Women's Museum of Australia presents the
This is a collection of stories which tell of the achievements of over 1,500 pioneering women in various fields. We are proud that our HerStory Archive brings Australian women and their achievements to light, and we hope that you enjoy discovering these inspiring women.
This archive contains more information about some women than others. As a small, not-for-profit museum, our limited resources often prevent us from collecting as much information as we would like. The information we do have, however, brings Australian women and their achievements to light. If you have additional information on any woman who features in our Herstory Archive, please contribute it here.
Born 25 September 1891, Died 4 August 1987
Also known as: Agnes Osborne
1915 — Agnes McWhinney was the first woman to be admitted as an attorney and to practice law in Queensland.
Born 30/10/1899, Died 4/2/1992
1936 — Only Speech Therapist in Australia and New Zealand.
First Speech Therapist at Spastic Centre, Mosman, New South Wales.
1981 — Appointed Member of the Order of the British…
Born 5 August 1926, Died 7 December 2001
Also known as: née Sutcliffe
First woman shire president of Lilydale, Victoria.
First and only woman commissioner of the then Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, Victoria.
1977 — Awarded the Queen’s…
Born 28 January 1909, Died 24 May 1992
Also known as: Beatrice Deloitte Bridges
Sydney art graduate, Beatrice Davis became Australia’s first full-time professional book editor when she joined Angus & Robertson in 1937.
1967 — Awarded Member of the Order…
Born 1915, Died 8/9/2008
Also known as: Nell, née Colson
Central Australian Pioneer. Matriarch of COLSON and LINES families.
“A more comprehensive narration of Nell’s life and that of her brothers, and particularly of her…
Born 20/07/1812, Died 21/10/1895
Also known as: née Twamley
1880 — First women in Australia to design a postage stamp. She sketched the platypus on a Tasmanian Duty Stamp. Two years later these stamps were authorised for postal use.…
2006 — Winner Northern Territory Westpac Business Owner award.
2009 — Selected to represent the Northern Territory on the inaugural Physiotherapy Board of Australia.…
Also known as: Irene Shackcloth
Pioneer of radio writing for children. Her first work was broadcast on ABC in 1936. Her radio serial play “The Fakamagangees” was on the air with 3DB Jean Lawson’s children’s session…
Born 1 December 1930
Also known as: Dr Bashir, Marie Shehadie, Dame Marie Bashir
From 2001 – 2009, Marie Bashir was New South Wales’ first female Governor; in 2001, she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia; from 2007 – 2012, she was the Chancellor…
Also known as: née Long, Kate
Kate was the first white woman to live at Alice Springs.
Drove the mail and passenger coach from Alice Springs to Oodnadatta when her husband was too drunk to drive.
Awarded ‘Sir ‘Weary’ Dunlop Memorial Award
1988 — Named Australian Bicentennial Young Woman of the Year
Aid Worker — dubbed ‘Australia’s Mother…
Also known as: née Sinclair, Isa
Winner of the 1985 Australian Jack-Be-Nimble Championships (Knuckle Bone (Jacks) Champion).
Born 19/12/1842, Died 16/05/1928
Also known as: née Hancock
One of the first women in Western Australia to be made a Justice of the Peace.
Settled near Mt Welcome in 1864. Her son, James, found the gold bearing stone which started the…
Born 15 March 1965
Also known as: née Buckingham, Beverley Buckingham-King, Bev
1980s — Australia’s premier female jockey. The first female jockey in the southern hemisphere to win 1000 races.
1984 — First woman to ride in the Caulfield Cup.
1995 – 1996 — Rides…
Born 11 January 1901, Died 7 May 1995
Also known as: née Rayney, Sister Ruth
First white woman to be taken by the Aborigines into ‘Ruined City’ in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
1951 — Awarded Order of the British Empire (OBE), for rowing 145…
Born 13 November 1884, Died 11 May 1962
Also known as: née Martin
1921 — First woman to drive across Australia.
Also known as: née Parker
Edith May Parker married Jack Laver after World War I. They later took up the Stuart Arms Hotel licence, and with their son Robert (Bob), travelled on the train from South Australia…
Born 11/1915, Died 09/2005
Also known as: née Schaber
Pioneer and Activist of Central Australia.1950s — Led and organized a protest march against a racist curfew in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Born 28 October 1848, Died 23 October 1897
Also known as: née Huybers, Tasma
In the early days of settlement, there were women colonists who travelled backwards and forwards between England and Australia, which in itself was something of an adventure. Some,…
Born October 1960
Chair of Council, Indigenous Advisory Council to suggest ways to curb Indigenous disadvantage.2012 — Nominated for US International Women of Courage award.
Born 1831, Died 1919
Also known as: née Field
First white woman at Stawell, Victoria, and her daughter Florence is considered the “first white child born on the gold fields”.
The Dane Memorial Seat, Stawell,…
Born 15 July 1906, Died 19 December 1996
Also known as: Bertha Rosen
1972 — Member (Civil) of The Order of the British Empire, Community.
1976 – 1977 — First woman chair of Lotteries Commission of Western Australia.
