Communications & Media

School holiday project to unearth insights into Tasmania’s convict era

History teachers, artists and aspiring archaeologists will be immersed in Tasmania’s convict past during a unique hands-on school holiday project.

Between 14-22 April, an excavation will take place at the ruins of Kerry Lodge, a former convict probation station located south of Launceston.

The cross-disciplinary program, called Excavating Convict Lives, is being coordinated by the University of Tasmania in partnership with the University of Manchester, Launceston Historical Society and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. History teachers will take advantage of a rare opportunity to work as archaeologists at an authentic location, gaining skills and knowledge that they can apply to their classroom practice.

Dr Karen Hall from the School of Creative Arts will be working with local and national artists as they observe and work alongside the archaeologists to help inform the creation of new work, inspired by the location’s history. 

The resulting pieces will be showcased alongside unearthed artefacts at an upcoming Kerry Lodge Art Project exhibition.

Dr Louise Zarmati, a Lecturer in Humanities and Social Sciences from the School of Education and an archaeologist, said educational activities would be provided for children, aged five to 14 years.

Excavating Convict Lives is a fascinating project that will provide people of all ages with the chance to experience a unique chapter of Tasmania’s colonial history,” Dr Zarmati said.

“Building on this, we are widening the project to coordinate Kids’ Dig sessions on Thursday, April 19. Children will be involved in a realistic excavation which will take them through the process of archaeology, from excavation to artefact analysis, recording and interpretation.

“By facilitating these activities, we hope to get the next generation engaged with Australian and colonial history at an early age while showing them that there is more to archaeology than just digging.”

The Kerry Lodge Convict Probation Station was established in 1834, operating until about 1847.

Used as a stone quarry and sandstone-working centre for the construction of the Strathroy Bridge and the old highway to Hobart, it housed about 30 convicts.

The project commenced at the site in 2015 when a small test pit exposed a collapsed structure.

To date, excavations have revealed an overseer’s cottage and a number of artefacts including glass bottle stoppers, fragments of blue and white china, a clay pipe and metal door hinge.

Further information can be found at:

Registrations for the Family Day Kids’ Dig activities can be made here.

Published on: 13 Apr 2018 2:08pm