Successful Annual Conference of CWA in 1954

Recently I received a package from June Files in Broken Hill.  It looked to me as if it had been lovingly stored away and forgotten about for many years.  Reading through it I recognised some of the names as descendants who are still in the district.  The Barrier Miner was our evening paper and the Barrier Daily Truth was our morning paper – today the BDT remains but the Barrier Miner is ‘long gone’.

Below I have taken excerpts from the Barrier Miner 21 September 1954 –

“Members of the Country Women’s Association from several branches in the Far Western Division gathered at Wilcannia on Saturday for the 24th Annual Conference.  Many decisions of general importance to women were reached.  Domestic matters concerning C.W.A. were also discussed.

Delegates were present from Cobar, Collerreina, Coolabah, Hermidale, Marra Creek, Narromine, Nevertire, Nyngan, Trangie, Warren, Wilcannia, White Cliffs … apologies received from Bourke, Brewarrina and Girilambone.


Photo taken: Sydney 25 October 1949 – Mrs Rawlings, Mrs Snell, Mrs Eddy, Mrs Ryan and Mrs Burford.

The Opening …
“Opening points – The Association is State wide and branches/groups are only part of the machinery said Mrs Noel Thompson Metropolitan Vice President. She said the successful working of the association depends on the co-operation and support of all members.  The State Executive was after all elected by the branches and it was their task to carry out the branches wishes.”

The work of the Association had been formed to promote friendship and happiness among country women and thus make their lot a happy one.

Mrs Thomson asked for expansion of branches and membership.  The voice of the country women was already heard, but could be better heard by expanded membership.

Call to the Nation …
Miss Una Wilson welcomed Younger Set members and asked branches to foster this portion of the movement, for the Younger Set were the members of tomorrow.  They had a duty to the young people and if they did not help them someone else would and this could be the wrong way.

She also mentioned the association’s wish that the hand of friendship be extended to new migrants to the country.  Many things we took for granted were not understood by these people and we could be of help to them to assimilate our way of life by friendship and understanding.

General Work …
Miss Hall asked branches to be particularly careful when asked to attend various bodies as a representative of C.W.A.  This could be a dangerous practice for they may find their name linked where they least desired it.

Miss Hall also requested branches with a Baby Health Centre to keep accurate records of their expenses for it was headquarters wish to obtain.

A report from the secretary stated there were 19 branches with a membership of 1,074.

Motions carried from this conference …

  1. That the Railway department be asked to arrange for ice water on long distance country trains.
  2. That the association request the government to lift the means test of  the old age pension
  3. That the tariff to Keera House be raised to meet rising costs.


The meeting ended with all branches reporting successful years with many just completing new rest rooms or sufficient money to begin building.

My question to you in the year 2016 is … “what has changed”???


Opening of CWA accommodation in Broken Hill. Later all caught the bus to Silverton (ghost town 10 miles from Broken Hill) for a picnic.

Something to say and stories to tell … (if only we had the NBN to say it!)

I’ve been told that this blog really should be used to focus on issues that I have something to say about or to tell a story. For me, neither of these things should be too challenging (!). There is always plenty to say and I’m told I’ve always got a good story.

It is pertinent then, when we are considering “using our voice” to think about the very important theme that we have this week for the CWA of NSW’s Awareness Week around “Connectivity”. You won’t be surprised to know that I have both something to say and stories to tell on this very important issue.

I was pressed this week into really thinking about the human impact that a lack of connectivity in regional, rural and remote communities has. At first I found it hard, as I defaulted to the usual stoic demeanour of many like me that are simply used to “getting on with it” whilst we exist with third-world internet services.  Although, after sitting in my city CWA office and talking about the issues more with media and others throughout the week … it didn’t take me long to fire up.

Just how long are rural areas expected to wait for decent coverage? Really? I’m serious. We were promised the world with the NBN and most of us can’t help think we have been sold a pup. How long must we continue to hold our begging bowls out to government as we ask “please sir, can I have some more”…. more GB that is! The disparity between internet services in the bush and in the city is becoming more and more clear; and it’s not good enough. Readers, how would you react if, like a close community member of mine, you were locked into a $69/month contract for 2 years for a paltry 1 GB whilst on the interim satellite? It’s disgusting and the CWA have had enough.


Connectivity in the bush is so important. I would argue more important than the metro areas where increased investment, for the everyday person, means being able to stream a few more movies. A significant investment in telecommunications infrastructure in the bush means far more than simply streaming Netflix and getting sorted with your online gaming. It means jobs, regional development, better education, better healthcare and increased community resilience. The Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia group has been doing great things to highlight this issue. They need to be listened to and their recommendations need to be taken on-board.

I can’t help but be frustrated when I see MP’s standing up in parliament asking for better internet and Wi-Fi coverage on the Central Coast train system, when we have whole towns and whole communities that are missing out completely.

