'Fabulous' Rural Women's Gathering after three long years of planning

Hi Landcarers,

After three years it is hard to believe that the NSW Rural Women's Gathering is over!

Since applying to host on behalf of the Forbes Gathering Committee in March 2019, attending the handover at Walcha and two postponed events, we decided to go against the grain of the traditional October/November event and make the most of April 2022.

With so many events being held last weekend in not only our area, but across the state, covid still impacting busloads of traditional attendees, it was a fabulous event!

We were fortunate to welcome women from across the State including the towns of Warialda, Wentworth Falls, Rankin Springs, Dunedoo, Glen Innes, Narrandera, Maitland, Kiama, Woy Woy and Walcha. One thing that we did hear repeatedly was how much people from the coast were happy to see the sunshine!

After a beautiful Welcome to Country from Yarrangirri Holmes and Elder Aileen Allen, participants were welcomed into town Hall and Forbes Mayor Cr Phyllis Miller OAM welcomed everyone to Forbes, followed by Local State Member Phil Donato MP welcoming the group to Forbes and the Central West.

We were fortunate to have guest speaker 2020 NSW/ACT Agrifutures Rural Woman of the Year Cressida Cains of Pecora Dairy as our first speaker on the Saturday morning, followed by local real estate agent Tara Kelly of Century 21 Central West.

Our special guest, Melinda Schneider spoke of her life growing up as a performer from a very young age and the life twists and turns that brought her to be in the role of a Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) Ambassador.

There was not a dry eye in the house during Melinda's session.

We heard from NSW Farmers' Young farmer Council Representative Charlotte Groves. Charlotte also joined the panel discussion led by MC Kia Handley around Mental Health, with Melinda Schneider, Stephanie Stanhope from CWA NSW and Tara Kelly.

Workshops and tours were held on Saturday afternoon including Forbes Garden Tour, Sculpture Tour, Woolerina Tour, cheesemaking, relaxation workshops with Cherie Stitt Backroom Workshop and Kitty Stitt Light Up and Stay Ignited, Fishing with Brett Smith, Interrelate Pull Up Your Socks.

On Sunday morning, we had a Sculpture Down the Lachlan Guided Tour around the Lake and Forbes Dragon Boat Club demonstration.

The Gala Dinner was by far the highlight of the Gathering, with a dance performance from Stan and Stela, guest speaker Jean Kittson, who had guests in stitches! We finished off the evening with everyone on the dance floor with Royden Donohue.

Sunday was an opportunity to hear from four local speakers providing inspirational stories, a few more tears and leaving us all walking away inspired, encouraged and ready to take on a new challenge.

We were fortunate to welcome Dr Karen Ritchie to speak about the Boosting the Lachlan Valley Art Project, Wendy Muffet speaking about Grazing Down the Lachlan, Fiona Aveyard of Outback Lamb and Rose Philipzen of Moxey Farms.

I can't capture how fabulous these women were in this short article, but will just say how appreciative we were to have them all as part of the Gathering.

Stephanie Stanhope from NSW Country Women's Association spoke about the history of the CWA in NSW as they celebrate 100 years! She also spoke about her personal struggle after losing her home in the Black Summer Fires.

After a long and challenging three years, a massive thank you to the committee working behind the Gathering, our MC Kia Handley who was an absolute delight to work with, Central West Lachlan Landcare and Forbes Shire Council.