A LOVE LETTER TO THE C.W.A.
& COUNTRY WOMEN.
Hails from Trangie, on the Central Western Plains of NSW. She’s still starry-eyed over the fact that she's the local CWA branch secretary and is fiercely proud of her role in the 100-year-old organisation.
“The C.W.A. is interwoven into the history of Australia. It's about tradition. It is part of our culture. As an organisation, it also has a political voice and I don’t think people realise that, but it really appeals to me. The C.W.A. has been a force for change in this country, and while they don’t necessarily publicise that fact, if the C.W.A. says it, people listen. They’re taken seriously by those in authority. There’s a misconception that the C.W.A. is just about knitting and scones, although those kinds of activities aren’t to be discounted, they’re all part of the mix.”
Based in rural Australia, Clancy uses her lens to search for the magic in the mundane, and seeks to reveal the mysterious beauty of the vast landscapes that surround her every daily. Home is a mixed small farm, where she and her husband raise their four children and a menagerie of animals.
“The C.W.A. is the heart and soul of most small towns and rural communities. More than just an association, they unify and tether us to past traditions and values, from scone-making to fundraising. To me the C.W.A. represent the best of Australia past and present”.
Mother, businesswomen, friend and possessor of sparkling wit, Kay is one of the North West’s best loved community members. While the days of running her legendary in the bush fashion boutique are behind her, she is a woman whose life has been rich with meaningful work.
“The CWA is the backbone of regional Australia and we wouldn’t be who we are today with out them. There is a sense of spirit and generosity that personifies every member who volunteers for their local branch, and while they are united by their sense of duty, there is also that camaraderie and depth of human connection that helps get us through the tough times”.
Growing up in the dusty isolation of outback NSW, the CWA and their role in rural communities are ingrained in my childhood memories. My grandmother, a card-carrying member of the CWA and a big influence in my life was an expert gardener, needlewoman, cook, fundraiser and a force to be reckoned with when it came to campaigning and creating impact for different issues that faced rural women and their families. I may not have inherited her domestic abilities but she loved a social cause and in turn my passion for generating media for rural and regional issues and supporting women in the bush may be the legacy she passed down to her eldest granddaughter.
Growing up overseas and studying Art History at university, a life in the bush lay beyond the realms of her imagination but a chance encounter with a handsome young grazier saw her swapping the tree lined streets of Adelaide for the saltbush dotted plains in the Western Division of NSW.
Living on a merino station, day to day life may look a little bit different than it once did. A quick trip to the shops now involves a 3 hour round trip (if the dirt roads are up to it!) and the sparkly stilettos don't get as much of a work out as they once did - but the strong, and often intergenerational relationships she has made with other women in the community has had a dramatic impact on her life.
"Organisations like the CWA and the wide range of Women's Club networks that operate across the country offer so much support and guidance for newcomers in regional areas but are often undervalued in this way. The generosity and encouragement I have received from other women over the last six years has been incredible, without it I would have packed my bags a long time ago".
There is something intrinsically heroic about women from the bush. But in a practical, understated, just get and do it kind of way. Mother of five Margaret Clarke is a shining example of this. Recently retired as a volunteer and committee member of the local Vinnies branch, her sense of service and community ties are strong. “It's extremely important for women in the bush to have groups like the CWA or Vinnies. For isolated women living on properties they are a great way to bring people together and bond. We've been through a lot of life experiences together. We've faced divorces, deaths and lots of celebrations but we've been able to shoulder it all together".
Georgie Robertson and Clancy Paine are based in rural NSW. Often (but mainly when the stars align), they create beautiful content that reflects their love of Australia and affection for bush storytelling through words and pictures.