True tales of pioneering women

  • 6 April, 2016
  • Abigail Sanderson

Out of the loop: Isabella Godin survived a 3,000-mile trek through the Amazon in 1769, a tale rarely told. Photo: Felipe Frazao

Shackleton, Livingstone, Cook… These men, and many others who risked their lives in exploration, are, quite rightly, household names. But what about the women who did the same – with far less encouragement, and often in corsets too?

Modern-day adventurer Jacki Hill-Murphy has for years been recreating the journeys of some of these intrepid women – such as Isabella Godin, who in 1769 set off on a 3,000-mile journey through the Amazon basin to reunite with her husband and ended up the only survivor of the 42-person expedition. Or Kate Marsden, a nurse who travelled some 18,000km by boat, train, sledge and on horseback from Moscow to Siberia in 1890, seeking a cure for leprosy.

Then there is Mary Kingsley, who decided to climb Mount Cameroon in 1894 – and to the alarm of her hired companions, who had thought she would give up and had pocketed her money instead of buying proper provisions, made it to the summit via a route that no European had travelled before her.

To hear more about these pioneering women, check out this Tough Girl podcast where Hill-Murphy talks about female explorers from history and her own expeditions following in their footsteps. She also has a blog.