Rockingham Museum recognises town’s pioneer women


Rockingham Museum curator Wendy Durant with the display remembering four pioneering women.
Rockingham Museum curator Wendy Durant with the display remembering four pioneering women.

WHEN you hear people talk about how much life was better in the “good old days”, spare a thought for the pioneering women of Rockingham.

Among them were Phoebe Hymus, Jane Elizabeth Bell, Lucy Harriet Saw and Margaret Simpson, who arrived in the region in the middle of the 19th century.

Museum curator Wendy Durant said they were hard-working mothers, nurses and teachers who helped establish the fledgling settlement that was a day’s rough carriage ride away from Fremantle.

“It would have been pretty rough in a horse and cart,” she said.

Mrs Saw was a nurse and provided a range of medical services, from being a midwife to mending broken limbs.

“She did everything,” Ms Durant said.

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Mrs Simpson was a school teacher who devoted her life to teaching several generations of local children.

“These women were a very important part of the colonisation of WA and Rockingham in particular,” Ms Durant said.

Their stories have been told in a new exhibition that opens at the Rockingham Museum as part of Heritage Month from April 18 to May 21.

“It was such a hard life for them. A lot of them came out from very civilised London and all of a sudden they are in the middle of the bush with nothing,” Ms Durant said.

She said there had been a lot written about what men had achieved but not much about the important roles women played in the fledgling colony.

“They had to do a wide range of jobs and their efforts have not been recognised,” she said.

Call the museum on 9592 3455.