SYDNEY SEA WENCHES
Charlotte Badger and Cathrine Haerty, Australia’s only female pirates. Both were convicts sent to Australia in 1806 who organised a rebellion on the boat transporting them from Sydney to Tasmania. Charlotte stood at the helm of the ship as she and Cathrine commanded the mutinous crew and female convicts on a journey to New Zealand.
AUSTRALIAN FEMALE ROWING CHAMPIONS
From the first Australian Women’s Rowing Race in 1901 to the achievements of Adair Ferguson, the first woman to win an event at the Rowing World Championships, to the Olympic Gold won by Kim Brennan at Rio in 2016. Follow along with a timeline covering more than a hundred years of women’s rowing in Australia.
WRANS IN BRISBANE
Follow Women of the Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) served in Brisbane at the naval base HMAS Moreton. Most were only stationed in Brisbane temporarily, awaiting transfer to Townsville or Cairns, but these naval women weren’t just going to sit around. While in Brisbane they trained hard to keep their skills sharp for when they entered service. Many of these women have some very interesting stories to tell.
FLORENCE VIOLET MCKENZIE
Australia’s first female electrical engineer, founder of the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps and the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. Florence McKenzie was a strong, forward-thinking woman who believed women and men were both capable of the same skills and she fought for the women to be given the right to prove themselves.
Ruby-Boye-Jones was Australia’s only female Coastwatcher during World War Two. She remained on the island of Vanikoro even when the southern advance of the Japanese scared others away. She punted across a crocodile infested river in the rain to reach the radio she used to send messages; messages that proved vital for numerous naval passages and battles in the South Pacific.
Winifred Davenport, Australia’s first female engineer and a prominent figure in the history of Australian maritime engineering and architecture. Winifred helped design the Manly Boat Harbour in Brisbane and earned many prestigious honours in recognition of her hard work. Winifred became an icon for women by rising to such a high status in a world dominated by men.
honours Kay Cottee became the first woman to solo circumnavigate the globe in 1987. Not only that, but she built the boat she travelled in herself. She spent 189 days at sea with only a two-way radio and suffered many hardships.
Jessica Watson sailed solo around the world at just 16 years old from 2009 until 2010. This made her the youngest person in history to circumnavigate the globe unassisted. She’d been sailing with her family since childhood and was inspired by the stories of other sailors to make her incredible journey. Now, it is her story that inspires people.
Naomi Cain was the only woman on the first ever all indigenous crew to sail the Sydney to Hobart race. The two team hoped to be an inspiration to Aboriginal people and Naomi said she personally hoped to be an inspiration to young Aboriginal women.
ABORIGINAL WOMEN PEARL DIVERS
In the 1800s Aboriginal women were taken from their native lands and forced to work as skin-divers for pearling companies. The women suffered through separation, rape, disease, dark and high water-pressure diving conditions because their diving skills were so desirable.
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN IN MARINE SCIENCE
Marine science is yet another field dominated by men. Throughout the 1900s women struggled to gain recognition as marine scientists. Some were successful but others were largely overlooked until recent years.
Surfing has frequently been referred to as a ‘boy’s club’. Women who wanted to be surfers in the 1900s often felt isolated from their surfing peers but they persevered and many women have achieved feats of surfing that men and other female surfers have yet to reach or surpass.