About the Parramatta Female Factory Action Group

The Parramatta Female Factory Action Group is a community group with the aim to have the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct returned to the people of Australia. This Precinct includes the Parramatta Female Factory, Catholic Orphan School and Girls Industrial School.


The Parramatta Female Factory precinct (including the third class sleeping quarters and yard) should be returned to the people of Australia and managed by a government body with the expertise and mission to conserve and interpret this site for the people of Australia in accordance with the guidelines of the Burra Charter.

At this time the third class sleeping quarters, turnkeys apartment and third class yard are at serious risk.


The Parramatta Convict Female Factory we see today was a Governor Macquarie initiative. Of the 24,960 transported women an estimated 9,000 went through the factory system of which approximately 5,000 went through the Parramatta Female Factory. If this is multiplied by the generations and number of children, this means that an estimated 1 in 5 to 1 in 7 Australians are related the female factory women.

This factory predates all but 3 of the UNESCO world heritage listed items. It needs heritage preservation. It is now cleared out and work is underway for an IT data room.

In the past there has been application for access and although it was inadequate it was possible. 

 Given that there are only 2 identified images in national collections of these women and few objects provenance to these women directly the site is even more critical to understanding the experience of these women. The third class sleeping quarters and turnkey’s apartment with the 2 Greenway buildings are the last intact buildings on the mainland relating to convict women’s incarceration.

There is an exhibition Women Transported – Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories travelling 4 states which has had visitation from over 30,000 people. A petition has been circulating put out by Parramatta’s State Member Tanya Gadiel with 2,432 signatures. She has presented a private members statement to State Parliament about the site. Julie Owens, Parramatta’s Federal Member, has also acknowledged its importance on two occasions in National Parliament.

This Female Factory Site is on the Register of National Estates, State Heritage Register, Heritage Branch database( all statutory and local environment plan heritage lists), Section 170 register of the NSW Department of Health, National Trust Inventory.

See right sidebar for link to blog comments to add your own and find other site links.

The ‘at risk’ third class sleeping quarters site as it has been

Parramatta Third Class Sleeping Quarters and Yard     

The at risk  sleeping quarters now

  The Third Class Sleeping Quarters and yard December 2010      


28 Responses to About the Parramatta Female Factory Action Group

  1. Lynette Twist says:

    Don’t break the hearts of the women of 2011 as was done to the women of 1801

  2. Ailsa Evans says:

    This sight is of significants to so many Australians, as many of us have female relations who spent time in this institution. It is one of the few remaining sites dating back to our convict beginings and must be preserved at all costs so that future generations can visist and get an appreciation of what our female forebears went through and how they lived.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:

      The sentiments of so many of us. That is what really concerns me – that it is one of the few remaining sites and belongs to all of us.

  3. warren fahey says:

    It takes a threat to provoke action so, in some ways, this is a good thing as people are now aware of this important part of our early colonial story. I have recorded a traditional song about the Female Factory. It is on my recent ABC Music CD series and also available as an individual iTunes download as ‘ Currency Lasses’. The song even mentions some of the oreigianl carers. Another disappearing part of our fragile folklore.
    Good luck in preserving the ‘Factory’ as those walls could tell some astounding stories.
    Warren Fahey

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:

      Thanks for the good wishes and keeping some of the musical history alive. Will have to seek out your CD

  4. Gail says:

    If not for the strength, courage and “will to survive” of these women, many of us would not be here today enjoying this wonderful country. My forebears do not have headstones in a graveyard, however when I visited the Female Factory I felt very close to them. This place should be maintained as their monument.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:

      They formed so much of what we think of as the Australian Character. That will to survive adversity is currently being seen in the Queensland floods but we don’t often think to attribute it to these women.

  5. Anne Dakin says:

    Our nation of strong and resilient people was born in places such as the Female Factory. We cannot let such important history be destroyed.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      We agree at the FFPAG. This resilience is taken for granted but as we see daily in ordinary livesit lives on. if the Parramatta Female Factory was not at risk and was avaliable to everyone we would have a chance to understandthe lives of these women and our own.


