British transportation of convicts to Australia was the world’s first attempt to build a new society on the labour of convicted prisoners. In total around 25,000 women were transported to Australia for their crimes, and current research suggests that over 6,000 of them spent at least part of their sentence within the walls of the Cascades Female Factory.

A visit to this World Heritage Site is an engaging and interactive learning experience.

Guided Convict Women’s Tour

This tour is suitable for upper primary and secondary students – duration approximately 45 minutes

The Convict Women’s Tour for education groups offers students an introduction to the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site and the stories that are held within its walls. The tour is conducted by experienced guides who encourage two-way communication and empower students to actively explore as they are offered insights into the system of 19th century punishment and reform.

Students will be given the opportunity to empathise with the convict women who served time at the Factory, as they reflect on the history and consider whether the punishments were fitting to the crimes they committed.

The Proud and the Punished

This tour is suitable for upper primary and secondary students – duration approximately 45 minutes

The Proud and the Punished is a one-woman performance that brings to life the story of Sarah Mason, a convict who railed against the severe system of punishment at the Cascades Female Factory and experienced both tragedy and triumph inside the prison walls.

Combining historical accounts of life at the Factory, original songs and a cast of colourful characters, The Proud and the Punished is an experience that symbolises the strength and spirit of the women who experienced the hardships of convict life.

Records and Artefacts

This activity is suitable for upper primary and secondary students – duration approximately 45 minutes

‘Records and Artefacts’ is an interactive activity where students examine historical sources to discover the personal stories behind some of the real convict women.

Students study and transcribe copies of original handwritten convict records from a selection of the women who spent time at the Cascades Female Factory. Following this, students get the chance to examine real artefacts and work like detectives to figure out what they are. Students then piece together the information they have discovered to draw their own conclusions about the convict women’s lives. This activity provides a glimpse into how historians and archaeologists use primary evidence to learn about the past.