Taken from the ancient Greek names for women and the (for the ancient Greeks...) mythical great southern land, FEMINA AUSTRALIS is a historical project by Maryen Cairns combining original music, stories and art. The first stage is the creation of the CD Book "FEMINA AUSTRALIS" which has 15 tracks of music, and 38 pages of lyrics, stories & illustrations taking the listener through the lives of 12 Australian women. This stage is now complete and available HERE.
A visit to Kate's Cottage, a museum at Glenrowan in Victoria, inspired Maryen to write a song about Ned Kelly’s little sister Kate, and then contact UK producer Chris Kimsey whom she had worked with whilst based in London. Kimsey loved the new songs but encouraged Maryen to continue to explore that historical vein, and over the next 18 months, she wrote another 12 songs about Australian women, some well-known, others largely forgotten, whose stories intrigued her, the storyteller in Maryen demanding that they be told. These women are Birrung, Mary Reibey, Tarenorerer, Caroline Chisholm, Grace Bussel, Elizabeth “Jessie” Hickman, Edith Cowan, Joyce Barry, Oodgeroo Noonuccal AKA poet Kath Walker, Granny Lum Loy and the unknown women who died in the Eureka Stockade in 1854. The 15th song features a soundscape created by Maryen with the words "Australis, great southern land" and a traditional Wardaman song sung by Wardaman Senior Elder Bill Yidumduma Harney in his own language.