- Emmeline Freda Du Faur was born on 16 September 1882 at Croydon, Sydney, Australia, Freda was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School for Girls. She lived with her family near the Ku-ring-gai Chase national park where, as a young woman, she explored and taught herself to rock-climb. So, while researching I thought – tomboy, tomboy!
- It has been written that Freda was unable to finishing nursing training “because the mental strain on a sensitive, highly strung nature had been too great’ I find this statement questionable – what greater mental strain could there be then to climb the sheer face of mountains? Just my opinion. She did have an independent income and I think that this, combined with a love of mountains, may have been just ideal for an independent spirit.
New Zealand and Mountains
In 1906, photographs of *Aoraki/ Mount Cook on the south island inspired her to journey to see it for herself. She made a resolution to climb it. She learned climbing skills from Peter Graham and on December 19, 1909 she climbed Mt. Sealy with always Aoraki/ Mount Cook as her ultimate goal. (Maori name for Mt. Cook is Aoraki)
Enter Muriel Cadogan
Muriel was one of the staff at Dupain Institute of Physical Education in Sydney, Australia. They fell in love (not sure which one of them ‘knew the ropes’ better ! LOL. I also read that Freda spent three months training “under” Muriel – really? Let me stretch my imagination?? LOL Freda credits this training to the fact that on December 3, 1910 she climbed Aoraki/ Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand. (3,724 metres or
She wrote: ‘I was the first unmarried woman…to climb in New Zealand, and in consequence I received all the hard knocks until one day when I awoke more or less famous in the mountaineering world, after which I could and did do exactly as seemed to me best.’ I would add that she was the first lesbian to climb Aoraki/ Mount Cook.
A House in England.
Freda and Muriel sailed for England where they bought a home together. War World I (1914-1918) had broken out and Freda put mountain climbing aside and wrote a book, The Conquest of V. They lived in London and then moved to a seaside town called Bournemouth. Muriel later had mental problems and Freda moved her and herself to a facility. The couple was separated and Freda left and Muriel continued treatment. Muriel’s family came to take her back to Australia and Muriel died in June 1929 on the voyage home. Freda returned to Australia. Six years later, Freda poisoned herself with carbon monoxide. She is buried in the Church of England cemetery at Manly, a suburb of Sydney. The grave was unmarked from 1935 until 2006.
On December 3, 2006 a group of New Zealand climbers and friends gathered around a grave in Manly Cemetery that had been unmarked for more than 70 years. It marked the 96th anniversary of Freda’s climb of Aoraki/ Mount Cook in 1910. They brought a rock made of New Zealand greywacke, from the slopes of Aoraki/ Mount Cook. They cemented it to the ground with a plaque. The tiny plaque bears the name of Freda Du Faur.
Freda Du Faur, the first female mountaineer to climb Aoraki/ Mount Cook was given the recognition she deserved by a group of New Zealand climbers.
Although by birth Australian, New Zealand’s climbers wanted to memorialize Du Faur’s pioneering feats in their country.
paula: I could not find a picture of Muriel. I could not find how Muriel died. She was aboard a steam ship. Was she buried at sea?