Great Townsville Women
The Village has dedicated the naming of 13 residential precincts in recognition of remarkable women who have played a role in shaping the City and region we know today.
Each of their stories are celebrated through the creation of a one-off design that embodies the spirit of their contribution.
Constance Lawrie, WAAAF plotter
0001 hours, 29 July 1942: Red Air Raid Warning. Townsville was in the front line of the steamrolling Japanese advance. Thanks to the plotting skills and alertness of Constance Lawrie, who identified an unknown aircraft as a Japanese reconnaissance flying boat, troops were mobilised.
The ‘Constance’ design is inspired by the Dowding System — the world’s first wide-area, ground-controlled interception network — used by Constance Lawrie to track the Japanese advance, with the linework specifically inspired by the wires of the headphones that plotters like Constance wore around their necks.
Catherine Colvin, our ‘Grand Old Lady’
Catherine was brought to Townsville as its first bar maid on the SS Policeman in 1865, specifically for the opening of the Criterion Hotel. She also had the privilege of being the first white woman on Magnetic Island.
The ‘Catherine’ design is inspired by Catherine Colvin’s distinction as the first white woman on Magnetic Island, utilising the outline of the island itself in an overlapping ‘ripple’ effect that reflects her journey over water.
Helga Griffin, historian and author
Helga is the author of 'Frontier Town: A History of Early Townsville' and 'Hinterland 1864-1884', which documents the City's first two decades. She weaves a tale of rapid growth, from the establishment of a port for beef export to the gold mines that saved cyclone-ravaged Townsville from decline.
The 'Griffin' design focusses on Helga's story of the near-demise of Townsville after the cyclone of 1867, which destroyed one in three buildings. The barometric pressure bars create a pattern that appears to be heavy rainfall on water.
Agnes McWhinney, Queensland's first woman solicitor
Agnes McWhinney was the first Queensland woman to be admitted as a legal practitioner in 1915 and the first female solicitor to practise in Australia. Articled to legal firm Hobbs Wilson and Ryan, Agnes undertook work of equal importance to that of her colleagues, but was paid the same as the unqualified office boy. She successfully protested to receive higher pay and spent her later married life in community service.
The 'Agnes' design is derived from the tracks of the emu, the bird represented in our Coat of Arms. As the first female solicitor in Queensland, Agnes herself is a symbol of progression and the strength of women – signified by the fact that the emu cannot walk backwards.
Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde, OAM, historian and author
Dr Gibson-Wilde has researched the history of North Queensland for over 30 years and has worked extensively with the National Trust to preserve many historic buildings. She is the author of several publications on Townsville's history, including the first referenced and published history of Townsville, 'Gateway to a Golden Land', published in 1984. She was also honoured for her service to heritage preservation in Queensland with an Order of Australia Medal.
The 'Gibson-Wilde' design is literally created out of the view from Castle Hill – featured on the cover of Dr Dorothy Gibson-Wilde's book about the area. The linework is repeated to represent different local, pastoral regions and movement through time.
Dr Diane Menghetti, Associate Professor of History
One of the first mature-age students accepted to James Cook University, Dr Menghetti received a University Medal, graduating with First Class Honours in 1980. Her work on the social history of Charters Towers earned her a doctorate and she was appointed Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Education and Social Science in 2001 and 2002.
The 'Menghetti' design reflects an aspect of Townsville history that was of particular interest to Dr Menghetti. With her focus on social, political and economic history, gold and copper mining feature heavily in her work – the Artwork describes the tracks people historically followed to the mines.
The Sisters of Mercy, tireless workers for social equity
The contributions of the Sisterhood can be seen in the many local aged-care facilities, emergency homes and schools – and in the good works of the Mercy Foundation. They have been helping care for the sick and underprivileged of Townsville since 1878.
The 'Mercy' design pays homage to the many women who have selflessly performed community service as members of the Sisters of Mercy. The bead shapes represent the Rosary beads the Sisters wore around their waists.
Anne Deane, radio personality and heritage patron
Anne joined Amalgamated Wireless Australasia in 1941 as a radio announcer, broadcasting from Bendigo, Albury, Grafton, Sydney, Cairns and finally 4TO Townsville, where her family home was Magnetic House in Flinders Street East. As the second Patron of the Townsville Branch of the National Trust, she raised large sums of money for the restoration of heritage homes.
The 'Deane' design is a tesselation of sound wave patterns, emanating from points that represent the many places from where Anne Deane's voice was broadcast.
Rose Isabell Pick, district midwife
Arriving in Brisbane from Kent in 1874 at the age of 20, Rose gained her midwifery certificate at the Lady Bowen Hospital, moving to Townsville in 1884. In practising her profession she often had to travel by stage coach, and records show that "many a mother can testify to her unswerving devotion to duty and her gentle and tender kindness."
The 'Isabell' design references the journeys that Rose Isabell Pick made as a midwife, delivering babies in peoples' homes around the Townsville region – outward lines moving in different directions from a central point. Each emanation is also a representation of birth and emergence.
Esther Keturah Milgate, community pioneer
Esther married George Henry Camp in Sydney in 1851 and moved to Townsville in 1869 with their ten children. A devoted wife and mother, renowned singer and deeply religious Methodist, Esther worked diligently for the community and organised the first Sunday School Picnic at the Sports Ground, in North Ward.
The 'Milgate' design is based on the patchwork or quilting traditionally used in the fabric of picnic blankets, commemorating Esther's pivotal role in Townsville's early community and the inauguration of the Sunday School Picnic.
Hannah Sarah Pengelly, hospital matron
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 killed between 20 and 40 million people, the most devastating epidemic in written history. In Townsville, a quarter of the population were affected, however only 18 deaths are recorded. As matron of the isolation hospital (now Belgian Gardens State School), Hannah earned the respect and admiration of all.
The 'Pengelly' design is a proliferation of triangular shapes that hark back to Hannah's brave work in the isolation hospital and recall the tents used to house the unfortunate patients.
Rose O'Reilly, entrepreneur publican
Rose married Edward O'Neill, licensee of the Racecourse Hotel at German Gardens (now Belgian Gardens). After he passed in 1873, Rose took up the licence and transferred it to the Exchange Hotel, where she made it the favourite watering hole for the people of Townsville, almost doubling the size of the operation.
The 'Rosebank' design honours the tenacity of women like Rose, who rebuilt the Exchange Hotel after a fire in 1881. The first public house in Townsville to be built of brick – as incorporated in this design – it was much admired at the time.
Olga Tarling, OAM, Australia's first female air traffic controller
The first female trainee pilot in Townsville's Aero Club, Olga overcame opposition from male colleagues to be a commercial pilot. When Southern Airlines folded in 1959, she became our first female air traffic controller. She was awarded the Nancy Bird-Walton Memorial Trophy in 1971 and the Order of Australia Medal for services to aviation in 1980.
The 'Tarling' design is inspired by Olga's first solo flight in the Tiger Moth, which she referred to as “the highlight" of her career. This linework references the movement of air through the propellors of the plane.