In 1971 two local ladies went to the Forbes Municipal Council to ask whether they could sell handicrafts in a corner of the Tourist Bureau.
Five decades on, our wonderful Forbes Handicraft Centre stands as testament to the incredible value of their initiative.
At the time the agricultural sector was doing it pretty tough: Mrs H Todd and Mrs A Perry told aldermen the centre would give families an opportunity to supplement their income and the council agreed to provide them with a little space.
Looking back across the decades, current vice president Deirdre Quirk adds it also provided invaluable connection for country women in those years.
Their skills soon gained renown: by October 21, 1971, the Advocate was reporting on the venture's success.
"For the past two months the Forbes Handicraft Centre has been operating on an experimental basis at the Tourist Bureau, with gratifying results," we reported.
"The committee has been delighted with the variety of handicrafts submitted and the high quality of the goods," secretary Mrs Joan Todd told the Advocate.
"It is very encouraging for members to find a demand for their crafts, and we are rather proud of the fact that there has been an order for one article to be sent to America."
Members had already had to install a second counter, and felt it would be possible to extend to opening weekends as well.
By 1972 the group had relocated to "The Lighthouse" on Lake Forbes, later to become Nutmeg's Nook.
Not only was this a place to purchase a unique gift from our region, it became an attraction in its own right as a place to learn the arts or see traditional crafts in practice.
"In two small rooms ... they have all sorts of things from hand carved native animals and bark paintings to beautifully hand spun shawls and rugs to felt waistcoats for wine bottles," the Advocate reported in 1972.
"Down in the cellar the potters work, headed by Prue Stitt and David Digby.
"During Saturday afternoon they show any interested people a little of the art of pottery.
"Clay for the pottery comes from a variety of local areas. It is well known that Forbes has some very good quality kaoline deposits.
"On Wednesdays the spinners arrive with their wheels. Elizabeth Molloy, who fostered the revival of interest in spinning in Forbes, said the idea came from the depressed wool prices.
"Regularly about half a dozen people spin in the cottage each week."
In time - and with two moves to bigger premises - the Handicraft Centre was established as a centre of local arts as well as crafts with a very welcome mothers' room as well.
This was so very necessary for both travellers and for farming families in the days before air conditioned cars.
Mrs Quirk says many wonderful women have been part of the Centre over many years, and about 65 members from the district still contribute and incredible range of work.
It's 47 years since she joined the Centre, Mrs Marg Wood is another early member who is still serving.
They've seen some wonderful and busy times - for those who remember the two day craft shows and workshops at the CWA Hall with local and visiting artisans.
They've also survived the heartbreak of break-ins, including one where offenders smashed pottery, shelving and art.
Through it all, they've also been able to pour thousands of dollars back into this community thanks to members' small annual fee and commission from items sold.
1971: Lilian Perry, Joan Todd and Elizabeth New got together and decided to sell their crafts in a glass cabinet in the then Tourist Bureau in Lachlan Street.
1972: The fledgling group moved to 'The Lighthouse' later known as Nutmeg's Nook.
1973: It was becoming apparent the group needed to be formalised. The inaugural meeting was on July 23, 1972. Mrs Prue Stitt was the first president, Mrs Joan Todd secretary and Mrs Lillian Perry treasurer. Subcommittees for types of crafts were also formed.
1974: Mrs Janette McRae was president and membership had grown to 143. The move into the little shop in Lachlan Street was made, and the group rented a corner of the Tourist Bureau.
Over the next 12 years Phyllis Hurkett, Barbara Schrader, Joan Todd, Matron Caryle Creiton, Robyn Stephens and Judy Ellis were presidents.
As sales increased so did the workload and it became necessary to create a team of treasurers which included Shirley Smith, Gladys Cutler, Dulcie House, Glad Johnson. Many of these assistance held their positions for up to 30 years.
1980s: Two-day craft displays, sales and demonstrations were held in the CWA Hall. These were huge events.
1987: Under the leadership of Judy Ellis the shop moved across the road to the tourist information Centre, where they were able to have a mothers' room and public amenities.
1991: The group turned 20! They had been able to support numerous local organisations and causes, with a particular focus on Lach Haven.
1997: The Handicraft Centre began participating in the Biggest Morning Tea and would raise thousands of dollars for the cause in coming years.
2005: Helen Hurley became president and the Handicraft Centre moved to its current site.
Looking forward: the Forbes Handicraft Centre remains the place to pick up a baby gift, those library bags or art smocks, something for morning tea or a unique piece of woodwork or art for your home.
They have recently opened to selling vintage collectibles as well as pieces of work of almost every kind of handiwork including incredible woodwork and leatherwork.
And it continues to expand with a new room soon to open up at the rear.
If you're a local creative and you're interested in joining and selling your work, visit the Handicraft Centre in Lachlan Street to find out more.
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