7 days
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Summer School for Seniors | 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.

We all know that Australia's (white) history began with the establishment of a convict colony. But how much do we really know about this early history? Do we really understand the reasons that Great Britain decided to send convicts to the antipodes? Should we believe the standard explanation that British gaols were overcrowded - or was something else entirely going on?

In a series of summer school classes we will explore these questions with the help of experts in the field. Our course focuses on the specific case of Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen's Land), and explores its similarities and differences from the 'mainland'. We hear from local and national historians, who share their work revealing new dimensions of the early European settlement of 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.

Our summer scholars also make several field trips to important convict sites. We make an extensive tour of the notoriously brutal Port Arthur, and visit the Cascades Female Factory, where old and young women alike were forced to labour under constant surveillance.

We also experience life outside the convict system. We trace free settlers of various social classes in our visits to the elegant colonial homestead of Runnymede, the Theatre Royale, and Ancanthe Park.

Summer School for Seniors with Odyssey Traveller

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. Read more about our teaching philosophy in this article.

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."

For further information, check out the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ pages above. If you want to attend Odyssey's Summer School and take part in our social activities, please call or send us an email.

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: The tour will begin with a welcome reception and dinner.

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 why the Australian colonies were established, as well as visiting the Penitentiary Chapel and Old Gaol, followed by the Cascades Female Factory.

Overview: Our study continues this morning with a lecture on Point Puer. Afterwards, we enjoy an extensive tour of Port Arthur. with a classroom lecture and/or field trip to explore convicts and emigrants in Tasmania.

Overview: This morning, we enjoy a guest lecture by Alison Alexander, on Maria Lord: Tasmania’s most successful woman convict. In the afternoon, we visit the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Overview: This morning, we enjoy a guest lecture by Tony Marshall. Afterwards, we take a tour of Richmond and Colebrook.

Overview: Today’s classes focus on the issue of free immigration. Who were the free settlers? We explore this question, with visits to Runnymede, the Theatre Royal, and Ancanthe. In the evening, we come together with other Summer School participants for a closing dinner.

Overview: The tour will end after breakfast.

Develop a greater understanding of the reasons why Great Britain sent convicts to this far-flung part of the world.
Gain an introduction to the leaders of government and society in the early days of the colony.
Learn more about the nature, character and history of convicts sent to Tasmania.
Gain insight into the life of the women convicts in Van Diemen’s Land.
Take a closer look at the people from Great Britain and Ireland who freely chose to emigrate to our State.

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.

Odyssey Summer Schools map

Convicts and Emigrants
Colony Map of Tasmania
Port Arthur village historic site, a 19th-century penal settlement

Tour Reviews

February 1, 2018

David is extremely knowledgeable, courteous and friendly. He wasn’t rigid with the itinerary (times) as he wanted all the participants to enjoy and see what interested them the most. He did an excellent job.

February 1, 2018

Very knowledgeable coach drivers, courteous and friendly (as were they all) but Stuart bent over backwards to show us various landmarks around Hobart on our last day.

February 1, 2018

Our leader, David Daintree, did a fantastic job. He was able to impart his knowledge and keep an easy-going vibe to the course. Most enjoyable. The two guest speakers were great. As I was reading Alison Alexander’s book I was especially pleased to meet her and hear her talk on convicts in Tasmania.

February 1, 2018

It was my first time with Odyssey & I enjoyed it very much

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