Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives

An exhi­bi­tion cel­e­brat­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of Aus­tralian women in forg­ing path­ways for women and girls to achieve equal­i­ty and excellence.

Julia Gillard, Aus­trali­a’s first woman Prime Min­is­ter (20102013)

Pho­tog­ra­ph­er: Sophie Deane
Image cour­tesy Julia Gillard



The exhi­bi­tion Ordi­nary Women, Extra­or­di­nary Lives focus­es on over a cen­tu­ry of Aus­tralian women break­ing new ground, from those first per­mit­ted ter­tiary edu­ca­tion in the 1870s to the first female ordained priests in the 1990s enter­ing one of soci­ety’s last male-dom­i­nat­ed strongholds. 

These are just some women of Aus­tralia who were first in their field and have paved the way for future gen­er­a­tions of girls and women to choose their areas of inter­est and fear­less­ly pur­sue them.

Pro­filed women also include those who make a sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the lives of all Australians.

Cat­e­gories include Arts, Sci­ence, Law, Med­i­cine, Film, Sport, Edu­ca­tion, Mil­i­tary, Avi­a­tion, Engi­neer­ing, Busi­ness, Tech­nol­o­gy, Reli­gion, Adven­ture, Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vice, Finance, Jour­nal­ism, Vet­eri­nary Sci­ence, Activism, Min­ing, Gas­tron­o­my, Trans­porta­tion, Farm­ing and Politics.

Infor­ma­tion about these women can also be accessed by search­ing online in the Wom­en’s Muse­um of Aus­tralia Her­Sto­ry Archive.

Ruby Payne Scott

1912 — 1981

Ruby was a high­ly regard­ed pio­neer in radio-physics and and was Aus­trali­a’s first female radio astronomer. She was a teacher, bush walk­er, moth­er and fierce wom­en’s rights advocate.

Read Her­Sto­ry  here

Lis­ten to Her­Sto­ry here



The Wom­en’s Muse­um of Aus­tralia has part­nered with Alice Springs radio sta­tion 102.1 8CCC FM to cre­ate a series which cel­e­brates Aus­tralian wom­en’s achieve­ments and con­tri­bu­tions to Aus­tralian History. 

Click HERE to learn more and lis­ten to wom­en’s sto­ries including:

Dr Joce­lyn Davies

Enid Har­land

Tel­ka Williams

Ros­alie Kunoth-Monks

Quentin Bryce

Kaye Kess­ing

Clare Mar­tin

Mar­guerite Baptiste-Rooke

Irene Nan­gala

Iso­bel Nampitjin­pa Gorey

Julie Ross

Ruby Payne Scott

Elaine Kng­war­raye Peckham

Eliz­a­beth Blackburn

Les­ley Oldfield

Nova Peris

Mol­ly Clark

Infor­ma­tion about these women can also be accessed by search­ing online in the Women’s Muse­um of Aus­tralia Her­Sto­ry Archive.


Staff and vol­un­teers at Wom­en’s Muse­um of Aus­tralia have become skilled in script­ing, audio record­ing and edit­ing, and the audio sto­ries we have cre­at­ed are also now avail­able at the exhi­bi­tion so you can lis­ten as you walk around and learn about and be inspired by all the sto­ries of these pio­neer women.

A big thanks to Joy Tay­lor from 102.1 8CCC FM for all her hard work and sup­port in devel­op­ing this great series.

8CCC FM Com­mu­ni­ty Radio for co — devel­op­ing and host­ing the series.

We acknowl­edge the sup­port of the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry Gov­ern­ment, Com­mu­ni­ty Broad­cast­ing Foun­da­tion and Women in Adult and Voca­tion­al Education.