Women at the Heart

This is the story of Women at the Heart - who became our women of the heart - those born here and those who came to the centre of this vast dry continent Australia, and stayed.

This is also a story of women with heart, when ‘heart’ is used to embrace not only courage, endurance, resilience and resourcefulness, but also companionship and compassion. 


Explore the stories of the women of Central Australia: the friendships, the joys, and the hardships. They were women like us:  mothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters, with strengths, weaknesses, joys, and fears. These are not the only stories that could be told, but they start to give an idea of our much-treasured heritage.


Our story on these panels has been taken to the 1940s, to show a period of time loosely accepted today as the “pioneering” era, when challenges were met and foundations built that are now taken for granted. Of course, the story never ends but continues to grow through individual stories, honoring those women well-known and those little-documented, who precede us:  our Women at the Heart.

Radio Series

Life in Central Australia is a tough, isolated existence, and for women in decades past confined by the gender roles of their era, the challenges were enormous. Bringing up children, trying to cook nutritious meals, and running households thousands of kilometres from family and friends meant these women had to make the most of what was available to them. The concept of feminism, as we know it today, was not one society recognised, but these tenacious and resilient pioneers certainly left their mark.  

The stories of some of these women are told in a collaboration between the museum and 783ABC. You can listen to stories about:

  • Molly Clark, as told by her granddaughter Meegan Sullivan in conversation with Dianna Newham (museum) and Alice Moldovan (783ABC)
  • Tilly Johannsen, in a conversation between Dianna Newham and Alice Moldovan
  • Tellka Williams, in conversation with Alice Moldovan (Part One and Part Two)
  • Marge Harris, as told by her son Roger Harris in conversation with Dianna Newham and Alice Moldovan (Part One and Part Two)
  • Bertha Strehlow, in a conversation with local writer Leni Shilton (Parts One, Two, Three and Four).