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The Harbour Trust Celebrates Women's History Month

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5 min read
Australian Women’s Army Service personnel, Plotting Room, North Fort, 1944, Eric Charles (photographer). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.
To celebrate Women's History Month (1 - 31 March), the Harbour Trust will be highlighting the inspirational and iconic women that have contributed to the stories of our protected sites...

Read on to view our collection heroines of DigiTales by knowledgeable Harbour Trust volunteers, acquainting you with historical and contemporary figures synonymous with our heritage places on Sydney Harbour.

About this image: In August 1941, the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) began filling key wartime positions at North Fort –  including the underground Plotting Room facility – after being authorised by the government to “release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units”.    

Libby Bennett: The Heritage Architect

Libby Bennett, Director of Projects, is an award-winning heritage architect who has worked for the Harbour Trust since the agency’s inception. Over the past two decades, she has guided the delivery of important heritage conservation and restoration works across our network of protected sites on Sydney Harbour.

Brigadier Gallasch: Barrier-breaking Serviceperson

Brigadier Dianne Gallasch has the distinction of being one of the final graduates of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps (WRAAC) School at Georges Heights in Mosman. In fact, Gallasch came first in her class and, in 2013, became the first female commandant of Duntroon, which had at one time prohibited women.

Sandra Hall: Veteran volunteer

In the 20 years since the Harbour Trust was established, our heritage places on Sydney Harbour have emerged as rich sources of intrigue and exploration, beloved by many Australians. For their role in making our destinations synonymous with Sydney, we owe a debt of gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers who have generously shared their time, knowledge and passion.

Annie Egan: A life sacrificed to duty

Between 1881 and 1925, more than 240 people were interred at the Third Quarantine Cemetery at North Head Sanctuary in Manly, having succumbed to epidemic and pandemic diseases. In this DigiTale, volunteer Michele Harper celebrates a notable occupant of the historic cemetery. Annie Egan contracted Spanish Flu in 1918 while nursing at the North Head Quarantine Station and her fight for religious freedoms, during her final days, captivated the nation.

Mary Ann Bugg: Breakout mastermind

As the old saying goes, ‘behind every great man is a great woman’; however, in the case of bushranger Fredrick Ward and his First Nations wife Mary Ann Bugg, it could be argued the latter was always a few steps ahead. Ward, better known as Captain Thunderbolt, is one of Cockatoo Island’s most famous convicts and a celebrated Australian folk hero. Here, Harbour Trust volunteer Karyn Johnson makes a case for why Bugg is entitled to a fairer share of her husband’s thunder.

Patricia Talberg: Gunner, 'somewhere in Australia'

In August 1941, the government authorised the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) to fill key positions at North Fort – a military base at North Head, Manly, that was crucial to Sydney’s coastal defences. In this DigiTale, Harbour Trust volunteer Glyn sheds light on the role his late mother – Patricia Evans née Talberg – served at North Fort, including a facility shrouded in secrecy: The Plotting Room.