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1992 Numurkah WoFG

Participants, Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah 1992

Image: Participants, Women on Farms Gathering, Numurkah 1992

Source: Museum Victoria

Date: 3-5 April 1992.

Location: Numurkah Secondary College.

Theme: Pride in Agriculture, Pride in Ourselves. According to an information sheet that was disseminated to Gathering participants, "the Gathering theme will foster amongst the participants a positive feeling for agriculture, also bringing with it a recognition and a sense of pride in the crucial role that women play on farms."

Icon: Irrigation Shovel and Cow Pat

Highlights: Following on from the successful tour that was offered at the 1991 Sea Lake Gathering, the Numurkah Gathering opened with a farm tour on the Friday afternoon, and continued with more tours on the Saturday and Sunday. According to the Gathering Proceedings, "the highlight of the weekend for many participants appeared to be the tours. People new to the area were enthralled with the way things operate in the area." Through visiting local enterprises and witnessing them first hand, the 170 participants who attended the Sea Lake Gathering were able to learn about the diversity of farming in the region, and the unique challenges that Sea Lake farmers faced in a time of drought. Six farming women also shared their stories during the Gathering. The problems they had encountered over the years were conveyed with humour, and ranged from marrying into a family farm, to a narrow escape with a snake-infested gumboot! Celie Moar from Goschen, for example, spoke about how having a sense of humour is paramount for survival on Mallee farms. She described her experience of bringing the family to the back paddock to have dinner, because her husband was so busy ploughing that he didn't have time to come inside to eat.

The keynote speaker for the Numurkah Gathering was Lynne Johnstone, who travelled more than 3000 kilometres from her property near Bokal in Western Australia to give her talk on the Gathering's theme 'Pride in Agriculture, Pride in Ourselves.' According to the Numurkah Gathering Proceedings, Lynne "inspired many of those present with her positive and thought-provoking address on the role of women in agriculture and rural communities." She argued that rural women need to stand up for themselves and be recognised as equal farmers to men: "The archaic convention of the male progenitor is long overdue for a change. This very English tradition which exists to ensure that the family name stays with the land and therefore only the sons can inherit is an obscenity, an offence against all women." Lynn's speech was listed as a highlight of the Gathering in the evaluation surveys, with other notable highlights being networking, meeting old and new friends, women's stories and workshops.

According to the 1992 Numurkah Gathering Proceedings, 'That women farmers enjoy these annual 'get togethers' is obvious as many are already making preparations to meet again in 1993 at Tallangatta."

Tours: Tours to private farms included a tour to an orchard (citrus) farm and a dairy farm. Participants also travelled to Monichinio's Winery and the Salinity Program Advisory Council organised an environmental tour that included an educational talk about soil salinity.

Workshops: Transferring the Family Farm, Setting Your Sights, Believing in Ourselves, Saying No and Yes, Relaxation and Meditation, Healthy Living, Managing Change, Getting the Message Across, Journal Writing, Understanding the Economics of Agriculture, Speak Up and Speak Out, Small Business Ventures, Farm Tourism Opportunities, Marketing Our Products, Landcare and Chemicals, Farming and the Environment, Biodynamic Farming, Where to Now With all These Figures, Using the Media, How Groups Work, Meetings Make the World Go Round, Effecting Change, What's Involved in Being Involved, Conflict Resolution, Behind the Scenes with Finance.

Reflections:

"The richness and diversity of farming women's experiences was staggering. Participants represented almost every agricultural enterprise imaginable and spanned an age-range of more than half a century... there was a broad agreement the Gathering needs to be vocal, credible, effective, visible and ongoing." Numurkah Gathering Proceedings, 1992.

"My first Gathering was Numurkah 1992. At the time my children were in their late teens and early twenties and it was the first time since I'd been married that I'd gone away with other women - the freedom of not having to cook, clean, wash and milk cows for two days was great... I came away inspired by what ordinary farming women were doing." Margaret Gray, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.

"[Speaker] Celie Moar provided the evidence that a sense of humour is a paramount necessity for the survival on Mallee farms. She took the Sunday dinner table to the back paddock, where her husband was forever ploughing, so the family could sit down for a meal together." Anonymous, Numurkah Gathering Proceedings, 1992.

Related Stories:

History of Victorian Women on Farms Gatherings
Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection

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