LADIES' GAME: Gleny Rae and Ilona Harker star in  The Daughters of the Rum Rebellion .
LADIES' GAME: Gleny Rae and Ilona Harker star in The Daughters of the Rum Rebellion . contributed

Ladies with a dangerous attitude at Artstate Lismore

THERE are three well-known female Australian Bushrangers: Morriana (aka Yellilong, but her Western name was Mary Ann Bugg), an Aboriginal woman who rode with Captain Thunderbolt; Mary Cockerill aka Black Mary, another Aboriginal woman who rode with Michael Howe; and Elizabeth Jessie Hickman who ran her own gang in the area which is now covered by the Wollemi National Park in NSW.

Were there more? What were their lives like? Where are their stories?

In early 2017, musicians Gleny Rae and Byron Shire's Ilona Harker went on a trip out west NSW, Ms Harker said.

"As you know the outback is bloody big and we got to talking," she said.

"We fancied ourselves intrepid female pioneers and rugged bush women, driving along a sealed road with air-con and fancy cheeses that Gleny made for the trip."

At Bourke, under the influence of some bubbly and the 40 degree heat, they found online a reference to three female bushrangers, so the show was born.

The Daughters of the Rum Rebellion is a musical theatre production that reveals the hidden history of Australia's female bushrangers, starring Rae and Harker.

This theatre show brings to light the fascinating colonial feats of these forgotten bushrangers through narration and song.

Using the fictional characters of Lady Moonlight and Madame Ironbark, who themselves are running from the unjust law of the time, the show features the true daring exploits of those women.

With eight original songs composed for the show, and a year of research from Hobart to Eulo, this show promises to change the way you see Australia's male-dominated colonial past.

Take, for instance, Elizabeth Jessie Hickman. With at least five aliases and after two stints in gaol, Ms Hickman struck her drunk and abusive husband 'Fitzy' over the head and killed him.

Problem is, there is no death certificate for Fitzy. Lismore resident Pat Studdy-Clift wrote a book about Hickman after spending four years researching the historical character, and highlighted the gaps in the story.

With the help of Studdy-Clift and other history buffs across the country, the artists have put together a show that offers an insight in the outlawed females of colonial years.


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