When I first considered creating this blog, I thought about the many stories I had read over the years about incredible women who faced insurmountable odds in their lives and yet had gone on to such great achievements and rich experiences.
One such woman, Winifred Steger (1882-1981) hailed from my native Australia, and whose desperate circumstances and life as a single mother led her to the most unbelievable adventures in a time when these kinds of exploits by a woman were practically unthinkable .
An account of Winifred’s incredible and fantastic life , written by Hilarie Lindsay, called “The Washerwomans Dream: The Extraordinary Life of Winifred Steger, 1882-1981“, is highly recommended reading if you can lay your hands on a copy. I literally couldn’t put this book down.
After emigrating from England at ten years old, to the remainder of a deprived childhood spent in rural Australia eking out an impoverished existence from the land with her settler father, to her first abusive marriage to an alcoholic husband, then becoming a single mother to four young children by her mid-twenties, to finding work in remote outback Australia, going on to marry two camel drivers in succession and running a camel team, to traveling the world, being presented to royalty , to making the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, to becoming a published author, and living to nearly 100 years old, Winifred Steger was indeed a Can-Do Woman.
Running a camel team?
Australia is a vast country, with mostly unpopulated desert making up a good portion of the land mass. Up until the early twentieth century, before roads and railways connected the cities with outback areas, the transportation of mail and other goods, was the responsibility of teams of camel drivers, many of whom hailed from Pakistan and Afghanistan, then part of the British Empire.
As a resident of the Australian outback in her twenties, and a single mother of four children, Winifred had found work at an isolated outback hotel where she came into regular contact with the visiting camel drivers. She ended up marrying two of the camel drivers in fairly quick succession, and became the first, and perhaps the only, white woman to own and run a camel team in outback Australia.
If you’re interested to read a little more about this phase of Winifred’s life, please see this article: THINKING ALOUD: From rural Punjab to outback Australia —Razi Azmi
Have you read an incredible story of a pioneer woman? Or a story of an improbable and adventurous life of a seemingly ordinary extraordinary woman? Please share.