The Cascades Female Factory has marked another chapter in its long and significant history today with the site handed over to the people of Tasmania.
The Minister for Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts, Michelle O’Byrne, said the Female Factory Historic Site’s gift to the people of Tasmania was a generous and gracious one.
“The State Government is honoured to be celebrating this significant event and takes on a great responsibility in accepting on behalf of the people of Tasmania this gift,” Ms O’Byrne said.
“In the future, I see the site increasingly becoming a focal point for the history of our convict women. I see it as equal in stature as Port Arthur and Sarah Island.
“This site is of great importance to the State and Australia – indeed, as it speaks to people far beyond our shores, I believe it is of world heritage significance.”
Ms O’Byrne said this Sunday marked International Women’s Day, a day of global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women – past, present and future.
“It is fitting, then, that today we remember the thousands of convict women and their children who spent time in the Female Factory from 1826 to 1856.”
The handover marks the gifting of the Matron’s Cottage and Yard 3 to the State and acknowledges the work undertaken by the site management and its volunteers.
Ownership of the factory will now rest with the State Government. The Female Factory Historic Site will continue to operate the site under a Licence until 30 June 2009.
Chairman of the Female Factory Historic Site, Peter Rae, said the Cascade Female Factory in its current form exists today primarily due to a volunteer board and labourers.
“Their achievement in obtaining funds to purchase key areas of the site for conservation, and developing the site on very limited budget to become a place where Tasmania’s and Australia’s female convict story is told and celebrated, is one worthy of the State’s gratification.
“It is also one of the few remaining female factory sites in Australia and is rightly part of the Australia Serial Convict nomination for World Heritage.”
The Female Factory operated between 1828 and 1856. More than half the 25,000 women transported to Australia came to Van Diemen’s Land, and most had a connection or association with the Cascades Female Factory.