Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Cascades and 'Louisa's Walk'....

As you head out of Hobart up to Mt. Wellington it is hard to miss the prominent historical Cascade Brewery.

It is the oldest 'continuously operating' brewery in Australia.

It is situated in The Cascades area which was named because of the nearby gardens, streams and waterfalls.

Frank has been enjoying some of the Cascade brew whilst in Tasmania....

Our best friend 'Trip Advisor' recommended 'Louisa's Walk' which is situated in the Cascades area near the brewery.

Just prior to 'Louisa's Walk' we visited the Cascade Brewery Visitor's Centre. 

Mum and Dad enjoyed a little beer tasting. The kids enjoyed chasing rabbits around the beautiful gardens and admiring the replica Tasmanian Tiger (extinct in Tasmania in 1933) that was behind the bar.

'Louisa's Walk' brings 'history to life' through 'strolling theatre'.
It is a true story of a female convict. Only the names of the story have been changed.

(2) actors relived the journey of a female convict (Louisa) from:
  • her conviction for stealing bread in England;
  • her (2) month journey to Van Dieman's Land on the Convict ship 'RAJAH';
  • the sadness of leaving behind (3) sons without a father;
  • her torturous time in the CASCADES FEMALE FACTORY;
  • her mistreatment as a servant;
  • the separation and loss of a baby girl whilst in the FEMALE FACTORY;
  • her time in solitary confinement
  • her joy at being released from the FEMALE FACTORY, getting married, and getting a good job.

It was a very unique experience to say the least.

We were included in the dialogue and we all 'strolled' down to the FEMALE FACTORY, stopping at times to listen to Louisa's experiences and her story.

The CASCADES FEMALE FACTORY opened in 1828 and housed up to 1000 people at one time (including staff).

The solitary confinement cells...

The small windows of the solitary confinement cells...

There is not alot left of the original structure of the FEMALE FACTORY.
It was sold and the private owners dismantled the majority of it.
There are some cottages nearby which are believed to be constructed of bricks from the prison.

The actors continued 'Louisa's' story inside the remains of the FEMALE FACTORY and we followed them around the remains of the building, imagining we were actually within the walls of the certain areas of the prison.

Yard One

Inside Yard One

There was plenty of hard and very sad times experienced by Louisa.

The free settler who took her from the FEMALE FACTORY treated her horribly and returned her to the prison once pregnant.

The conditions for the infants in the prison were terrible and the infant mortality rate was high. 

Their little beds were apparently ridden with fleas!!

The saddest thing was that as we walked back to the meeting point we stopped at a traffic island to give some thought to the 1000 plus babies that were buried beneath the concrete.

No memorial around, nothing!!
Very sad!!

Another very interesting person we discovered on this adventure was an English lady named ELIZABETH FRY...

This amazing lady was the driving force behind new legislation in England to make the treatment of prisoners more humane and assist the homeless.

She was the first woman to give evidence in parliament and was admired by Queen Victoria for her humanitarian efforts.

Elizabeth Fry also opened a training school for nurses and was Florence Nightingale's inspiration to commence her wartime work.

Elizabeth Fry also headed the committee that gave each of the women on the ship (The Rajah)two lbs of patchwork pieces.

The idea of this was that the ladies had something to sew with on their long (2) month journey to Van Dieman's land and an opportunity to learn new skills.

The small quilt Louisa made on the journey was sadly taken away from her when she arrived at the FEMALE FACTORY.

Another very sad part of the story...

The ladies also sewed a quilt to be returned to Elizabeth Fry in England to show their appreciation for her 'gifts' and thoughtfulness.

It is thought it did make it back to Elizabeth Fry and she did receive it which is great.
The quilt then apparently sat in an attic in Scotland for 145 years.

Because of a hand embroidered inscription of gratitude on the quilt, it's historical value was appreciated and it was returned to Australia.

The quilt now resides in the National Gallery in Canberra and is brought out on display for very limited periods of time only.

It would be great to see. Fingers crossed it is on display when we go to Canberra.

The Rajah Quilt.
What an amazing story!!!

The strolling theatre was a fabulous way to understand life in the FEMALE FACTORY for the female convicts particularly as there is very little of the prison's physical structure left.

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