The Rural Women’s Gathering was, a little bit of rain aside, a wonderful success for Narrandera.
Around 250 women were registered to attend the event, which took place from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. The Gathering began at the Buckingbong Travelling Stock Reserve, where the attendees were offered a welcome to country by Dr Uncle Stan Grant and Amber Poole.
Chair of the Rural Women’s Gathering Committee Tammy Galvin announced to the audience that the Gathering would be Dr Grant’s last public appearance.
“Dr Uncle Stan Grant is a Doctor of Letters and he has been a crucial part of reconstructing the Wiradjuri language,” Ms Galvin said. “He has written several books, including the Wirad-juri dictionary, which is now the key teaching tool for students learning Wiradjuri.”
With that in mind, Dr Grant gave the welcome in both Wiradjuri and English.
“I want to talk to you in a language that is foreign to you, but I will translate,” Dr Grant said.
After Dr Grant’s welcome to country, one of his young students, Amber Poole, stepped forward and gave her own welcome.
“Us old ones have to hand it over to the young ones and who better to take it here on than this beautiful young woman,” Dr Grant said.
After a supper provided by Michael Lyons and drinks supplied by Trent Light (and Vincent), the audience gathered to hear a speech from Professor Dame Marie Bashir.
Allowing MC Kristen Clancy to introduce her as “Marie from Narrandera”, Professor Bashir talked at length about her childhood in Narrandera, meeting her husband, and the enormous great fortune that has been bestowed upon Narrandera.
“It is a pleasure to be amongst these extraordinary women whose forebears built this country – supported by the men,” Professor Bashir said. “These rural women, there can be no other contributors to the fact that Australia is such a harmonious country. I have friends who come from other countries to visit, and they say that Australians treat them like extended family. They say that Australians never talk down to them. Thank you for inviting me, because coming home to Narrandera is always such a joy.”
Professor Bashir was just one of many fascinating guest speakers over the weekend, who all spoke on a variety of topics from farm income protection insurance to making films to building a successful organic business after years of drought and flood.
The purpose of having the opening at the stock reserve was to showcase Vic and Sarah McEwan’s magnificent exhibition Shadow Places.
A term coined by philosopher Val Plumwood, Shadow Places refers to spaces that people rely on, but do not necessarily know anything about. The exhibition was a series of light and sound projections onto objects such as hay bales, dam banks and trees. The topics covered by the exhibition included the traditional Wiradjuri story of the Murrumbidgee River’s origins, a selection of poetry projected onto a dam bank, the tall tales from St Joseph’s year 5 students, and a discussion of Val Plumwood’s environmental philosophies.
The success, organisation and friendly atmosphere of the Gathering was achieved through the hard work of the Rural Women’s Gathering committee. Tammy Galvin, Josie Marks, Fran Macdonald, Mary-Anne Lattimore, Carolle Leach, Kimberley Beattie, Jane Carter, Charmaine Lee, Leonie Napier, Lee Reavley, Fran McLaughlin, Stacie Carroll, Kristen Clancy, Kerry Sproston, Marilyn Manning, Sharyn Rowlands, Beryl Brain, Jacinta Hayward and Lee Sweeney all worked tremendously hard for over 18 months to create the Gathering and their hard work and effort should not go unnoticed.