Hats off to our intrepid women

A FIVE day event at Glen Derwent this week acknowledges and celebrates the women, both convicts and free settlers, of early Tasmania.

The series of displays, talks and performances provide a moving insight into the experience of arrivals in Tasmania during the 65 years of convict transportation.

The celebration, which began on Sunday runs until Thursday, March 9. Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the event at Glen Derwent has free entry.

It centres on a set of women’s bonnets – now part of a global memorial project called ‘Roses from
the Heart’ – that embraces all the convict women transported to Australia.

Among those are a set identified with those aboard the Neva that sank off Tasmania in May, 1835. It was at the time Australia’s worst sea disaster, until 10 years later, when the Cataraqui sank.

Both shipwrecks occurred off King Island.

Artist and project director, Dr Christina Henri, who’s been running a weekly workshop at Glen Derwent, has also brought into the mix the work of renowned local potter Lee Farrell, as well as the Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania.

Guest speakers include historian/author Graeme Broxam and poet and author Randal Morrison. Highlights also included a high tea to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 7, with guest speakers, Liz Little, along with historian and author, Professor Lucy Frost.

Through the week, a small play about the convict lasses on the Neva is performed by Derwent Valley locals, Ruth Binny and Sharon Hutchison.

The event wraps up with a drinks party on Thursday when the guest speaker is Linda Payne, President of the King Island Lions Club. Ms. Payne will be taking the Neva lasses bonnets back to King Island.

They are to be displayed at the Schoolhouse Museum on the island.