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It's A Riot at the Parramatta Female Factory

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by Gary Brown (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer and photographer from Sydney who has now had five books published on fishing. I also write for the NSW Fishing Monthly, Visit the Shire, Fisho App & Tackle Tactics. I also like to travel and experience new things to do.
Catch up on history at Parramatta Female Factory
No, it's not really a riot, but you have been given the rare opportunity to explore the glorious Governor Macquarie & Francis Greenway site, which was once home to at least 5,000 of the 24,960 convict women transported to Australia.

On Friday the 28th of October the Parramatta Female Factory Friends is giving the people of Australia the rare opportunity to explore this glorious site.

Plenty to see and do at the Parramatta Female Factory. Image courtesy of the PFFF.

It's estimated 1-7 Australians are descendants of the women of the Female Factory. So what was a convict female factory woman?

They were women who were simply convicts transported to Sydney for various reasons and who spent time in a convict female factory. This may simply have been because they were not assigned at the docks on arrival or it may be because they committed a secondary offence in the colony.

Parramatta Female Factory Entrance c1870. Courtesy of the Society of Australian Genealogists.

The Parramatta Convict Female Factory we see today is the earliest convict women's site in Australia still in existence.

On Governor Macquarie's initiative it was designed by Francis Greenway and it was a model for other convict female factories.
It was a hospital, a place of assignment to service in the NSW colony, a location to request a wife, a place of secondary punishment, and a factory producing colonial cloth.

Parramatta Female Factory by Amiel Dizon. Courtesy of

Maybe you had a relation who resided at the Parramatta Female Factory?

This site was built by convict men for convict women and the children who were with them. It is a story of families and it is the site of possibly the first female workers' riot in Australia (1827) and one of the earliest factories in the colony.

These women brought over 180 trades with them and became the business women, farmers, workers, teachers and mothers of our nation.

The third class sleeping quarters. Image courtesy of the PFFF.

So on Friday the 28th of October the Parramatta Female Factory Friends invite you to come along and help them celebrate & commemorate the Parramatta Riot – a day when the women "downed tools" and broke out for freedom into Parramatta Town in 1827.

You can join a guided tour of the site with its beautiful sandstone buildings, hear the inspiring & touching stories of the women's lives, and learn about their survival and legacy.

Book to join one of the tours. Image courtesy of the PFFF

Registration will start from 9:30am and they will have tours at 10am and 2pm. You will need to secure your place in these tours by booking a spot.

Last year 10 tours (am and pm) were run, which attracted over two hundred people.

They will be taking bookings for the talk and tours from the 1st October 2016. Please contact (02) 9639 0140. These tours are not to be missed.

Augustus Earle. Courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

There will be an Official Opening at 11:45pm and the Guest Speaker, Meg Keneally - a factory woman's descendant and co-author with Tom Keneally of The Soldier's Curse - will speak at 12pm.

The Soldier's Curse is a fast-paced, witty and gripping historical crime series that is set in the Port Macquarie penal settlement for second offenders, at the edge of the known world where gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat hungers for freedom. Hugh was originally transported for forging documents passing himself off as a lawyer and is now the trusted clerk of the settlement's commandant. The story line has a poisoning and someone is arrested for murder and could possibly be hanged. But, who is the real killer? Only time will tell.

There will also be a number of trade tables where you can buy things and find out more information about whether you have any relatives who were at the Parramatta Female Factory. They are as follows:

Come along and visit one of the trade table at It's a Riot. Image courtesy of the PFFF.

• The Parramatta & District Historical Society.
• Friends of St John's cemetery.
• Janet Grundy bookseller.
• The Friends' information and sales.
• The latest Parramatta Female Factory Women Index.

Where: At the Historic Parramatta Female Factory site at Cumberland Hospital, Fleet Street, North Parramatta.

Transport: Shuttle Bus from Parramatta Station – nearest drop off point is Parramatta Leagues Club. A short walk up to Fennel St and walk down to Fleet Street. Off street parking is limited.

This event is generously sponsored by The Parramatta Leagues Club.

Whatever your connection may or may not be to the Parramatta Female Factory they welcome your involvement whether it is as a friend of the factory, sharing the stories about the Parramatta Female Factory, or celebrating this part of our heritage at one of their tours or events.

Friends of the Parramatta Female Factory. Image courtesy of the PFFF

A full house at the 2015 It's a Riot. Image courtesy of the PFFF.

Come, help them celebrate & commemorate the Parramatta Riot.

For further information you can follow then on Facebook, or visit their website or email them at
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Why? An annual event to learn more about what happened at the Parramatta Female Factory.
When: 9.30am to 3.30pm
Phone: For bookings (02) 9639 0140 from the 1st of October
Where: Cumberland Hospital, Fleet Street, North Parramatta.
Cost: A gold coin donation.
Your Comment
Fascinating history, thanks for sharing,I'll see if I can get along to the tour.
by Faye (score: 3|1124) 788 days ago
Foodi Photoh Classie
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