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Ross Female Factory

Historic Site Conservation Plan

Parks and Wildlife Service
Department of Environment and Land Management

April 1998

The Ross Female Convict Station Historic Site Conservation Plan is available for download as three separate PDF files:

Sections 1-3 [748 KB]

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - Statement of Significance

Overall Statement of Significance

The Ross Female Convict Station Historic Site is the best surviving example of a female convict station in Australia, demonstrating the evolution and function of female factories and their role in the development of local, regional and national economies. It has outstanding potential for research enabling a deeper understanding of the convict system in Van Diemen's Land and its role in the development of the colony's economic and social structures.

Individual Statements of Significance

The Ross Female Convict Station Historic Site meets six of the seven criteria established by the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995 for inclusion in the Tasmanian Heritage Register.

Criterion (a)

The Historic Site is outstanding as the most archaeologically intact example of a female convict station in Australia.

The Historic Site demonstrates the final phase of the philosophies underpinning the incarceration of female convicts in Tasmania.

The Historic Site demonstrates the functioning of convict stations, particularly during the probation station and female factory periods.

In its fabric and through documentary sources, the Historic Site demonstrates the evolution of colonial convict stations and penal philosophy from 1833 to the cessation of transportation in 1853.

In its relationship to the district's major public works, in particular the Ross bridge and the original alignment of the Hobart to Launceston highway, the Historic Site demonstrates the importance of convict labour in the development of public infrastructure in Tasmania.

The Historic Site demonstrates the dispersal of female domestic servants to the increasingly wealthy Midlands in the mid-nineteenth century and the importance of convict labour to local, regional and national economies.

The Historic Site, in its isolated location, demonstrates the siting of convicts and convict stations beyond the margins of respectable society.

The Historic Site demonstrates the development of policing in Tasmanian rural communities in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.

The Historic Site is associated with the development of the Main Line Railway as a major transport link in the 1870s.

Criterion (b)

The Historic Site is one of very few sites both regionally and nationally to demonstrate the treatment and experiences of female convicts in Tasmania and Australia. The Historic Site is one of few male convict sites in Tasmania to demonstrate the treatment of male convicts in government work, chain and probation gangs over a thirteen year period.

Criterion (c)

The Historic Site has outstanding potential to yield fundamental information about the internal operation of a female convict station and the relationships between its occupants, both free and bonded.

The Historic Site has outstanding potential to yield fundamental information about the convict system in Tasmania and Australia, the treatment of female convicts and the life of children incarcerated during the nineteenth century.

With its attendant documentary record the Historic Site has the potential to yield fundamental information about the relationship between the convict system and the development of the Tasmanian economy and society in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Criterion (d)

The Historic Site is an outstanding example of convict sites in Tasmania and Australia, particularly female convict establishments and probation stations.

Criterion (f)

Through its convict associations the Historic Site has very strong meaning for the Australian community, locally in Ross, regionally in the State of Tasmania and nationally. In particular, it has very strong meaning for Australian women.

Criterion (g)

The Historic Site has a special association with Tasmanian convicts and the Convict Department.

The Historic Site has a special association with Dr E.S. Hall, superintendent of the female factory and later a significant figure in the development of public health in Tasmania.

The Historic Site has a special association with Dr W. Irvine, a superintendent of the female factory, whose thinking in female sexuality and physical characteristics foreshadowed later nineteenth century theorists, Lambroso, Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud.

General Conservation Policy

That the Historic Site be conserved in accordance with the principles set out in the ICOMOS Burra Charter (see Appendix 2).

That the female factory period (1847-1855) is the most significant period of the Historic Site.

That the public continue to have access to the Historic Site.

That the Historic Site be interpreted as an historic site and that no activities or developments be permitted which detract from its cultural significance.

That an interpretation plan be prepared and implemented for the Historic Site.

That the setting of the Historic Site be maintained.

That the acquisition of lands specified in Section 7.12 be investigated.