Thomas Yardley Lowes was allocated 20 acres of land in 1823 by Tasmanian Governor Sorell, and T.Y. Lowes & Co. Distillery was born. You got it, where The Cascade Women’s Factory stood from 1826, was originally a Distillery.
You see, Thomas left England with the equipment and money to start a Distillery, as not a single Distillery existed in Tasmania, otherwise known as Van Diemen’s Land, when he set sail. By the time he had arrived, acquired his land and built the required buildings, there were 16 other distilleries in operation. This fact, plus other economic decisions by the government, made Thomas’s venture fail and in 1926 when the Government was calling for buildings and land to house female prisoners, he took his opportunity to offload his failure and make some money. He sold to the government and walked away, leaving the place to be turned into a place of horror, fear and much depression.
Step forward into today, and you will find a place that is amazing for us now, as while much of the original buildings are no longer in existence, and most has been redeveloped into modern day housing and a child care facility, it is a place that holds so much history. A place where you can learn about the women who were sent to Tasmania as sinners, who were treated to some of the most inhumane conditions known to mankind, women who had to learn to communicate in a world where they were not to talk, not to be heard and who were considered less than human.
Now, we could tell you all about the history of this place, the horrors that these women faced – such as the class system used to classify prisoners, the babies born there who rarely made a sound or even the horrors of being punished for falling pregnant when raped by those who they served – but in all honesty this is a place that needs to be visited, experienced and explored.
This is Australian History that cannot be brushed over, cannot be forgotten and should not be forgotten. This is history that our children can learn from, history that as adults we can learn from and is significant to all of us.
We did the information tour, and the tour guide was very passionate about the women who served their time here. He was open about the horrors these women faced and he didn’t shy away from questions asked about the premises, the treatment of the women the fact that these women were sinned against and not the sinners.
We also took in the live show called “Her Story”. While many facts were repeated, it was done in an audience participation type play. The kids got a greater understanding of the times, how hard they were and the emotion involved in being caged in a place with no dignity.
If you are in Hobart, this is a place you must visit. It is the only female prison from convict times that is Heritage listed on the national Trust. You will walk away with an appreciation of current times.