Beach To Bush These coun­try women have bared all for a char­ity cal­en­dar

These brave and beau­ti­ful ladies of the land stripped to their swim­mers to help beat the drought

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

The bold de­ci­sion to strip off for a swim­suit cal­en­dar and pose on the parched plains of out­back NSW was sheer ne­ces­sity for a band of big-hearted coun­try women – in­clud­ing fifth-gen­er­a­tion farmer 88-year-old Pat Re­gan!

“We’re in the midst of the long­est drought I’ve ever seen and mod­el­ling in our cossies seemed like a good way to raise money for our strug­gling farm­ers and to have a good laugh at the same time,” says Pat, a great-grand­mother of 17.

Nine mem­bers of the Carinda Sewing Club stitched up the idea for the in­au­gu­ral Beach To Bush swim­suit cal­en­dar as they sat mak­ing a quilt for Aus­tralia’s Big­gest Morn­ing Tea.

Farmer Toni Garnsey, 52, came up with the brain­child, telling the ladies, “We can wear our cossies, work­boots and

Acubras and pose in our dried-up dams.”

For the women, it was the per­fect call to ac­tion as they prayed for rain to break the sev­enyear drought that has dec­i­mated their crops and live­stock in the worst drought in 100 years.

STRESS­FUL TIMES

“There’s not a blade of grass – all the dams and creeks are bone dry and peo­ple have been re­ly­ing on food drops and vouch­ers,” says cal­en­dar or­gan­iser and rookie model Maz Saun­ders, 55, who man­ages a cot­ton farm in Carinda, which has a pop­u­la­tion of just 40.

“The stress lev­els are so high for all the farm­ers who have lost mil­lions of dol­lars, and although we had an inch of rain re­cently that only made the weeds grow.

“With our Beach To Bush cal­en­dar we want to make some money for lo­cal char­i­ties, in­clud­ing Drought An­gels, and we also want to en­cour­age women to dare to bare their bod­ies – there’s no pho­to­shop­ping in our cal­en­dar, we’re show­ing all our lumps and bumps.”

It’s been eight years since sheep farmer Loretta Robin­son, 63, has had a hol­i­day or put on a swim­suit but she was ea­ger to be pho­tographed by lo­cal farmer Sue Cur­rey, who made time be­tween hand­feed­ing her own stock to pic­ture the ladies amid the bar­ren plains.

“If our cal­en­dar can spot­light just how bad it is out here, then it will all be worth it,” says Loretta, who hand feeds 67 lambs daily. “And we all had such fun do­ing it – just get­ting the chance to get off our places and have a beer and a chat in­stead of wor­ry­ing about when the rain will come was a re­lief.”

Liv­ing an eight-and-a-halfhour drive from the near­est beach, the Sewing Club ladies of Carinda are sup­ported in their cal­en­dar quest by Anita Mclach­lan, who owns on­line swimwear store Se­quins and Sand, based in Bris­bane, and has founded the Cossie Con­fi­dence move­ment.

“I wanted to be in­volved with the Beach To Bush cal­en­dar to help spread the mes­sage of em­pow­er­ing women in their bod­ies and also high­light the im­por­tant mes­sage of how tough peo­ple are do­ing it on the land,” Anita says.

“Anita is won­der­ful,” says Maz. “She’s man­aged to pick swimwear to suit all of us – we’re all shapes and sizes, rang­ing from size 12 to 20, and all ages from 28 to our 88-year-old town ma­tri­arch Pat. . We all felt fab­u­lous in our cossies.” .”

OUR NEXT TOP MODEL

And oc­to­ge­nar­ian Pat may even n be a con­vert to hav­ing the oc­ca­sional spray tan af­ter over­com­ing the ini­tial shock of stand­ing in her undies as a lo­cal beau­ti­cian gave her a sun-kissed glow for the pho­to­shoot.

“The tan looks good on my arms and legs,” says Pat, a breast­cancer sur­vivor, who posed un­der an um­brella in a boat on a dry creek bed for the cal­en­dar. “It might have even cov­ered up a few of my wrin­kles!”

‘We want to en­cour­age women to dare to bare their bod­ies’

The near­est beach is more than 380km away but no one seemed to care!

The racy pho­to­shoot was a chance for many of the women to have a break from their farms. “I didn’t think I’d be seen in a swim­suit at 88,” says Pat.

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