When we bought a property in the Blackall district in 2001, one of the first outings I had was to the local gardening club day out. The garden was amazing, the ladies were so welcoming and the atmosphere very upbeat.

We had morning tea, toured the garden getting hints and tips on how to create an oasis in a sometimes harsh environment. I went home energised and buzzing with ideas on how to improve our run-down garden.

The simple things in life are often the best

Over the years, I was fortunate to see many amazing gardens and meet many wonderful ladies. There was the odd brave husband who would stay around to greet us before having jobs to do away from the house for the rest of the day. Perhaps it was not bravery but a bit of insider knowledge.

Maybe each of them knew the immense benefits women gained from spending time with other women who ‘get’ their struggles and understand the unique challenges women on the land face.

Sometimes all you need is to see a friendly face. Other times you need to have a good laugh and forget about the property for a day.

The importance of community groups in the bush

One day of the many gardening day outings stands out. The garden was lovely, the lunch was impressive and the wine was a real treat.

The group of ladies who had stayed for lunch were from all over the region. Some were off properties and others lived in town.

The drought had been impacting everyone for months and times were tough. It had been wonderful to have those few hours away from the property to socialise. But then something even more wonderful happened.

I noticed no-one was talking about gardening. A discussion was being held on how to get husbands to help more in the garden and around the home.

A lady in her 70s yelled out: “Greet him at the door with nothing on – works like a treat.”

On the surface, we’re a pretty conservative lot in the bush. I was initially thrown and pretty surprised when the garden talk headed in a completely new direction. But then I realised what was happening.

The conversation got real.

Women opened up about their struggles, the dark times and how many of them took antidepressants to get them through their pain and grief.

We were on the verandah, and as I took in the scene, I realised the insights being shared showed both amazing strength and generosity. As I drove away I realised what a gift this day had been.

I went home with a whole new appreciation for women on the land.