Postcards from Tamworth – 93rd AGM

Tamworth and Wanthella Group welcomed us warmly for our 93rd Annual Conference where 20 motions were debated, new friendships made and existing ones renewed. The weather was favourable, the venue fantastic, the speakers most interesting and the displays well supported. For those of you who could not make it here is a brief pictorial snapshot and for those who were able to attend; a reminder of the week’s events.

To see more photos in The Land, click here.



State Office Bearer’s 2014-2015


Opening Ceremony


Official Opening Procession


His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of NSW officially opening our 93rd Annual General Meeting and Conference


Professor Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer giving the Keynote Speech




Handicraft Display


Hospital Support Display


Beautiful flower displays


Cultural Display


International Display


Land Cookery Display


Agricultural & Environmental Display


Primary Product Display


Discussing Agenda Items


Relaxing between Business Sessions

SOB's 2015-2016

State Office Bearers 2015-2016 (Photo courtesy of The Land)

The Executive: State Honorary Treasurer – Ruth Cargill, Dubbo Evening; State International Officer – Joy Granger, Tarcutta; State Agricultural and Environmental Officer – Lorraine Sewell, Kellys Plains-Dangarsleigh; State President – Tanya Cameron, Rowena; State Honorary Secretary – Annie Kiefer, Sydney City, and State Vice Presidents – Annette Turner, White Cliffs; Colleen Yates, Gloucester Evening; Beryl Brain, Narrandera Evening and Stephanie Stanhope, Bega.

Outgoing SOB's

Outgoing Executive members (Photo courtesy of The Land)

Outgoing CWA of NSW executive members, State Honorary Treasurer – Kaye Anderson, Cooma; State International Officer – Gail Commens, Eurongilly Branch; State Vice President – Lois Stalley, Hillston Branch and State Agricultural and Environmental Officer – Julian Campbell AM, Warren Branch.

Finding a Happy Place

Like many other self-professed fashionistas I have, in the past, spent a small fortune and a considerable amount of time sitting under huge hairdryers that blocked out all other sounds and almost completely covered ones whole head, in the pursuit of turning straight locks into curls.

Fast forward a few years where time and money spent are somewhat more disproportionate, but the new space-age, circular and noiseless hairdryer that magically orbits my bleached and plastic wrapped tufts, is far less invasive. The paraphernalia necessary to the pursuit of curls has been replaced by the super attractive silicone cap shaped like a see through 1920’s flapper hat. It’s much more glamourous!

Why am I rabbiting on about hairdryers, perms and streaks when there are so many more important events occurring across the globe and worthy of discussion and comment?

Because there seem to be way too many to a) comprehend or b) choose one over others to single out and whilst some every-day items have become less intrusive, others have swamped us with our thirst for instant news going into overdrive.

Every time I turn on the telly or radio, check print or online news and social media there is another catastrophe, man-made (as with today’s terrible headlines) or natural and the real-time coverage of it; so much so that it is starting to overwhelm my senses.

My thoughts were not as simplistic or shallow as to be focused completely on the improvements to a hairdressers tools of trade but about how, generally, life and all its processes moved at a slower pace in the past, as did the dissemination of news and not hearing or seeing, in detail, every facet of what is unfolding; somehow made it less shocking or consuming.

Trying to detach myself from the barrage of tragedies does not mean I do not care, but a person’s soul can only take so much negativity before it needs to escape to somewhere less demanding or emotionally draining.

Apart from my dalliance under the dryer I managed to escape the instant and modern world for a day of reflecting on and commemorating the spirit that makes us who we are; ironically born from determination, camaraderie and sacrifice during one of our history’s greatest tragedies. Perhaps eventually we will know if anything that might be remotely considered as a positive, arises from any of the current events.

Like many small communities the residents of Rowena held an Anzac Service, unremarkable in itself, except that there had not been a service for many, many years so it was gratifying for the organisers to have over 200 people in attendance. That’s a big crowd for Rowena!!

Rowena 1We lined the street to watch the school children, all 24 of them, either marching with our oldest Returned Serviceman or following on horseback, from the school around to our local Shire Hall.

Following a brief interval for photos whilst horses were unsaddled and re-acquainted with their floats we filed into the hall and took our seats. We found the walls and stage lined with posters and projects, researched and presented by the students that honoured the Anzacs. They also then, very capably, ran the Service.

Rowena 2Everyone had a role whether it was co-hosting from the stage, handing out sprigs of rosemary and pins as we entered, reciting the ode or playing in the band. By giving each child some ownership over the success of the event the organisers have ensured the significance of the day will remain with this generation of participants, for ever.

How do I know this? As we stood and watched the advancing march I listened to Jeff and one of our neighbours, both ex-students of Rowena Public School, recounting their own memories of Anzac Day Services and their participation in marches that followed the same route.

As per other Anzac traditions we adjourned to the pub for lunch followed by ‘poppy-topped’ cupcakes from decorator extraordinaire and publican, Cindy.

Where’s your ‘happy place’?

Mustering and Musing

Josh and Marc were away over the weekend and there was a bit of cattle work to be done so Jeff enlisted my help, a change of activity for me and a leap of faith for him!

To clarify that statement; it’s some time since my services have been required to do any mustering or drafting. That doesn’t mean I’ve been made redundant or my skill-set has become obsolete, rather it’s the joy of having the two boys at home working alongside Jeff that has afforded me some semi-retirement time from “front line activities” and also given me more time to concentrate on my role as President of CWA of NSW.

sunsetThat’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the fresh air, open spaces, change of pace, different scenery, sunshine, exercise, solitude, the company of critters, a fantastic sunset and working with Jeff. In fact it reminded me how much I had missed poking around in the “fully loaded Gauntlet Runner” (see blog post here  ‘How Hungry Are You?’) behind some of our beautiful cattle enjoying the company of Gemma; elevated to first class on the passenger seat, Marv and Sarge travelling business class in the back and Chip (by choice) in economy with his head out the door.

The mud on the seat is courtesy of Gemma and Marv who thought it a good idea to get IN the trough to drink!!

dog 1

dog 3dog 2

dog 4


Mustering and drafting with Jeff, although enjoyable, presents its challenges (as any grazier’s wife will attest) and mind reading must factor high in the female partners’ list of talents. Love you darling!

Whilst meandering about the paddock I reflected on the fact that once upon a time we would have been mustering and drafting a couple of hundred heifers with the intention of culling and selling only half of them and keeping the rest to augment our herd. Drought, however has forced us to reduce our cattle numbers to a more manageable number; so we now run less than a quarter of what we once did.

This led me to being thankful that we still have some stock. There are many north, west and south-west of us who have either completely de-stocked or are still struggling on with the daily grind of hand feeding.

Hello out there … anyone? Yes, the drought continues … just in case you were wondering.

Some are entering their fourth year of this relentless drought. Of no income. Of increasing debt. Of lack of political clout to influence change.

Many are waiting for enough rain to produce a green tinge which might make the ‘for sale’ photos look better, others are simply cutting their losses and walking away. Some are digging in, cutting costs and reducing spending to less than the bare essentials whilst others are surviving on donations from those who still believe in the future of Australian farmers.

Meanwhile the businesses in small rural communities continue to receive NO assistance at all.

Governments have removed any reference to the word “disaster” that was once attached to drought and created new policies around “drier than normal conditions” that we are to be prepared for. Fair enough, but give us the wherewithal to do that and a timeline to work towards before leaving us high and dry (excuse the pun).

Will history reflect that misguided and ill-timed policies, with no fall-back position, were the catalyst that broke an industry once considered the backbone of the nation?