02 Jul Ten Forty Zoom Discussion 13 June – WOMEN’S LAND
On Saturday the 13 June I participated in my first Zoom experience. I can see how it’s taking off, and how it could be a useful means of discussion and decision making for a group such as ours. As a participant, (not a facilitator or organizer of the session), it was pain-free and a couple of entertaining hours. It surprised me we went on for so long.
It wasn’t dissimilar to a regular meeting, with adjustments and shufflings, faces disappearing and reappearing, instructions with no audio as some of us grappled with the buttons to push. (I should say “I” and not speak for others!)
It was an experience sharing event for those associated with the Women’s Lands in New South Wales. Some of us, to this day, have never met. Despite long term involvement, there have been different eras of participating women. To see these faces all together was heartwarming.
Information for a new era, those interested in learning more or getting involved was also passed about. A bit of PR perhaps to reinvigorate us and inspire enthusiastic, strong and lithe new women to take the lands into the long distance future alongside the old timers…
Sand acknowledged the Biripi Nation traditional owners and jump-started us with a slideshow of early days of bush, bodies and buildings (sorry…can never resist alliteration) which fast-forwarded into more recent photos, comparisons of then and now, of well-attended gatherings and of the damage wrought by the 2020 fire season. Heart crushing to see some of the structures in Herland and The Valley; forty year plus repositories of memories, wisdoms, silliness and courageousness, reduced to blankets of ash and blackened stumps. The Mountain has been spared for the time being. As Margot pointed out, some of the structures were long past their use-by date and we now have a chance to rebuild with less nostalgia to inhibit progress and, to keep the history alive, we do have diligent and significant photo records taken over time by, notably, Sand, Helen Grace, Margot (and many more). Some of the photos Sand showed were new to me personally and I always get a buzz from previously unseen ones.
The very first slide, locating the lands in the ranges near Wirrikimbe National Park and Mt Boss State Forest, reminded me of just how magnificent the location is, how grateful I am to the foresight and determination of the founders and how fortunate we are to have this legacy of protected wilderness and women’s space.
It was encouraging to see so many women gathered around the fire pit at last year’s event. Sand indicated close to 90 went. At The Valley the year before up to 66 turned up. That’s impressive and speaks of the dedication of all the women putting in the time and effort to make these events happen and to encourage interest from a new generation.
Some members shared anecdotes of their personal experiences. Sand and Margot provided genesis information and Margot reminded us that Herland was acquired by her and Janne Ellen, and somewhat more easily financially than Amazon Acres, (which I remember as being very difficult at the time.)
All in all, there are about 3000 acres of land in women’s hands including Wanderground (formerly Tout’s) and Forever Land. We didn’t go into any differences in philosophy between the collective owned lands, if there is any; a subject it may be interesting to explore another time.
Anneke Deutsch talked about a women’s retirement village being built in Daylesford which has a place in this discussion given it is another solution to the matter of women controlled spaces, albeit not as removed from the world as the women’s lands, and a lot more appealing to ageing bladders and bones.
There was a query about animal life. Snake cautioning as ever, and there are populations of wild dogs, pademelons and goannas. Rabbits are not apparently prevalent on Herland, although they once were on The Mountain. We failed to mention quolls which have made a nuisance of themselves in sleeping hours and gallivanting on tin roofs.
Victoria, a new face amidst the oldies, told us she’d only recently heard of the Lands and is interested in going to the next gathering. Sand advised of Tashe’s presence in Wauchope, who is very willing to facilitate newcomers and she will pass on contact details.
As I don’t know if I’ll ever get to Herland or The Valley, let alone up to The Mountain again it was heartwarming to be reminded of the new, and it seems, increasing interest.
I apologise for not mentioning everyone who was Zooming. This is a bit like a bad job of taking minutes….
Thanks to Diann, Pearlie and Sand for organising, and Jan Aitken for her no-nonsense cat wrangling facilitation.