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February, 2018

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Petticoats and Saddlebags: Timelines of early women explorers, 1700 -1900

Date/Time: Wednesday, 21 February 2018 - Friday, 30 March 2018

Location: Barr Smith Library, Reading Room, Level 2

Cost: Free: All Welcome

More information: Visit website

This exhibition showcases the achievements of several female explorers who, in spite of the perceived limitations of their gender, set out to explore new lands and cultures. From the palaces of Constantinople to the jungles of Brazil, over land and sea, they set out by their own means whether for personal benefit, or out of a desire to help others.

Armed with their determination and letters of introduction (and the occasional revolver) they were considered the earliest travel writers, tracing their journeys in notes and letters to family and friends back home, observing foreign cultures through a significantly different lens to the men who came before them.

The journeys of the four women featured in this exhibition influenced many future adventuresses and challenged the way many viewed not only the world around them, but the roles of women in the modern age.

The women highlighted in this exhibition are:
◾Lady Mary Wortley Montague (1689 -1762) who travelled to Constantinople (now Istanbul) with the intent of learning more about a rumoured cure for the deadly smallpox
◾Ida Pfeiffer (1979 -1861) who set out after the death of her husband to follow her dreams of seeing the world
◾Marianne North (1830 -1890) who travelled with the goal to illustrate plants from each country of the world
◾Isabella Lucy Bird (1931 -1904), the first woman to be inducted into the Royal Geographical Society thanks to her extensive exploration and subsequent publications

An interactive map of their travels is available on the Rare Books & Special Collections website.

Contact: Ms Cheryl Hoskin, Email:, Special Collections Librarian, Business: (08) 8313 5224