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2000 Yarra Valley (Healesville) WoFG

Participants at the 2000 Yarra Valley Women on Farms Gathering

Image: Participants at the 2000 Yarra Valley Women on Farms Gathering

Source: Museum Victoria

Date: 31 March - 2 April, 2000.

Location: Healesville TAFE.

Theme: Dare to Dream: Women Farming the New Millennium. According to the Healesville Program, this theme was selected "to celebrate the progress and personal growth of rural women to be prepared to challenge ourselves and the agricultural sector as we move forward into the new millennium and to inspire women to achieve personal goals and dreams."

Icon: Horseshoe

Highlights: Over 200 women attended the 2000 Yarra Valley (Healesville) Gathering, which began on the Friday night with an informal spit roast dinner. During this dinner, two local women shared their stories. The following morning the Gathering was officially opened with a traditional Aboriginal welcome and a guest appearance by Australian philanthropist Dame Elizabeth Murdoch. Keynote speaker Susan Halliday (Sex Discrimination Commissioner) gave a speech addressing human rights issues facing rural, remote and regional Australia.

Following this women broke off into their workshops and tours for the day. With the Yarra Valley being one of Victoria's prime wine and cheese regions the Viticulture Tour and the Cheese and Wine Tour were so popular and oversubscribed that some women missed out! Everyone was able to enjoy the local produce of the region at the Saturday evening dinner though, which was held at De Bortoli's Winery. During this dinner, television personality Bridget Adams spoke of her life on a cattle station in Central Queensland, as well as her experience of working as a television presenter for 'The Great Outdoors.' Women were also entertained by a performance of the song, 'Dare to Dream', which was written by Briony King to reflect the Gathering's theme.

The following morning, an ecumenical service was held and everyone was then invited to listen to more women's stories. Author and motivational speaker Amanda Gore entertained guests for almost two hours and many Gathering participants listed it as a highlight of the Gathering. Ending on an uplifting and entertaining note, the Gathering culminated in the official Closing Ceremony, which included the 'hand over' to the next year's Gathering - the 2001 North East (Beechworth) Gathering.

Tours: Viticulture Tour, Horticultural Tour, Cheese and Wine Tour, Car Maintenance Tour, Biodynamics Tour, Yarra Valley Regional Food Tour, Equine Tour, Lavender and Garden Tour.

Workshops: There were over fifty workshops held at the Healesville Gathering. Some of the highlights included: Leadership and Local Government, Establishing a Bed and Breakfast, Heritage Walk, Horticultural Production, The Internet and Farm Safety for Women and Children.

Reflections:

"As I had been on the committee at Warragul in 1999, it was great just to be part of it with out having to worry about the running of thing[s]. All those who have organised a gathering know what a big commitment it is. This group did an excellent job. The venue was the hall in the main street of Healesville so we were very central. Our accommodation was an Old World guesthouse. The workshop Friday night was a footbath to help us unwind. Another was a fitness walk from the township to a pottery near [Healesville] Sanctuary which was a fairly decent, fast walk. Then I had basket making with an aboriginal lady who was a very good teacher. The tour was cheese and wine, and we got to taste lots of different cheeses, but the highlight which we didn't know about until we were on our way was Dame Nelly Melba's home which her granddaughter still lives in. It is heritage trust managed, I think. Her granddaughter made us very welcome and showed us around the house and gave us a free run of the garden. The dinner Saturday night was a De Bortoli winery in a marquee quite away out of Healesville so we all travelled on buses a night not to be forgotten (just as well we had a bus to take us home). Sunday morning our motivational speaker was Amanda Gore, how she stood on stage for two hours solid and made us laugh till our sides ached I'll never know. We all got on the bus to go home still laughing and I couldn't take the grin off my face for a week. Laughter certainly is the best medicine." Margaret Gray, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.

"Lovely gathering, warm bubbly ladies on stage. I had great respect for the extra-ordinary ladies taking turns on the stage. Chemical workshop and I had lots of questions. Then the tour!! We went to a biodynamic (sic) farm. Speaker took the day off, so the person running the tour was thrown in. This man knew very little, but was told to get us to build a compost heap before we were given afternoon tea. A couple of Yarram women, myself included, were quick to put the pipes down and cover in hay biscuits. Ah, we had done our job. Alas, after 15 min, very few others were helping. So in again. We had to cover the hay with rotten pumpkin, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, tomato," potato - poo it all stank! We hand shovelled this ""rotten muck"" onto the hay", then a layer of hay. Continue until 2 metres high. Then wet thoroughly with water. We found which women were workers, we deserved out tea and we stank. Discussions that evening, other tours had dined like ladies & toured Dame Nelly Melba's large house. We were in envy. What a memory." Valerie Colbert, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.

"The friendly group filling the bags with goodies from the Yarra Valley - "Join In", they said, so I did. Meeting Judy Anderson (now a close friend), who made us so welcome at her biodynamic wine/vegie property. The weight of our history being built around us - so many touching, inspiring stories." Noel Ridgeway, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.

Related Stories:

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

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