Port Arthur Talks

The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority presents this semi-regular series of talks by authoritative speakers on a variety of topics, ranging from history and conservation to environmental issues, research results, study tours and much more.

The talks are held every couple of months at the Port Arthur Historic Site, are free of charge and open to anyone who is interested in the topic. Rich and varied subjects and speakers make for fascinating listening and discussion.

Each talk begins at 5:30pm in the building at the rear of the Junior Medical Officer’s House at Port Arthur Historic Site. Light refreshments provided.

For more information about our Port Arthur Talks, please phone +61 (0)3 6251 2324.

21 June

By the 19th century, the ‘panopticon’ prison paradigm, as envisioned by famed philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, had received limited support in Britain due to the prevalence of transportation to New South Wales. In retaliation to what he believed to be a conspiracy against his works and the will of parliament, Bentham began to write a thousand page manuscript titled ‘A Picture of the Treasury’ so as to expose the violation of justice and constitution that transportation represented. This talk shall cover Bentham’s opposition to transportation, the impact that the singular published section of the ‘Picture’ caused and how crowdsourced transcription plus volunteer transcribers are contributing to the production of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.

Tim Causer is a Senior Research Associate at the Bentham Project, in the Faculty of Laws, University College London. He is currently working on Bentham’s writings on Australia, transportation, and colonialism, which will make up a volume of Bentham’s Collected Works. Since the completion of his PhD on the Norfolk Island penal settlement he has also co-ordinated the award-winning crowdsourced transcription initiative, Transcribe Bentham and published the earliest Australian convict narrative, titled Memorandoms by James Martin.

Port Arthur Talks leaflet – Dr Tim Causer

21 August

“I always worked hard for my living but hunger drove me to it” John Finelly/Finlay, accounting to the court for his theft of pork and clothing at Evandale in 1872.

Irishman John Finelly was one of the minority of transportees who reoffended, and his defence in court shed light on his struggle to survive in Tasmania. Why did men like him remain enmeshed in the convict system for decades, despite the bright promise of the New World?

I will argue that, compounding the burden they carried from their deprived lives in Britain, this colonial society relentlessly and remorselessly drove men like John Finelly into lives composed of cycles of poverty, offending and incarceration.

Trained as an archaeologist, and having worked in museums, galleries and as a consultant, Julia spent the last 12 years of her career as manager of Interpretation and Collections at Port Arthur, where she was able to combine her interest in convict history and photography in research that has become her PhD thesis.

Port Arthur Talks leaflet – Dr Julia Clark

10 October