I hope those Central Coast train commuters get their better services, I really do. I don’t envy the long commute that they have to do. Many people in our district have to travel thousands of kilometres just to see a medical specialist. Fine you might say … “that is the cost of living out there”. To a degree this might be true, but often these same people are offered follow up appointments via Skype and online … which they cannot utilise as they simply don’t have the internet to do it. I wonder how the Central Coast commuters might feel about that when they can stream the latest “House of Cards” series to their iPad on their way home.

Apart from the human cost, there is a very real financial cost that occurs every day that we go by without adequate service. The medical appointments I speak about above, can be subsidised by IPTAS, who often have to subsidise many visits instead of one because of the inability for many regions to have their follow up appointments online.

We are constantly hearing from government about how we need to “upskill” and “increase capacity” of those situated in the west. It sounds like a dumb question but can I ask how we actually do that without the internet?

I am sick of hearing the rhetoric about why we only “need” a certain speed to be built. How patronising. Again, these comments marginalise and disenfranchise people that live in the rural areas of the state. Build it and they will come is what I say. People can start to think about doing things that they have never done before.

Against this backdrop, I also see struggles with representation. It is hard to know what comes first, the lack of representation due to poor connectivity … or the ongoing poor connectivity due to lack of rural and remote representation. By not addressing this issue seriously we continue to disenfranchise the communities that need to be empowered the most.

This week, I urge all of you to join with us in making this issue one that is heard about by your local representatives and decisions makers. Get along to a local CWA event, write to your local member, share this blog and share the stories that you will hear the CWA branches from all over the state telling.

CWA of NSW started in 1922 with aims that are still as relevant today and we have become a force to be reckoned with.  Some people speak of CWA with reverence and in a ‘hushed tone’ others refer to us as the Tea and Scone Brigade or Cranky Women’s Association … to me it does not matter as what matters most of all is that the CWA of NSW is still being mentioned and in the news thanks to your efforts.

CWA Awareness Week logo

Johnny, Tea and Me

On the weekend whilst enjoying my usual morning cup of coffee, I started thinking about how the habit had come about since during my early years, drinking tea was such a huge part of my life.

My lovely father Johnny was a creature of habit; you could set your watch by him. He was hard working, talented, and patient and had the best sense of humour.  He was also a seriously dedicated tea drinker. Right on the dot at 7.20 am every morning he would knock on my door with the newspaper and a delicious steaming hot cup of loose leaf Lanchoo Tea.  He did this every day until the day I married and moved out!

At 7.30 am he would wheel his Honda 50 or ‘Postie Bike’ out and in all kinds of weather ride to the other end of town with his crib (Broken Hill/Cornish slang for food, provisions or light meal) and thermos of tea to begin his day as an Electrician on the North Mine.

3. Johnny and Tea

Johnny Wharburton – first on the left. Electricians going underground to electrify the shaft. They would literally be lowered down in the bucket behind them.

At 4.00 pm the Mine whistles blew signalling the end of the day shift and the beginning of night shift.  You knew for certain that Johnny would be wheeling in the gate at exactly 4.20 pm and the family gathering of afternoon tea would begin! In fact I can remember most of the mining families in our street followed the same ritual. Tables would be set with the Lanchoo tablecloths carefully saved for and selected from the catalogue, along with homemade biscuits, scones, patty cakes or fruit cake cut into very small columns.

For me the words “drinking tea” stir up memories of drinking tea with the family, tea with my gran, ‘Billy’ tea on our family camping trips, thermos tea on our annual holiday trips to Adelaide, tea at smoko time on the property and tea at CWA … tea, how did we come together before tea!

“Tea is certainly as much of a social drink as coffee, and more domestic, for the reason that the teacup hours are the family hours.” Arthur Gray – The Little Tea Book.

So back to my thoughts and why now, I’m so fond of coffee.  Barry and I went walking on the weekend and came across a delightful little coffee shop.  We ordered a Latte and a Mocha which were promptly delivered with such beautiful, intricately decorated froth; we were slightly hesitant to drink them.

coffee 3

For me now my morning tea in bed and afternoon family tea has been replaced with coffee shops and cafes, lattes and mochas.  When and why did I switch my love and devotion from tea to coffee?

On moving to Goodwood Station in the 70’s I was introduced to the ‘delicacy’ of coffee and powdered milk by my father in law.  To this day, the memory of lumpy powdered milk floating in my coffee is enough to make me go many extra miles for fresh milk! In those days coffee making consisted of a teaspoon of International Roast, milk and sugar and hot water … that was it! Now we have Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Piccolo, Ristretto, Espresso, Vienna, Mocha, Affogato, Long Black, Flat White – the list goes on.


Recently when I had a spring clean I found a drip filter coffee machine, plungers, a vacuum machine, a pod machine, an espresso machine and a milk frother. It seems my love of coffee has developed into something of an obsession.

Although I don’t drink as much tea now as I did in the  ‘good old days’ and it’s certainly not such a focal point in my life, it will always be like an old friend who I look upon with great fondness. As my wonderful Dad used to say, “A cup of tea can fix anything”.

Do you remember saving the end of the Lanchoo tea packet and with great excitement be able to select a gift from the Lanchoo catalogue?

lanchoo tea