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John Oxley Library

Dangerous Women

By Jacinta Sutton | 2 October 2020

When the Queensland Memory team sat down and talked about creating a podcast, it seemed all the stories we wanted to tell featured women. We found Queensland women were not afraid to walk into the forest and cut the path for themselves and others. We took a closer look into our history and our present, and in both we found women who shape our future. 

These ideas became Dangerous Women, State Library’s new podcast series that delves into the lives of five Queensland women with the nous to overturn Freud’s notion that anatomy is destiny. What makes them dangerous? Each has generated change in their chosen field that has and will transcend time, and they’ve done so by unapologetically being themselves. These women are dangerous not because they are feared, but because they are fearless.

The stories of these Dangerous Women are deftly told with equal parts strength, pathos and humour through a five episode podcast series produced by Snaggletooth Productions, a team of two women - our host Holly Zwalf and producer Erin McBean.

In our first episode Holly and Erin travel to Goorathuntha/Mt Tabor Station in Western Queensland to see if Holly can keep up with Keelen Mailman OAM, a Bidjara woman managing a 70,000 hectare cattle station on country. She’s the first Aboriginal woman to hold this kind of position, and she’s picked up an Australian of the Year finalist spot and a Barnardos Mother of the Year Award along the way.

Keelen Mailman OAM sitting at a table at the pub, wearing her hat with a cigarette in hand

Goorathuntha/Mt Tabor Station property manager Keelen Mailman outside the Ellangowan Hotel and Augathella Palms Motel, February 2020. Photographs of Mt Tabor station collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

View of dirt road through green pastures and trees, clouds in the sky.

Storm clouds gathering above the road in and out to Goorathuntha/Mt Tabor, Queensland, February 2020. Photographs of Mt Tabor station collection, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Next we head south to Ivy May Hassard and the Gold Coast. A pioneering aviatrix, Ivy was also a talented fashion designer who opened the first frock shop and beauty salon on the Gold Coast. In our second episode, Ivy's daughter Laurene welcomes Holly into the elegant world of her high flying, fearless mother and the glitz and glam of the Gold Coast in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Ivy May Pearce in the cockpit of her aircraft, Archerfield, 1935

Ivy May Hassard (nee Pearce) in her air craft, Archerfield, 1935. 28860 Ivy May Hassard Photographs and Papers, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Laurene Hassard modelling a white dress in 1972

Laurene Hassard modelling an award winning Ivy Hassard designed dress, 1972. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 30840, Ivy May Hassard Flying Jacket Memorabilia and Fashion Photographs.

Being the first woman to be registered as a doctor in Queensland is just one of Dr Lilian Cooper’s many accomplishments. In our third episode, Holly talks to Lilian expert and playwright Katy Forde about the life of Lilian and her equally impressive partner Josephine Bedford, and how these two women changed Brisbane forever.

Portrait of Dr Violet Lilian Cooper

Doctor Lilian Violet Cooper, ca.1900. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 144022.

Portrait of Josephine Bedford as an older woman

Josephine Bedford, Brisbane, c.1954. 7593 Josephine Bedford Photographs, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 7593-0002.

Our fourth dangerous woman wears several hats, and robes: academic, prolific blogger, activist and Australia’s first transgender priest. Is Rev Dr Josephine Inkpin as controversial as she might sound? Holly spends an afternoon talking with Jo and Penny, her wife of 35 years, at the intersection of gender, faith, religion and identity.

Cover of New Life (Oct./Nov./Dec. 1997), ATSAQ (Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland) magazine

New Life (Oct./Nov./Dec. 1997), ATSAQ (Australian Transgender Support Association of Queensland) magazine. 30338/30, Prejudice and Pride Exhibition Material, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Rev Dr Josephine Inkpin in her Anglican robes standing outside smiling

Reverend Dr Josephine Inkpin, 2020. Image supplied. 

In our final episode Holly visits Debbie Kilroy OAM at Sisters Inside Inc. Debbie is a wife, mother, grandmother, CEO, criminal lawyer, former prisoner and one of Australia’s leading advocates for protecting the human rights of women and children through decarceration. Debbie’s vision for the future of the justice system feels radical in a way that leaves most people afraid to admire it, and a little in awe of Debbie.

Cell Block B at the female division of Boggo Road Gaol Brisbane 1903

Cell Block B at the female division of Boggo Road Gaol Brisbane 1903. Exterior view of what was at the time, the new women's prison in Brisbane. The Queenslander, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Negative number: 33840.

Debbie Kilroy OAM

Debbie Kilroy, 2016. Image Supplied. 

Each of our Dangerous Women are wildly different. The current that runs through them all is their ability to adapt and overcome adversity while staying true to their own unique frequency. The strong sense of self they each possess is a powerful, sustainable resource, and it’s what made us want to share their stories with you.

Women like this are dangerous in ways that make our world a better place. They take the right kind of risks, ones that challenge the status quo, improve the lives of others and liberate everyone around them from thinking ‘it can’t be done’, or worse, ‘it shouldn’t be done’.

Embrace their stories and inspire your own dangerous side. You’ll find Dangerous Women on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Podcasts


Dangerous Women is a podcast by State Library of Queensland, hosted by Holly Zwalf, produced by Snaggletooth Productions and supported by Queensland Library Foundation’s Crowd Giving fundraising campaign.

Discover more: 

Related Collections: 

  • Keelen Mailman OAM

Photographs of Goorathuntha/Mt Tabor Station 

Photographs of the Bidjara Repatriation Ceremony at the Augathella Yumba, April 2012.

The Power of Bones by Keelen Mailman with Kris Olssen

  • Ivy May Hassard

28860 Ivy May Hassard Photographs and Papers 1927-1988

30840 Ivy May Hassard Flying Jacket Memorabilia and Fashion Photographs 1934-1975

  • Dr Lilian Cooper

Items in the collection relating to Dr Lilian Violet Cooper 

  • Rev Dr Josephine Inkpin

Items in the collection relating to Rev Dr Josephine Inkpin

  • Debbie Kilroy OAM

Items in the collection relating to Debbie Kilroy

Kilory was here by Kris Olssen



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