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Studio portrait of Stephanie Trethewey

Rural women’s advocate
Tasmania | 2024 Australian of the Year

When Stephanie Trethewey moved to a farm in northern Tasmania with her husband and six-month-old son, she was unprepared for the challenges of being a rural mother. Without family, friends or mothers’ groups nearby, she felt completely isolated, but soon realised that other women must struggle, too.

Stephanie created Motherland, a podcast that shares stories of rural motherhood. It has since expanded to become an online community of 20 virtual villages that connects and supports more than 200 mothers who are raising children and teenagers in rural Australia.

I finally realised that, deep down, what I really yearned for was to connect with other rural mums. I wanted to know that, despite how isolated I felt, I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t failing, and that some of the challenges I was facing as a mum on the land were understandable.

Rural mums are the backbone of our farming communities. They’re the glue. They're everything.


Stephanie’s husband, Sam, gave her this unicorn when she was working in an unfulfilling corporate job. In finance, unicorns are privately held companies valued at more than $1 billion. She kept it on her desk as a reminder of the promise she made to herself – that there was more for her to see and do.

The online community Stephanie founded, Motherland, has become her unicorn, although its worth resides in the lives of the rural mums it has helped feel less alone.

Photo of a pink unicorn toy

Unicorn from Stephanie Trethewey

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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