Australia’s Governor General Quentin Bryce has paid homage to the women who passed through the Cascades Female Factory.
Planting a flowering cherry tree in a moving ceremony at the South Hobart historic site, Her Excellency said that between the stones of the old female prison a garden now grows giving grace to the sad story of the inmates.
Ms Bryce has long been an advocate of women’s rights and eagerly accepted an invitation to visit the site that was home to many thousands of women and their children from 1828 to1856.
“We come here quietly and respectfully,” Ms Bryce told guests at the dedication ceremony.
“How can we imagine the lives of the thousands of women brought here to live in exile and hard labour to live under crushing indignity? These things are beyond imagining.
“May this garden always grow here, a green record to the women of Cascades.”
To mark her visit, the Governor General was presented with a unique Huon Pine sculpture of a young female convict, created by talented Tasmanian artist, Bernie Tarr and a ‘Roses from the Heart’ bonnet by Artist in Residence at the site, Christina Henri.
The female factory site is part of the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Convict Sites serial nomination for World Heritage Listing by UNESCO.
Site Chairman Peter Rae said World Heritage recognition was due to the site.
“It helps us understand who we are now and what we will be tomorrow,
“Its preservation is a mission to make sure this place and its memories are not lost. It must be protected.”
The Female Factory operated between 1828 and 1856. More than half the 25,000 women transported to Australia came to Van Diemens Land, and most had a connection or association with the Cascades Female Factory.
Its volunteer board and labourers have obtained funding to purchase key areas of the site to tell and celebrate the female convict story of Tasmania and Australia.
The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site will be handed over to the people of Tasmania on March 4.