Some of the less well-known history of Tasmania’s convict past has been made more accessible due to a project funded by both the State and Commonwealth Governments.
Opening the new conservation and interpretation works at the World Heritage listed Cascades Female Factory site in South Hobart, Senator for Tasmania Carol Brown was joined by the Member for Lyons, Rebecca White.
Senator Brown said that a grant of $374,000 was made under the Federal Government’s Your Community Heritage program and this has enabled the yards of the convict-era women’s prison to be filled with the footprints of the buildings that housed the women who were once held and worked there.
Ms White said that the State Government had kicked in a further $380,000 to vastly improve the visitor experience at the World Heritage listed site.
“As one of the only places of early female imprisonment with remains intact, it is one of the most significant sites of convict heritage in the world.” Ms White said.
“All that remains of the original fabric of the site buildings are the imposing stone boundary walls and Matron’s Quarters in Yard 4, so it was very difficult for visitors to understand what happened, or how the yards were laid out, or anything much at all about the lives of the women and children incarcerated here,” she said.
Senator Brown said that visitors can see, via the landscaping elements which show the various structures, locations and boundaries where there were buildings and what those buildings were used for.
“Visitors will be able to explore the stories of convict women through interpretation media,” she said.
“Well-trodden pathways that women would have taken as they moved around within the prison walls each day can also be seen. It really does offer visitors a strong sense of the lives of the convict women who were here in the middle years of the nineteenth century.
“Interpretation elements, including a solitary cell, light boxes offering views of long-vanished buildings and illustrated signage, offer insights into the uses the Site has been put to during and after its years as a women’s prison.”
Ms White said that a $5 fee will be introduced for visitors to the site from 1 October 2013.
“Funds raised will contribute to the on-going conservation and improvement of the visitor experience at the site.
Ms White said that South Hobart residents will continue to receive free entry to the historic site, and holders of Port Arthur Historic Site Ticket of Leave passes will also have free entry to the site, paying only for tours.
The Cascades Female Factory opened in 1828 and operated as a prison and place of punishment for re-offending female convicts, a female labour hiring depot, a hospital, a nursery, a place for pregnant convicts and a workplace.