites, including Port Arthur and Runnymede House. 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.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: After checking in to the Ibis Styles, we come together for a welcome dinner at 6pm. This is a chance to meet the group leader, fellow members of the Convicts and Emigrants program and other Summer Schools participants. We meet in the hotel lobby at 6pm.

Overview: We will begin our study with a general overview of the colonisation of Australia, particularly Tasmania. We enjoy a background lecture on the reasons the Australian colonies were established. The remainder of the day will be spent visiting the Cascades Female Factory.

Overview: Today we take a full day field trip to Port Arthur.

Overview: This morning, we enjoy a guest lecture by Alison Alexander, on Maria Lord, Tasmania’s most successful woman convict.  Afterwards we visit the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery as well as the Maritime museum.

Overview: This morning we enjoy a guest lecture by author and researcher Tony Marshall on the subject of free settlement.  Today’s tour is to Richmond.

Overview: Today’s classes focus on the issue of free immigration. Who were the free settlers? We explore this question, with visits to Runnymede (one of the fine colonial mansions now owned by the National Trust) and the Penitentiary Chapel and Old Gaol. In the evening, we come together with other Summer School participants for a farewell dinner at the Customs House Hotel at 6:00pm.

If time permits, we will visit the Theatre Royal.

Overview: The tour will end after breakfast.

Introduction to the settlement of Tasmania. We examine the reasons Great Britain decided to send convicts to this far-flung part of the world.
Introduction to those who ran the colony. Who were they, and what kind of infrastructure was there in the early days of the colony?
Some new reflections on the nature of convicts sent to Tasmania. Were they different from those dispatched to other colonies in other periods, and if so how?
Who were the women convicts and how did they fare? Is the common perception that they were just ‘prostitutes and whores’ in any way justified?
Free emigration in a convict world. Here we look at how people from Great Britain and Ireland freely chose to emigrate in the 1830s.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 6 nights in full en suite accommodation in central Hobart.
  • 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 2 dinners.
  • Lectures and handouts as indicated.
  • Services of a study leader and lecturers.
  • Complimentary wifi.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Return airfares to and from Hobart.
  • Airport transfers to/from your Hobart Hotel
  • Costs of a personal nature.
Convicts and Emigrants
Colony Map of Tasmania
Tasmanian coastline
Port Arthur village historic site, a 19th-century penal settlement