1954 – 1984 — Ms. Beecroft was a…
1983 — First observer woman posted to Queensland 1984 — First woman posted to Willis Island 1986 — First woman to winter on the Antarctic Continent for the Bureau of Meteorology 1988 -…
Born 10 March 1904, Died 1958
1931 — First woman called to bar in Western Australia.
Born 17 August 1914, Died 9 January 2009
Also known as: née Draper, Aunty Agnes
Born at Hamilton Downs and arrived in Alice Springs when one (1) week old. Lived in the children’s home behind the Stuart Arms Hotel and Jay Creek before settling at the Old…
Died 29 August 1986
Also known as: née Nicol
Written on the back of the drawing: Long-standing member, devoted worker.
“Elizabeth was known as ‘The Queen of the Barkly’ … They sold the Rankin store and moved to Alice Springs…
Born 1921, Died 23 February 2013
Also known as: Joan
First woman Australian Labor Party (ALP) member in the House of Representatives (1974)
Australia’s first woman Speaker of either House of the Federal Parliament (House of…
Born 1825, Died 19 May 1889
Also known as: née Splain
First woman on the Bendigo goldfield.
One of three women who made the Eureka flag which had first been flown as the standard of ‘The Ballarat Reform League’ on 29th…
Also known as: Judi
2000 — First woman chair of the Federation of Commercial Television Stations.
30 June 1972 — Start of private flight of 13,000 miles (75 hours) in Aztec Tango Oscar Kilo with a crew of four. Shirley being the pilot — Moorabbin, Melbourne, Victoria, to Rangoon…
Also known as: née Reid
Convict who arrived on “Lady Juliana” on 30 July 1790. Married and went to live on Norfolk Island.
Also known as: Babs
Written on the back of the drawing: Short-term member.
Born 10 November 1912, Died 12 October 2000
Australian adult educator. With the assistance of a grant, Allsop was able to attend Columbia University in New York, where she became the first Australian to obtain a doctor of…
Born 1880, Died 1966
Also known as: née Holmes, Bessie, Eveline
Teacher, land girl, pioneer. Her story (autobiography) is in file.
Australia’s first woman to gain a Dangerous Goods Licence.
Road Train Driver — Travels 250,000kms a year in a 50m rig.
Born 12/03/1912, Died 28/02/1988
1935 — Winner of the S. H. Prior Memorial Prize for her first published novel Tiburon.
1942 — Australian Literary Society gold medal for The Battlers.
1960 — Won Children’s…
Also known as: Anne
Annie Williams arrived in Alice Springs in the late 1890s. Here she married Charlie Meyers (aka Aaron Schunke), the local saddler. They had four children: Dorothy Annie, Herman John…
Born March 1933
Also known as: née Burns
She was editor of the University of Sydney student newspaper, Honi Soit, and was only the second woman to hold that title.
1972 – 1975 — Appointed as first chair of the National Social…
Also known as: Nan
An aviatrix on the museum’s Aviatrix Tapestry.
Born 25 March 1941
Also known as: Emeritus Professor Dianne Yerbury, Dr Dianne Yerbury
In 1987 Dianne Yerbury became the first female Vice-Chancellor in Australia (Macquarie University), a role she held until 2007.
She is currently the inaugural Chair of the Crescent…
Born 9 April 1908, Died 18 December 2010
Biochemist and artist. Crabtree was associated with the Melbourne University Women’s College “for almost 50 years as a graduate, resident, resident tutor, vice-principal, acting…
Awarded gold Badge and Certificate of Merit for dedicated service to Returned & Services League (RSL) (highest award to a non-RSL member).
Life Member of Alice Springs…
Born 22/02/1907, Died 16/05/2000
Also known as: Belle
1937 — First woman ordained in Victoria of any denomination.
Became first full time chaplin to Queen Victoria Hospital, which was the first time a full-time chaplin was appointed to a…
Also known as: Dr Julia Pitcher
Neurophysiologist. She and her team’s research was named among the top 10 health and medical research projects in Australia.
Born 16/10/1863, Died 18/4/1951
Also known as: Daisy May O'Dwyer
Daisy May Bates led a colourful life which included three marriages two of which are presumably bigamous and possible change/changes of name for whatever reason. Her first marrage was…
1970s — First female Property Valuer in South Australia.
Stella was an Allowera (Allyawarr) woman, Jane Webb’s trusted Allyawarr Aboriginal friend, who lived at Mount Riddock Station with the Webb family for eighteen years.She helped…
With Jean Gardiner, was the first woman to own her own aircraft (a De Soutter) which she flew on family property in Quirindi, New South Wales.
Born 19/10/1941, Died 12/11/2002
First female Woodville High School Student to gain a PhD.
First South Australian woman to gain a PhD in Organic Chemistry.
Scientist and Medical Educator.
Born 1833, Died 17 November 1893
Also known as: née Roma, Contessa Diamantina Roma, Lady Bowen
1859 — As the Governor’s wife, she became First Lady of Queensland on the separation of Queensland from New South Wales.1864 — The Lady Bowen ‘Lying In Hospital’ was…