The Minister for Environment, Parks and Heritage, Brian Wightman, has unveiled the results of major conservation works in a previously derelict yard at the Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart.
Yard four of the historic site was constructed in the 1850s. The various yards were used for institutional purposes after the Female Factory closed in 1856, and then subdivided and sold in the early 20th century.
The rear section of yard four, behind the Matrons Cottage, was used as an industrial services yard until it was bought back into public ownership in 2007.
“The Female Factory has been a wealth of discovery for many years now, and today’s unveiling is the next step that rich journey,” Mr Wightman said.
“Thanks to these works, visitors can now see evidence of a kitchen, washhouse, nursery apartments for babies and mothers, and Matrons’ accommodation in this newly-explored yard.
“The next stage of this project will see interpretive equipment installed, to further bring history to life.
“It’s a rich but haunting experience at this site. As many as 1,200 women served time here at any given time.
“Their suffering and resilience is a part of our history that was effectively swept under the carpet for a long time. It’s now being conserved and revealed for all of us to understand,” he said,
The Female Factory is World Heritage-listed, and arguably the most significant site associated with female convicts anywhere in Australia.
The project in yard four has been an initiative of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA), which assumed management from the community-based Female Factory Ltd in 2011.
The yard one of eleven sites included in the Australian World Heritage Convict Sites property.
An interesting feature of the project has been the re-opening of a door between yards 3 and 4, which has probably been closed for more than a century.
“The Tasmanian Government is proud to be supporting conservation of this important place, and delighted with PAHSMA’s achievements since taking over the site, last year,” Mr Wightman said.
“We’re also delighted with my federal counterpart Tony Burke’s recent announcement of almost $400,000 in federal funding to continue protecting and interpreting Yards 1 and 4.
“The transformation from a private works yard to what we see today is remarkable.
“I congratulate all those involved, and look forward to seeing more of the Female Factory’s history revealed,” he said.
The project was managed by PAHSMA, designed by Susan Small Landscape Architects and constructed by Jonathan Hearn Landscape Design & Construction.
It prioritised Tasmanian materials and the local construction industry, and was finished on-time and on-budget.
The Cascades Female Factory is open daily, and offers a range of tours – including the theatrical walking tour ‘Her Story’.