The 1903 Electoral Roll

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

As a rule electoral rolls don’t make interesting reading but the 1903 Federal one is an exception. Why? Because it is the first to include women.

Votes for Women

Australia became the first country in the world to extend the vote to women, along with the right to stand for Federal Parliament.

By combining the voters shown as living at Wyong Creek, Yarramalong, Cedar Brush Creek and Ravensdale we find a total of 310 persons made up of 169 men and 141 women.

Rolls show the occupations of voters. The first most striking information is that of the Valley’s 141 women, 138 were engaged in domestic duties. How things have changed! The women not listed under domestic duties were sisters Lillian and Maude Woodbury of Wyong Creek. Lillian was a school teacher and Maude taught music. The third was nurse Catherine Schofield of Yarramalong.

The overall figures can be split into sections. The first can be a combination of Yarramalong, Cedar Brush Creek and Ravensdale – the Upper Valley as it were, with the Lower Valley being Wyong Creek. The Upper Valley had 109 men and 82 women. It was male oriented compared to the Lower Valley where the figures were 60 men and 59 women. No doubt this was because the timber industry was concentrated at that stage in the Upper Valley and required male labour.

When, however, one looks at the occupations of these Upper Valley males it shows that 73 out of the male population of 109 described themselves as farmers. Yet only two said they were bushmen or teamsters. It seems that many of these farmers were in truth substantially engaged in the timber industry. In 1906 it was said that “a number of farmers put in a great deal of their time at this work, sometimes, we fear, to the neglect of their farms”.

Another point of interest was the appearance of six fishermen in Wyong Creek. Fishermen in Wyong Creek? Chinese had been fishing at The Entrance and Canton Beach since the 1860s. They had dried, smoked and pickled their catch for local consumption and for export. The opening of the railway in 1887/1889 led to professional fishermen coming to South Tacoma and sending their fish by train to Sydney. Obviously six of the fishermen gave their residential address as Wyong Creek.

In 1903, three women stood in the Australian election. Vida Goldstein – the first woman to register to stand for the Senate, polled 51,497 votes in 1903. She stood three more times over the years, up to 1920, despite never gaining a seat.

In 1903, three women stood in the Australian election. Vida Goldstein – the first woman to register to stand for the Senate, polled 51,497 votes in 1903. She stood three more times over the years, up to 1920, despite never gaining a seat.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

SOURCES: Max Farley; Australian Electoral Commission Fact Sheet 3; Wikipedia: Women in Government in Australia.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s