Jockey a feminist hero
No women rode on racecourses in 1886 when Wilhemina Smith was born, but she grew up wanting to be a jockey. However, the authorities had firm restrictions, and women were not permitted to ride. To overcome this limitation, Wilhelmina dressed as a man and called herself Bill.
Jessie Couvreau ‘Tasma’ (1848-1897) trailblazer, novelist, lecturer and journalist
A ‘New Woman’ who refused to conform, Jessie Couvreau was a novelist, lecturer and Times correspondent. Writing under the pseudonym ‘Tasma’, a name she used to honour Tasmania where she spent her childhood, Jessie Couvreau wrote on issues such as politics, economics and social movements, as well as controversial issues such as divorce law reform, women’s suffrage and the abuse of women.
Madge Gormley (1914-2003) Rodeo Rebel ‘Never thrown, never injured and never beaten’
Practising on the poddies
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Hayden, near Toowoomba, Queensland, Madge Gormley (nee Krause) learnt to ride at age three. She believed riding was in her blood, although she was the only member of her family who rode. Madge started buckjump riding while “moonlighing”, or rounding up cattle at night, practising on the poddy calves.
Emma Miller, 1839-1917 Suffragette
One of Australia’s first leaders in women’s suffrage, and a major fighter for women workers’ rights, Emma Miller was the foundation president of Queensland’s Women’s Equal Franchise Association.
Emma Miller was born in Chesterfield, England, in 1839. After moving to Brisbane at age 30, she became a gentleman’s shirtmaker and became involved in union work. She campaigned for equal pay and equal opportunity for women in the workplace.
Mary Dakas (nee Paspalis) (1909-1985) Pearl Pioneer
Mary Dakas, from Broome, WA, was almost certainly Australia’s only Greek female pearl lugger operator.
Pearl Shell Industry – a male bastion
After the accidental electrocution of her second husband, Christopher Dakas, in 1948, Mary resolved to enter into the stanchly male domain of Australia’s pearl shell industry: a decision possibly tempered by her father’s and brother’s experiences in the business. The mother-of-pearl shell was highly valued for its iridescent lining and used in the manufacture of buttons, ornaments and jewellery.