New visual elements help tell the stories of Tasmania’s women convicts

While Port Arthur and other well-known convict heritage sites in Tasmania have long related the stories of mostly male convicts, the stories of the thousands of women who were transported to the colonies have, until recently, been less accessible. New display elements at the site help visitors to understand its layout and appreciate the stories of those who were incarcerated here.

The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in South Hobart tells the stories of Australia’s women convicts and their children in a variety of ways; signage and printed guide notes are available, as is an informative guided Heritage Tour. The dramatic Her Story brings the tale of the trials and tribulations of a woman in the Factory in the 1830s to life in a moving and engaging way.

The stories of 52 women from the Female Factory have been illustrated and are displayed around the Historic Site, aligning with the publication A Pack of Thieves: 52 Female Factory Lives and its associated playing cards.

While little of the original buildings survive other than the imposing stone walls, clever elements incorporated into the site where the structures once stood help to illustrate its history. Combined with a Heritage Tour and Her Story,  the displays help visitors to visualise the emotional but also inspiring stories of the women convicts who were confined here.

Aerial view of the Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart, Tasmania

Regular guided tours of the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site relate the history of women convicts

Lines in the ground surface indicate where there were once buildings and doors

Lines in the ground surface indicate where there were once buildings and doors

Replicas of period furniture sculpted in steel indicate the function of rooms that have long since vanished

Replicas of period furniture sculpted in steel indicate the function of rooms that have long since vanished

The stories and illustrations of 52 convict women are displayed around the Historic Site

The stories and illustrations of 52 convict women are displayed around the Historic Site

A translucent glass screen has a historic photo of the Chapel etched into it, overlaying the view of where it once stood.

A translucent glass screen has a historic photo of the Chapel etched into it, overlaying the view of where it once stood.

A pulpit and steel pews indicate the location of the chapel at the Cascades Female Factory

A pulpit and steel pews indicate the location of the chapel at the Cascades Female Factory

Poignant babies' cribs in what was once the nursery of the Cascades Female Factory

Poignant babies’ cribs in what was once the nursery of the Cascades Female Factory