A WOW Weekend in Longreach

The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) was pleased to experience the inaugural WOW Western Queensland Festival in Longreach from 4-6 March 2022.

After COVID-postponement in 2021, WOW Longreach forged ahead despite flood impacts to share three days of mentoring, storytelling, conversations and performances curated for and by the women and girls of Western Queensland, on the traditional land of the Iningai and Bidjara people, and coinciding with Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day.

In attendance from TFFF were Trustee Gina Fairfax, Advisor Sarah O’Brien, and Program Coordinator Hannah Barr.

Red Ridge the Label – Canvas to Catwalk. Credit: Skinn Deep Photography.

In the spirit of First Nations First, WOW Longreach opened on Friday 4 March with an evening of Aboriginal storytelling, centered around the Red Ridge the Label’sCanvas to Catwalk fashion show. As at WOW Charleville in 2021, the catwalk experience presented the Label’s Diamantina and Georgina collections featuring artwork from Two Sisters Talking (Anpanuawa) Joyce Crombie and (Aulpunda) Jean Barr Crombie, and modelled by local women and girls. A unique Longreach addition was the performance of Matya (Long Ago) – a creation story of the sun and the moon – with special costumes showcasing the work of local Aboriginal artists, presented in collaboration with the Central West Aboriginal Corporation. The Mayor of Blackall-Tambo and Chair of Red Ridge Interior Queensland, Andrew Martin, shared an update on the Label’s achievements to date, including creating local jobs, selling out its online store and reaching an international market.

Gina Fairfax and Marilyn Trad in matching Magpie Goose at the WOW Marketplace. Credit: Albert & Nez Santos.

The morning of Saturday 5 March saw an abundance of opportunities to support local makers. The forecourt of the Longreach Civic and Cultural Centre was transformed into a marketplace, which remained throughout the weekend, featuring stalls with leatherwork, pottery, photography, jewelry, quilting, and Red Ridge the Label retailing garments straight from the catwalk.  

Dame Quentin Bryce delivering the keynote address of WOW Longreach. Credit: Albert & Nez Santos.


The Co-Patron of WOW Australia, The Hon. Dame Quentin Bryce, formally commenced Saturday’s proceedings with a stirring address sharing rich reflections on the progress achieved in the movement for gender equality and the persisting and new challenges women and girls still face. Quoting Justice Gaudron QC, the first female Justice of Australia’s High Court —
“We got equal pay once, then we got it again, but we still haven’t got it,” — provided the perfect launchpad for a weekend rich with conversation, acknowledging and listening to trail-blazing women with many lessons to share, and also recognising the need to pass the microphone to younger generations who will continue to advocate for change.

The programme centrepiece on Sunday 6 March was 30 Years of Landline Women, facilitated by Landline’s host Pip Courtney and featuring three generations of women from the land including Elizabeth ‘Thumper’ Clark, Keelen Mailman and Joy McClymont.

It was followed by a WOW Bites session, featuring short inspirational stories from Two Sisters Talking artists on their Canvas to Catwalk journey, Selena Gomersall from Outback Futures (also a TFFF-funded organisation) on ‘your story is written in pencil not pen’ and Sheila Campbell on the QCWA’s Centenary year in 2022.  The weekend culminated with an International Women’s Day lunch and The Future is Ours, a conversation between next generation women, including TFFF Advisor Sarah O’Brien.

The Future is Ours panel featuring TFFF Advisor Sarah O’Brien. Credit: Albert & Nez Santos.

TFFF extends its congratulations the WOW Australia team, lead by CEO Cathy Hunt, on delivering a marvellous cultural occasion in partnership with the women and girls of Western Queensland. After three packed days listening to conversations and storytelling, TFFF is thankful for the experience and enriched in its understanding of the daily resilience and solutions-based thinking required by the rural, regional and remote communities that it supports.

Click here to access the WOW Longreach photo album.

Mana Nui performing in the WOW Marketplace. Credit: Albert & Nez Santos.

WOW has two more community festivals upcoming in 2022: WOW Cairns from 13-14 May and WOW Logan from 15-16 July.

Visit the WOW Australia website to learn more about the movement’s history in Queensland.