Convicts & Characters

Who were the women of the Female Factory? where did they come from? 

Convict Bonnets 'Roses from the Heart' a bonnet tribute to commemorate the value of a convict woman's life.

In their Footsteps

The children of the Orphanage and Girls Industrial School/Home

Heritage information


Settlement; Factory Above the Gaol; 


A contact register and information on support services and welfare files for Parramatta Girls. 


Where you can obtain records for: Convicts; AsylumOrphanageIndustrial School; Parramatta Girls Home


How to get there; Self Guide Tour;
Glengarriff Museum; Site Map

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is located in the heart of Western Sydney about 3kls north of the Parramatta CBD on approximately 56 acres of land bounded by the Parramatta River, Fleet Street, New Street and the Parramatta Gaol.

It is among the most significant historic sites in Australia and has been in continuous use as a place of confinement since 1821. The institutions of the Female Factory Precinct include:

  • Parramatta Female Factory (1821-1847) the destination of all unassigned convict women in the colony of NSW.
  • Parramatta Mental Asylum since 1847 the former Female Factory site has been used as an Asylum and today is known as Cumberland Hospital.
  • Roman Catholic Orphan School built beside the Female Factory in 1840 the first government owned orphanage for catholic children in Australia.
  • Parramatta Girls Home occupied the former RCOS premises in 1887 and operated as a child welfare institution until the 1980's. Since 1980 the main building has been used as the Norma Parker Detention Centre for Women.

Today many of historical buildings and structures of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct are threatened with demolition by neglect. Unlike other convict sites, the Precinct is off limits to tourists and other visitors who would like to see this remarkable site. This is a situation we'd like to change, but we need your help to do so, please Contact Us.

PFFP Memory Project

 PFFP Memory Project - Trace, Place, Identity

In February 2013 former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home launched the  Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project  to bring together artists, educators, academics, historians and the local community to activate this historic site as Australia's first international Site of Conscience.  

A social history and contemporary art project centred on the historic institutions, the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project introduces a new model of ethical practice and engagement with sites associated with trauma, loss and suffering by engaging those who once resided in these institutions to actively participate in determining how their experiences are remembered, documented and interpreted. Integral to this process are the rights of those who experienced institutional ' care' at this site to engage in determinations for the site's future.

Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is inquiring into how allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse that occurred in an institutional context have been managed and responded to. It will investigate how institutions and governments can better protect children, how they can achieve best practice in reporting and responding to incidents and how to address the impact of child sexual abuse.

Parramatta Girls Home & Hay Institution

Testimonies given at the Royal Commission public hearings by former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home reveal the extent of brutality and dehumanisation they experienced.

Now more than ever it is time to recognise and preserve this site and the adjacent Female Factory as Australia's first Site of Conscience.

News Links

Exclusive look into the dungeon of Parramatta Girls Home | Daily Telegraph 7 March 2014

Inmates at Parramatta Girls Home subjected to 'state-sanctioned rape' | SMH 26 Feb 2014

Former Parramatta Girl tells hearing she's waited half a century for Royal Commission | ABC Radio PM 28 Feb 2014

Parramatta abuse victims still unheard | ABC Radio AM 1 March 2014

Raped and beaten – 'they bounced me off every wall', witness tells hearing |The Guardian 27 Feb 2014

Innocence lost in brutal institution | Daily Telegraph 7 March 2014