Cascades Female Factory

Of the 25,000 women transported to Australia, around half were sent to Van Diemen’s Land. Most spent time in the grim, isolated and overcrowded Cascades Female Factory, located in a cold, swampy valley upstream from Hobart. All that remains of the original establishment are the stone-walled yards which, from 1828 to 1856, convict women were imprisoned, found protection, awaited employment or sheltered to give birth. 


Convict Yards

The site comprises three of the original five compounds (or yards) of Cascades Female Factory which accommodated, punished and aimed to reform female convicts. Cascades is an example of the use of penal transportation to expand Britain’s geo-political spheres of influence, as well as to punish criminals, deter crime in Britain and reform female convicts. The site is also associated with the rise of segregated prisons for female criminals during the 19th century. The Factory was in an isolated location, hidden from the main colony at the bottom of a cold valley. The original infrastructure of the Factory made it almost totally self-sufficient. The site included a hospital, nursery, laundries, cook houses, offices, administrators’ apartments, separate convict apartments, solitary cells, assorted workshops, stores and a church. 


The Site Today

Today, the site comprises three adjoining yards (Yards 1, 3 and 4), the Matron’s Cottage (Yard 4) and substantial ruins of a perimeter wall. Each yard is approximately 60 metres long and around 42 metres wide. The height of the perimeter wall varies throughout each yard with a maximum height of 5.5 metres. The yards were successively developed as the population of female convicts increased. The layout of the site reflects the different treatment and conditions between the classes of convicts.


The Matron's Cottage

The Matron’s Cottage is a single-storey brick residence with its original four rooms. There are also extensive surface and sub-surface archaeological remains of convict era buildings and structures. The Cascades Female Factory Archaeological Collection comprises over 2,000 artefacts, some of which are on display in the Matron’s Cottage.



Cascades Female Factory

Address: 16 Degraves St, South Hobart, Tasmania 7004

Telephone:  1800 139 478