Australia’s 50 richest women control more than $85 billion in wealth. Here’s who makes the cut.

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins. (David Fitzgerald, Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)

While many of Australia’s wealthiest might be men, there is no shortage of women who have managed to enjoy formidable success at the top.

In fact, this year’s rich list saw mining magnate Gina Rinehart take out the overall top spot by a country mile, with an estimated net worth of more than $35.6 billion.

To mark International Women’s Day in 2021 however, the AFR Rich List editors Julie-anne Sprague and Michael Bailey have for the first time compiled a standalone list recognising 50 of the most financially successful women in the country.

Between them, they control $85.3 billion, with Rinehart laying claim to a whopping 41% share of that collective wealth.

In fact, such is her dominance of the overall list, that the second richest woman, Angela Bennett, holds a little more than one tenth of Rinehart’s fortune.

Similarly Bennett, the daughter of prospector Peter Wright, also made much her crust in the iron ore boom, more than doubling her net worth in the space of four years.

With the inclusion of her nieces, Alexandra Burt and Leonie Baldock, worth $1.9 billion and Rinehart’s three daughters Bianca, Ginia and Hope, worth $2.6 billion apiece as part of their family fortune, mining clearly dominates the list.

As a result, nearly six in ten entrants in the top 50 come from Western Australia, followed by just two in ten from New South Wales. The miners are joined in the top 10 by some of corporate Australia’s most famous families.

Tied for third are Fiona Geminder and Heloise Pratt, co-owners of packaging giant Visy. With a third share each of the company’s Australiasia footprint, chaired by brother Anthony Pratt, both are valued at an equal $3.2 billion.

Not far behind is Gretel Packer valued $2.2 billion and undoubtedly having had a better 12 months than her brother James. Both are pipped however by father Kerry’s old media rivals, the Murdochs, with Rupert’s daughter Prudence MacLeod worth $2.7 billion.

New challengers

Thankfully, there are also plenty of challengers climbing the list.

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins comes in at number 12 with a net worth of $1.76 billion. At just age 35, the tech entrepreneur also ranks among the list’s youngest.

Tania Austin, Cotton On co-founder and CEO of clothing store Decjuba, ranks 20th with a $721 million fortune. She’s joined by Jo Horgan, the founder of domestics giant Mecca, and Tahnee Beard, co-owner of Culture Kings. Respectively they are ranked 37th and 39th respectively, and valued at $320 million and $313 million apiece.

The group’s youngest member is fitness star Kayla Itsines at 29 years old with a net worth of $217 million.

Robyn Denholm, the Australian chair of Tesla, meanwhile has enjoyed the explosive riches associated with the frothy EV manufacturer. Compensated handsomely with options for the stress of keeping Elon in line, she’s worth an estimated $643 million.

Judy Brinsmead, owner of Adco construction, meanwhile has grown her own fortune to nearly $600 million on the back of a industrial building boom.

Megan Wynne may hail from Western Australia but her career has been forged in recruitment. Wynne is valued at $371 million on the back of the success of APM, the global disability employment services firm she founded.

Similarly, tech recruitment agency Finite Group has propelled its founder Tracy Thomson to a $212 million valuation. Meanwhile Cyan Ta’eed, co-founder of creative marketplace Envato is ranked 35th.

Co-founding global logistics software company WiseTech, Maree Isaacs is worth an estimated $423 million, while Penelope Maclagan sits at $233 million off the back of stock transfer company Computershare.

Frankly, it’s good to see some new names knocking at the pantheon.

See the AFR’s complete list.