Women in Woollahra


The Women in Woollahra project aims to recognise, progress and celebrate the contribution of women in the local community, both past and present and across a range of fields.

This council-funded initiative was launched on International Women’s Day in March 2007, and has progressed in three stages. These have celebrated in turn, the contribution of women through local government, through professional and business life, and through community life and organisations. The approach has included oral history recordings, written biographies and will culminate in a commemorative memorial.

Stage 1 focused on two women who served on Woollahra Council : Belle Miller, the first woman alderman of this council (Dec 1959 to Sept 1971) and Brenda (Dutchie) Backhouse, alderman (Sept 1971 to 1980) and the first woman mayor (Sept 1978 to 1979). The subjects of Stage 2 were Alice Doyle, restaurateur and Rosemary Foot, politician and businesswoman. The third and final stage has examined the contribution of Pat Thompson, author and urban conservationist and Thistle Harris Stead, botanist, educator and writer.

Professional oral historian Frank Heimans has recorded interviews which shed light on the careers and contribution of these women, and the local history staff of Woollahra Library and Information Service have carried out further research and produced the following biographies.

NOTE: We acknowledge that there are many women in addition to those featured in the 2007 local history project who have made outstanding contributions to our community.