The Swan River Colony settled in 1829, was intended to be free of the convict taint. Despite that, a prison, the Roundhouse in Fremantle, was one of the first buildings constructed. In subsequent decades Western Australia became a penal colony for the transportation of convicts, a prison was built for the incarceration of Aboriginal men on Wadjemup (Rottnest), and numerous gaols were scattered through the landscape. Rather than being free of convicts, the colony was suffused with penal concerns, and supported by coerced labour.

This symposium brings together local and international researchers to discuss recent scholarship on Western Australia’s penal history. The keynote speaker will be Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, with scholars from history, archaeology and heritage sharing their research.

From beaten bodies to graffiti on cell walls to archaeological sites on the York Rd and the Upper Swan, and to the oft forgotten convicts at King Georges Sound and on Wadjemup, this promises to be a stimulating day which will stimulate dialogue, develop new approaches, and may overturn some traditional thinking about convictism in WA.


  • Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Uni Tasmania
  • Dr Shane Burke, Notre Dame University
  • Dr Fiona Bush OAM, Independent Scholar
  • Olimpia Cullity, Fremantle Prison
  • Luke Donegan, Fremantle Prison
  • Dr Bill Edgar, Independent Scholar
  • Sean Liddelow, Hons Student (Archaeology), UWA
  • Louis Marshall, PhD Candidate (History), UWA
  • B’geella Romano, Independent Scholar
  • Dr Katy Roscoe, University of London
  • Moss Wilson, Dept Planning, Land & Heritage
  • Dr Sean Winter, UWA
  • Denise Young, BA Hons (History), UWA

Where: Fremantle Prison, Crown Theatre
When: Saturday 7th July 2018
Time: 8.30am to 6.00pm.

Admission is free but booking is a must. Please RSVP to by 1st July 2018.