Public and Private Voices: Australia 1800-1900

Journals, diaries, stories and notebooks speak to us of the thoughts and feelings of our early settlers. These voices are intensely individual and project feelings of delight, disgust and misery, in an outspoken and personal way. We get to share the hardships and isolation experienced by these people, wherever they lived, be it the bush or the town. Included are some examples of cartoons, illustrating the importance of humour in this society plus comments from European visitors of the period adding diversity and insights to this course.

Independent Study Discussion Courses are for study by groups without a tutor, so there is no need to write reports. These courses were written by tutors who have now since retired from the Discussion Group Program. Some courses were written a number of years ago, and therefore contain references to events which are now more historical than current, however, all are entertaining, well-produced and worthwhile.


Course Author: Irene Inkson

Course Code: D128

Supplied Material: Course Booklet

  • M E Ackland (Ed.), The Penguin Book of 19th Century Australian Literature

Units & Pricing: 6 units / $54 per person


Start your Group: Anyone can start a Discussion Group – seek out some like-minded friends or put up a notice in your local library, bookshop or workplace. Please note a minimum of 6 people is required to start a new discussion group.

Arrange the Meetings: New groups need to decide where and when to meet, and for how long – whatever best suits members' particular situations.

Run your Group: Choose a secretary to liaise with WEA and your tutor, a Discussion Leader to chair meetings, a reporter to take discussion notes to send to your tutor, and maybe a librarian to look after the books.

Start the Course: Contact WEA Sydney to enrol. Bookings can be made for one year, divided into two terms – Term 1 commences in February, Term 2 in July (Groups may make forward bookings for popular choices). Please indicate in what order your Group wishes to study the courses, if more than one course is booked.