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Uncovering a Lost Culture: Australian Convict Dance 1788-1840

February 9 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Free – $10

Although it was recognised that convicts brought their popular culture when transported to colonial Australia, little was known of the details. Dr Heather Blasdale Clarke has investigated the culture of dance and music which was important for these forced migrants by examining Old Bailey Court Transcripts, Medical Journals from convict ships, newspaper reports in the colony, and contemporary art and literature. These resources have revealed a remarkable amount of information about non-elite music and dance in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the Britain, Ireland and Australia.

This presentation will follow the convict experience from Britain, in transit, and within the colony, exploring the music, dances, occasions, and locations (including Moreton Bay), and revealing the significance of popular culture in their lives.

Dr Heather Blasdale Clarke is a dance teacher and historian specialising in early Australian colonial culture and dance. She has carried out extensive research in an hitherto uncharted area of social and cultural history, and has received a number of local and international scholarships to further this research. In 2018 she completed a professional doctorate to examine the intriguing topic of early Australian convict dance. By combining a comprehensive understanding of the many dance traditions relevant to early Australian history, she is able to bring a deep insight to this fascinating study. Heather frequently presents workshops and seminars, and regularly publishes articles on her website.

This event is free for members of The Royal Historical Society of Queensland. For non-members, the ticket price includes entry to the Commissariat Store Museum.

Please note that we are complying with the Queensland Government’s public health and social measures. This means that anyone who is vaccinated is welcome to enter the museum so long as they:

  • Provide a copy of their vaccination certificate, either on their phone or on paper
  • Have a valid medical exemption certificate if unvaccinated
  • Check in with the Check In Qld app

Anyone who is unvaccinated will not be allowed to enter the venue.


February 9
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Free – $10
Event Category:


The Royal Historical Society of Queensland