It's A Riot 2023

It's A Riot 2023


Posted 2023-10-10 by Gary Brownfollow
It's on again on Friday the 27th of October at the National Heritage Parramatta Female Factory site, 5 Fleet Street, North Parramatta, opening at 9:00am.

Join us as we commemorate the day 196 years ago, in October 1827, when the convict women, hungry and fed up with the reduction in rations and their appalling living conditions, broke out of the Factory and Penitentiary onto the streets of Parramatta town ’like Amazonian Banditti...pouring forth ‘as bees from a hive...’ alarming all before them! Parramatta was in uproar.

Parramatta Female Factory. Photo courtesy of Bob Cook.

Events include a "Commemoration at the Bicentenary Commemorative Wall" commencing at 11:30am. A lone piper plays, we will remember the convict women whose lives were cruelly impacted by forced removal from their homelands and kin, through transportation - floral tributes will be laid.

You can walk in the convict women’s footsteps and hear their stories with tours at 10am and 1:30pm which will include rare access to one of the three Factory period buildings on site - the haunting 3rd Class Penitentiary (c1823-1826), still resounding to the echo of rock breaking and the convict women’s chatter!

Don't forget to book in for one of the tours.

Ordinary women! Extraordinary Lives! Photo courtesy of Bob Cook.

"The Annual Thomas Keneally Lecture (12.30pm)" will be delivered this year by eminent members of the Sisters of Charity Congregation, Sr Margaret Fitzgerald RSC and Sr Genevieve Walsh RSC who will focus on the lives of the five Sisters of Charity who arrived in the Colony in December 1828 who began their ministry at the Parramatta Female Factory with the convict women and their children in January, 1839.

Sales! Displays! Tours!

The Friends Rooms will be open all day for research enquiries, information and sales tables, Factories models display and the Matron Gordon pop up café serving tea, scones and coffee.

The Female Factory and its buildings served the Colony as a place of confinement, a labour exchange, a place of textile manufacture, a marriage bureau, female incarceration and a place from where children of convict women were forcibly removed. It also provided barrack accommodation (1821-1848).

The 3rd Class Sleeping Quarters & Penitentiary - 1823 - 1826 -the seat of the unrest and Riot 7am, Saturday, 27th October 1827. photographs courtesy Gay Hendriksen

The convict women came from diverse social and cultural backgrounds: An estimated 56.5% came from Ireland; 5.1% from Scotland; 33.1% from England; 1.5% from Wales and 1.4% from outside Britain including the British Colonies of Guyana and Mauritius.

The stories of hope, resilience and survival held in this place, are stories that go to the heart of the Australian Identity - it is a place of significant history with an estimated 1 in 7 Australians descended from these women.

3rd Class (c1823) External. photographs courtesy Gay Hendriksen.

The hidden and often untold stories of the female convicts of Parramatta is truly a National story - it is " HISTORY-HERSTORY-OUR STORY"


  • The Parramatta Female Factory is the earliest and most intact female convict site across the Nation - work commenced on 9th July 1818 and was completed by February 1821.

  • The Parramatta Female Factory was commissioned by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and plans were drawn up by Francis Greenway, convict architect.

  • The Parramatta Female Factory was the model for another 13 female factories built in the colony - which included Bathurst, Port Macquarie, Moreton Bay, Hobart and Launceston in
  • Tasmania.

    Two of the three original buildings - Matron’s Quarters and Hospital - Greenway designed c1818. photographs courtesy Gay Hendriksen.

  • The Parramatta Female Factory site is older than the Cascades Female Factory World Heritage Listed site in Tasmania.

  • Of the 24,960 convict women transported, research shows that close to 10,000 women including convict and free, passed through the Parramatta Female Factory and its Hospital (lying-in) which provided the first health service for women in the colony.

  • The National significance of the Parramatta Female Factory & Institutions Precinct was acknowledged in November 2017 when it was placed on the National Heritage Register.

  • Today the site has three colonial Georgian buildings of the convict period 1818 -1848 as well as mid to late Victorian period Asylum buildings which are now occupied by Cumberland Hospital, NSW Health and other tenants including the Parramatta Female Factory Friends, which is housed in the Francis Greenway Matron’s Quarters and Administration building (c1818).

  • Matron’s Quarters - photographs courtesy Gay Hendriksen

    Significantly, on Thursday, 28 September 2023, the Federal and NSW State Government announced that the Parramatta Female Factory & Institutions Precinct had been placed on the Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage consideration in acknowledgement of this rare and important Australian site (c1818 - 2023) and to ensure its future preservation.

    Long Shot wall

    The Parramatta Female Factory site is a singular and most significant National Heritage site and a crucible of Australian history and therefore must be conserved into the future.

    NSW Government plans include further restoration and conservation/future adaptive re-use of the Colonial and Victorian buildings, ensuring public access with an immersive museum experience.

    The tours are very popular, so don't forget to book your spot. Photo courtesy of Bob Cook.

    NOTE: BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL" - FOR TOURS ($10+ booking fee) ) & TALK ($5+ booking fee)

    Go to our Facebook for link to Eventbrite:


    265988 - 2023-10-10 00:25:40


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