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Biographical entry Cowle, Kate Julia (1863 - 1916)

17 July 1863
Fingal, Tasmania, Australia
29 April 1916
Devonport, Tasmania, Australia
Botanist, Conservationist and Naturalist
Alternative Names
  • Weindorfer, Kate Julia (married name)


Kate Cowle was a botanist, naturalist and conservationist active between c1890 and 1916 in Tasmania and Victoria. She was a keen member of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria between 1902 and 1905, regularly co-leading excursions and identifying botanical specimens for other members. Her particular interest was mosses. She met fellow member and botanist Gustav Weindorfer, and in 1906 they moved to Tasmania and married. There they started their life-long vision of exploring, protecting and promoting the natural, scenic and scientific values of Cradle Mountain. Being of independent means Kate Cowle was able to purchase 200 acres of Crown Land at Cradle Mountain in 1911 to ensure that it would not be logged. On this land, Gustav Weindorfer built "Waldheim" as a visitor and tourism centre for adventurers, scientists, naturalists, and geologists, using as his model, the developments they had seen on Mount Buffalo in the Victorian Alps. In conjunction with Ronald Edgar Smith (1881-1969), neighbouring Crown Land was also purchased to protect it - in total more than 1200 acres. Their venture ultimately succeeded although circumstances during WWII (Kate's terminal illness, Smith's enlistment and the general distrust of foreigners such as Gustav) hampered their plans. Kate Cowle's entire estate was bequeathed to her husband, assuring the protection of the Cradle Mountain area.

Published resources


  • Legge, Kate, Kindred: a Cradle Mountain love story (Carlton, Vic.: Miegunyah Press, 2019), 247 pp. Details
  • Schnackenberg, Sally, Kate Weindorfer : the woman behind the man and the mountain : a biography of Kate Julia Weindorfer wife of Cradle Mountain pioneer Gustav Weindorfer (Launceston, Tas.: Regal Publications, 1995), 69 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Cowle, K., 'Notes on a Visit to Mount Roland, Tasmania', The Victorian Naturalist, 20 (1903), 70-72. Details
  • Cowle, K., 'Excursion to Yan Yean', The Victorian Naturalist, 20 (1904), 165. Details

See also

  • Bergman, G. F., Gustav Weindorfer of Cradle Mountain (Launceston: Burchall, 1959). Details
  • Sutton, C. S., 'Gustav Weindorfer', The Victorian naturalist, 49 (1932), 34-8. Details
  • Tilley, Raymond F., 'Weindorfer, Gustav (1874-1932)' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ritchie, ed., vol. 12 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1990), pp. 436-437. Details
  • Weindorfer, G., 'Two botanists in the Cradle Mountains, Tasmania', The Victorian Naturalist, 28 (1912), 216-23. Details

Ken McInnes, Helen Cohn