Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Sarah (Fanny) Durack (1889–1956)

by Judy Joy Davies

The news that world famous swimmer, Miss Fanny Durack had died at her Sydney home yesterday took me back to a twilight evening three years ago when I climbed from the Sydney Olympic pool after swimming 32 laps, and looked anxiously at a long line of official timekeepers.

Then Fanny ran up, stopwatch still in hand, and threw her arms around me.

"You're the first Australian girl to break the world mile record since I did, 38 years ago," she cried as she kissed me.

Miss Durack had a wealth of swimming knowledge. She was Australia's first woman Olympic Games representative, first Olympic winner, and first world record holder.

She passed away following a heart seizure only hours after officiating and encouraging swimmers at a Sydney carnival.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Judy Joy Davies, 'Durack, Sarah (Fanny) (1889–1956)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Fanny Durack, 1930s?

Fanny Durack, 1930s?

State Library of New South Wales, 30001

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Gately, Sarah

27 October, 1889
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


20 March, 1956 (aged 66)
Stanmore, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Events
Key Organisations