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Convict history alive at Female Factory

THE new $5 million History and Interpretation Centre at the World Heritage-listed Cascades Female Factory has been officially opened, cementing the South Hobart site as a significant centrepiece of Tasmania’s convict history.

The new state-of-the art interpretative experience was revealed to more than 100 VIP guests and stakeholders at an official launch event on 25 March.

Developed with $3 million State Government and $2.024 million Federal Government funding, the Cascades Female Factory tells the tragic and triumphant stories of convict women and their children; the local Aboriginal history of the site; and the significant role women played during colonisation.

The new facilities and experiences include an exhibition, audio tour, convict history tour, theatrical performance, educational tours and, in the future, a program of special events that align with the site’s heritage values.

A photographic installation features 24 contemporary women who share their personal stories and ancestral links to the site – including First Nations linguist Theresa Sainty, who played a key role in integrating the Aboriginal stories into the site and delivered the Welcome to Country address at the launch event.

Dame Quentin Bryce, who first visited the site during her tenure as Governor General, delivered an engaging keynote address.

“The Cascades Female Factory serves as a place for reflection and celebration of the courage of the founding mothers of Australia,” she said.

“The stories explore the significant role the women played in shaping Australia’s identity. Many of these stories have not been told before.

“The site allows us to explore our history, it opens our eyes and our hearts to ensure that we learn from the past.

“We can’t change the past, but we can use the lessons of the past to shape our future.”

The Female Factory project also involved the commission and installation of bronze statues depicting convict women and children, created by internationally renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie.

The statues can be found at the Female Factory, outside the Macq 01 Hotel on the Hobart waterfront, and at the heritage-listed ‘Orphan School’ site at New Town.

Liberal Member for Clark Elise Archer said funds for the creation, installation and maintenance of the statues were raised entirely by voluntary, not-for-profit groups.

“I have been very happy to champion projects such as these because the statues will contribute to Hobart’s existing international artistic reputation and represent a significant investment in heritage tourism,” Ms Archer said.

“The History and Interpretation Centre will be a tourism and educational drawcard for all Tasmanians and will contribute to Hobart’s existing international cultural reputation.”

The Cascades Female Factory is open from 9am-5pm seven days a week, with tours available throughout the day. For details go to https://femalefactory.org.au

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