1882 - 1935

Freda Du Faur was born in Sydney on September 18, 1882. As a girl she developed a passion for the outdoors and as a young woman she taught herself rock-climbing. Du Faur summered in New Zealand, and in 1906 visited Mount Cook and was captivated by the mountains and snow. Two years later she returned and met Peter Graham who increased her skills by teaching her rope work, as well as snow and ice craft. When climbing, Du Faur dressed practically, wearing a skirt to just below the knee over knickerbockers and long puttees. Sunburn, scrapes, and dirt were minimal discomforts compared to the thrill of a climb and the challenge brought her great enjoyment and freedom. After three months training under the care of physical education coach Muriel Cadogan, she returned to New Zealand to climb Mount Cook. Accompanied by Peter and Alexander Graham, she reached the summit on December 3, 1910, becoming the first female to ascend the mountain in a record time of six hours. She became an international sensation, admired for her athleticism, perseverance, and endurance. Over several climbing seasons she made many more notable climbs and reigned as the world’s leading amateur climber.  In 1914, Du Faur and Muriel Cadogan moved to England and worked on De Faur’s book The Conquest of Mount Cook (1915). The couple eventually moved to Boscombe, where they shared a residence. After Cadogan experienced a breakdown, Du Faur took her to a facility. In 1929 Muriel’s family took her back to Australia, she died en route. Heartbroken, Du Faur returned to Australia and took up bush walking. Suffering from depression at the loss of her beloved, Du Faur poisoned herself with carbon monoxide on September 11, 1935. In memory of this adventurous woman, in the main divide of New Zealand’s Southern Alps - Du Faur, Pibrac and Cadogan Peaks are named in memory of this pioneering feminist, the Du Faur home, and her devoted lover.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated Australia United Kingdom

Era/Epoch Interwar Period (1918-1939) Progressive Era (1890-1920)

Field(s) of Contribution



World History

Commemorations & Honors

Freda's Rock at Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook National Park Named After Her

New Zealand’s Southern Alps Du Faur Peak Named After Her

First Woman to Reach the Summit of Mount Cook in New Zealand (1910)

Commemorative Plaque and Memorial Stone Placed at Du Faur's Gravesite (2006)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Allo Kerstein
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell