Brisbane’s HerStory Tours – REVIEW by M. Cross.
The HerStory Tour was reminiscent of that great Brisbane band, The Go-Betweens: “round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town”. It is presented by Talk of the Town (another great song) which is a “Storytelling Service”. The creator is the multi-talented and engaging Natalie Cowling who takes on the real life (albeit dead) character of Brisbane 19th Century novelist Rosa Praed.
The small group (under 10 to keep it intimate) met at the beautiful School of Arts where the first of many stories of Brisbane women in the last two centuries was told. The tour lasts for three very entertaining hours and meanders through the CBD, to the Botanic Gardens ending at Government House. It is an easy walk on the flat with frequent stops to admire statues, architecture and curiosities and to hear the little-told stories of some remarkable women.
From indigenous history, and convict times, through colonial history up to modern day female politicians, we were told of formidable women who overcame adversity to create the soul of Brisbane that we know (and love) today. The stories ranged across many fields from education (hear about the first headmistress of the “Normal School”) to science, to literature the arts and more. Many of the tales were new to me, for example, I didn’t know that Dame Nellie Melba was married in a Brisbane church. What does Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr have in common with Brisbane and WWII?
One of my favourite stops on the tour was St Stephen’s Chapel which is the oldest church in Queensland. It’s also home to the shrine of Mary MacKillop, who worshipped there from 1869 to 1871. Mary cared for destitute women and educated poor children and became Australia’s first Saint in 2010. Her faith and compassion is immortalised in the form of a glorious wooden statue.
You’ll meet other tough women with pioneering spirit if you take this tour. I highly recommend it for Brisbanites and visitors alike. It is sure to unearth hidden treasures and tales for you to share. Great value.
M. Cross is an Anywhere Theatre reviewer.