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
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.
“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.