Women's role in the history of Fremantle recognised at Heritage Awards

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 19-6-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



Research into the important role that women have played in early colonial and wartime Fremantle has won recognition for two students from The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus at the City of Fremantle/Town of East Fremantle 2012 Heritage Awards held in May.

PhD student, Madison Lloyd-Jones, was awarded first place in the category of 'unpublished work' at the Awards ceremony for her research into the experiences of Fremantle's 'homefront heroines and "Hollywood heroes"' during World War II.

2011 Graduate, Toni Church, was awarded second place in the same category for her honours studies about the history of Fremantle women in the decade which followed British colonisation of the Swan River in 1829.

Associate Professor Deborah Gare, a lecturer in History in the School of Arts and Sciences at the Fremantle Campus, supervised the research undertaken by both students. She said she was delighted that the work of "two fine, early-career scholars" had been recognised by the prestigious awards.

"Madison and Toni have uncovered extraordinary stories about the history of women in Fremantle," Assoc Prof Gare said.

"I am proud that their projects can contribute meaningfully to the City's heritage and its community."

Ms Lloyd-Jones' topic for her PhD in History is Fremantle women and the impact of the American servicemen that passed through Fremantle 1942-45. During this period, an Allied submarine base was situated in the Fremantle port and Ms Lloyd-Jones' research looks at the city's home front and the extent to which the presence of American servicemen shaped it.

Her passion for unearthing and sharing Fremantle's history with the local community has seen Ms Lloyd-Jones become a popular speaker during the City of Fremantle's annual Heritage Festival. She is also a committee member of the Fremantle History Society.

"Fremantle is an extremely interesting city because of the preservation of so many iconic buildings," Ms Lloyd-Jones said.

"The Heritage Festival is an indication of Fremantle's continuing interest in their unique local history. At the most recent festival, I was able to connect with several of my audience members who were more than willing to share their fantastic stories as young women in the port city, some of whom became young war brides.

"Studying at Notre Dame in combination with a Fremantle-focused PhD project has allowed me the unique opportunity to connect with the period and stories I am constantly learning about from the war period."

Ms Church is currently employed with the Maritime Museum in Fremantle where she relishes the opportunity to learn more about the city's heritage every day.

She said the title of her honours thesis: 'Sand and skirts: a study of British women in Early Colonial Fremantle 1829-39' was spawned from a mental image of women arriving from Britain on a hot Australian day looking to create a new life which was vastly different from that back home.

"Because much of Western Australian history has typically been about 'great' people who have achieved 'great' things, there was little information about the experiences of British women during that time. That was a huge challenge for me in conducting my research," Ms Church said.

"Completing this project has delivered a sense of self-validation to have achieved my goal of contributing something meaningful to the Fremantle community.

"I have lived in Fremantle my whole life, so to go back through time and learn about the birthplace of my home city and the important roles women played in the fledgling years of colonisation was amazing."

Both of the student projects developed from research the University is currently undertaking into the history of women in Fremantle.

The University of Notre Dame Australia is seeking contributions and personal stories from members of the community about women and their families in Fremantle. To contribute to this research or to receive further information about the project, please email fremantlehistory@nd.edu.au.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093