  6. Rosemarie Temple-Smith says:

    It’ beggars belief that with all the vacant premises around they have to destroy something of significant historical value to put computers in! Years ago we fought to keep such wonders as the Marble Bar and the State theatre from being destroyed so enough people protesting will also keep this site unadulterated.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      Yes together we have a chance. Fell free to share the petition site wit has many as you can. That’s a start.


  7. As manager’s of the Ross Female Factory site in Tasmania, it seems incomprehensible that this area is not already preserved for the heritage it represents. Our female factory was demolished in the 1890’s when the value of Australia’s convict heritage was not considered. The foundations of the Ross site remain and great effort has been made achaeologically to uncover the stories of the women incarserated. Thousands visit the site annually. How fortunate the city of Parramatta is to still have their buildings and the links they provide to it’s foundation as a society. I’m sure it would not be remembered as an IT centre!

    Debra Cadogan-Cowper
    Tasmanian Wool Centre, Ross

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      Thank you for your support. The fate of Ross Female Factory puts our current plight in perspective. Each convict female factory tells a different story, each important in its own way. I know when I was developing the exhibition Women Transported information from Ross also helped the understanding of what was happening elsewhere. I think many are unaware that there were 13 factories. They do form one of the foundations of our society -so well put Debra. It definitely won’t be remembered for being an IT room!

      As I have commented in other places they would not put an IT room in the centre of Hyde Park Barracks or Port Arthur so why Parramatta Female Factory!


  8. Gayle says:

    We need to save this historical site alongside of the Kings School Site which is also being threatened to be turned over to private enterprise. How true is the comment “Our nation of strong and resilient people was born in places such as the Female Factory”. Never has it been so important to preserve our history and not let it be destroyed.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:

      Yes we have such wonderful historic buildings in Parramatta like th Kings School and the Female Factory. here’s hoping we ca ngive both back to ordinary people like you and me and the other 20,0000,000 people of Australia


  9. Vicki Edge says:

    The Female FactoryPrecint along with the Old Kings School are part of our history and should be preserved for future generations so they may be aware of the hardships suffered.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:

      both these places are an important part of our history and important to our present lives.


  10. Anne Kennedy says:

    Please save this historical site. I have just read a great book and the Parramatta Female School was sometimes a great respite for those early women from the harsh working conditions those eary immigrants had to contend with, between being relocated to new masters. A marriage parade was held and men looking for wives where allowed in to inspect the stock . those poor women!!!!!

  11. Marilyn Wood says:

    This site has so much potential to be used appropriately in coming generations as a great historical, educational and tourist resource. We should be honouring the memory and heritage of our founding mothers, not trashing the physical remains of a site that keeps their experience alive for all of us here today, especially those who are descendants of these women.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      Absolutely – respecting and honouring their memory is well overdue. We can learn so much more. The convict female factory at Parramatta is such an important part of the story and the learning.


  12. Michele Weymouth says:

    Once again we destroy our heritage. I visited South Australia recently and was pleased to see the beautiful old houses and other sites that have been preserved and opened to the public.
    We people of New South Wales have allowed too many of our sites to be demolished.
    I will be e-mailing my friends and asking them to sign this petition, as unless they live in the Parramatta area, most would not be aware of the fate of the buildings.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      Thank you for sharing your passion. The more that sign the petition the better.


  13. Julie Appleton says:

    To be able to walk within the walls of a building that housed our ancestors is a luxury, and to be able to take our children and grandchildren there in due course would be such a thrill. As someone already said there are plenty of empty buildings around – choose another – and leave this precious site to the people. To maintain the Female Factory is honoring the endeavours of those who became the very foundation of our country. To destroy its simplicity and restrict, if not prohibit any public access reveals lack of forward thinking and an act of incredible ignorance.

    • femalefactoryprecinctactiongroup says:


      So well said. This is just why we need to give the site back to all Australians.


  14. Merle Clark says:

    I visited the site today and was horrified at what was left. I understand the rawness and the shame in my parent’s generation but now is the time to wake up and embrace the mothers of our nation, to learn from the past and cherish the remnat that is left. Let’s honour and respect those who were used and abused, there is no shame. The disempowered were sent here to build a nation and build it they did. We all know that ‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world’. I love my country and I am prowd to be the 5X great grand daughter of one who did the hard yards in making Australia what it is today

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