Merimbula event to connect rural women

Empowering women: Rural Women's Gathering 2018 Merimbula bid members Christine Welsh, Linda Mayo, April and Jasper Merrick, Lynn Aston and Janet Maughan. PIcture: Melanie Leach

Empowering women: Rural Women's Gathering 2018 Merimbula bid members Christine Welsh, Linda Mayo, April and Jasper Merrick, Lynn Aston and Janet Maughan. PIcture: Melanie Leach

Merimbula is set to become the first coastal town to host the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering.

The annual weekend event, which first started in Orange in 1993, seeks to provide rural women with support, information and skills to enable them to address the myriad of challenges they face as a result of living in a rural location in Australia. 

The Merimbula gathering, which is scheduled for October 2018, should see between 200 and 400 women descend on the town to enjoy a range of activities including workshops, a gala dinner, tours of the area including whale watching and networking opportunities with guest speakers. 

In February this year, after Julie Novotny, of Sapphire Coast Business Networking, shared her idea for Merimbula to host the gathering, a bid committee was formed. 

For months a group of local women worked tirelessly gaining support from women, businesses, organisations and Council and at the start of last week at around midnight on Monday, May 8, they were informed that their hard work had paid off and Merimbula had won the rights to host the event, beating out several other towns. 

Merimbula Bid Committee chair Christine Welsh said it took a few days for the good news to really sink in. 

“We are all stoked, this is big news for the town and a real opportunity to showcase the Sapphire Coast on a state level,” Ms Welsh said. 

Merimbula resident April Merrick said the theme for the event will be Sapphire Coast Connections, highlighting the idea that although people are scattered and isolated they can connect through technology and common interests. 

“We want women to connect to the coast, connect to nature and most importantly, connect with each other,” Ms Merrick said. 

Fellow committee member Linda Mayo said the beauty of the gatherings is that they aren't only for rural women they are also great for rural economies, with each town typically benefiting from a more than $300,000 boost to the economy. 

Ms Mayo said while the bid committee is still very excited, they have already stopped celebrating and are back at work. 

“We have a lot of work to do over the next 18 months, we need to form a new committee, and get more volunteers, the more the merrier,” she said. 

The Rural Women’s Gathering bid committee is holding an open meeting calling for expressions of interest from those wanting to get involved on Monday, May 22 at the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre at 5:30pm. 

All local women, young and old, are invited to attend. 

For more information email sapphirecoastconnections@gmail.com

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