It’s been a while since I’ve managed a This Writing Life post. The last one was back in July (yikes!) when I shared piccies from Taronga Zoo.

It’s not that I haven’t been doing things. I’ve been out and about quite a bit this year. It’s more a matter of squeezing in the time to do up the posts. My number one priority is writing books and that sometimes means that the blog must miss out.

But not this week!

In a better-late-than-never post, today I’m sharing photos from the 2017 New South Wales Rural Women’s Gathering held in Narrandera, Friday October 27th to 29th.

What a brilliant weekend.

I have fellow rural romance author Jane Carter (new release: Prodigal Daughter) to thank for my attendance at this event. Jane is a Narrandera local and suggested at the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia conference that we could present a writing workshop at the Gathering, and I jumped at the chance. I am so, so glad I did because I had a BALL.

Me and Jane Carter at our trade stall.

Me and Jane Carter at our trade stall.

The women I met and heard talk were amazing. There was Jane, of course, but also Narrandera’s newly elected local NSW Member of Parliament Steph Cooke, who gave a very funny opening speech (and gave me an excellent idea for a character). Plus Kate O’Callaghan, general manager of Southern Cotton, Dame Marie Bashir, former Narrandera local and second longest serving Governor of NSW (among other achievements).

Betina Walker of Whispering Pines Organics related her incredible and inspirational story at the gala dinner, and who you can learn more about in a video here. We were also entertained with talks from Rosalie Ham, author of The Dressmaker, and Sue Maslin, the producer of its hit film.

There was also Fran McLaughlin from Big River Herbs at Narrandera, Jane Sibley from Hilltops Honey at Young, and winemaker Belinda Morandin from Morandin Family Wines at Griffith, Jane’s friend Tracey Boschetti, and that’s just to name a few of the rural women at the event who demonstrated the success that can be achieved with a bit of grit and self-belief. Wonderful, wonderful.

Besides the keynote speeches and trade stalls, there were also plenty of workshops covering everything from getting friendly with your chainsaw, to estate planning, how to be fire wise, secrets to community engagement, flamenco, making mead, rural mental health and much, much more. The full program can be found here.

Next year’s gathering is at Merimbula, on NSW’s beautiful, southern Sapphire Coast, on 19th – 21st October. I’m marking my diary. For more info, check out the 2018 Gathering website.

Now here’s a few happy snaps from the weekend. Enjoy!

Nothing like a road trip, especially when there’s sweet things involved, and Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory hit the spot. But it was the truck artwork outside Gasworks Garage opposite that really put a smile on my face.

Gasworks Garage's cute truck and animal sculpure, Junee

Opening night of the Gathering was at the Fisheries Travelling Stock Reserve where we shared a variety of “bush food” prepared by local Wiradjuri Elder Michael Lyons, including kangaroo curry and witchetty grubs, along with lovely local wine.

Dame Marie Bashir at the 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering,

Dame Marie Bashir. Couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous evening for the opening.

Me, Jane Carter and Tracey Boschetti enjoyed some local wine.

Me, Jane Carter and Tracey Boschetti enjoyed some local wine.

Once darkness fell, we were treated to the Cad Factory’s open-air video, sound, light and textile artwork, Shadow Places. Sadly, the photos don’t do it justice, but it was certainly intriguing and a lovely way to end the evening.

One of the Shadowlands art installation.

This was an ever changing video projected on to large square haybales. Visually stunning.

A Shadowlands art installation.

This one was very Blair Witch Project. Remember the scary film from the late 90s?

Shadowlands art installation

This one was pretty but also a little alien. I kept thinking something was about to hatch from it.

Gathering 'ear tag' lanyard

Loved our Gathering lanyards made of cattle ear tags. And having the program attached proved a veeeeery handy thing!

2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Celebratory cake cutting on the Saturday of 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

gala dinner 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Gala dinner yumminess!

Rosalie Ham at the 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Rosalie Ham entertaining us with how she came to write The Dressmaker.

Table decoration, 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

The tables at the gala dinner were cleverly decorated with a dressmaker theme. We were even given cute little pin cushions to take home.

2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Raffle draw and thank yous at the dinner. Followed by dancing. Such fun!

I hope you enjoyed this small insight into the terrific event that is the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering. If you get the chance, come along to the next one in Merimbula. I promise you’ll leave it feeling truly inspired.

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