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Not your normal type of pioneer

In 1894, a young woman by the name of Isobel Violet Hesketh arrived in Port Darwin from England. She had been born to labourer John and Anne, his wife in Nottinghamshire.

The strength of character of this young woman was already evident, to travel across the globe to a new country. This bravery would keep her in good stead for the years to come.

Isobel Price in her wedding dress. Courtesy Women's Museum of Australia

On March 5th, 1898 Isobel married Frederick Alfred Price, son of Henry, in Palmerston, just 2okms south of Darwin. They had met in Port Darwin when Frederick had been transferred from the Central Telegraph Office in Adelaide.

They started on their family, having three children while still in Darwin. Then Fred was transferred back to Adelaide in 1904 where they had three more. After he was transferred to Hergott Springs in 1912, Isobel fought with the isolation. For that reason she went back to Adelaide with her four remaining children and Fred joined them in 1913. They had their last child in Adelaide in 1914.

In 1924, tragedy struck when Fred had to go to hospital. He died there on the 12th August. The death was unexpected and Isobel and her children, who were still at home ranging in ages from 10 to 17 years, had to decide what to do.

Fred and Isobel had been making plans to move to Harper Springs Station, northeast of Alice Springs, after Fred retired from the Telegraph Office. Isobel decided to carry on the plan and with her children, horse and buggy, 200 merino sheep, goats, three camels and horses and the help of a young Aboriginal man, they set out. It took them eight weeks to reach the station.

The daughters Mollie and Pearl were brilliant riders and with their mother, did all the shearing. Isobel and her children were an unusual bunch to be running a station in Central Australia all by themselves, but that's exactly what they did. They were all also excellent trackers. Despite a drought and having to move to another station of theirs, Woolla Downs, to continue their work, the number of sheep increased.

Isobel's grave in Payneham Cemetery, South Australia. Courtesy Findagrave.

Isobel died in October 1957 and is buried in Payneham Cemetery, South Australia with her husband, Fred and children Ivy, Cyril and Hilda.


  • 'Isabella Violet (Hesketh) Price (1876 - 1957)', Wikitree, accessed 27th March, 2023,

  • 'Pearl Powell', Wikipedia, accessed 19th June, 2023,

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