Thursday, September 7, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

QCWA Mackay Branch Celebrates 100 Years

The Mackay branch of the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) celebrated 100 years of volunteer service to the community on August 30. CWA members attended a luncheon at Western Suburbs Leagues Club where the members decorated the room with memorabilia of the last century.  

The branch welcomed special guests Julieanne Gilbert, Member for Mackay, and Mayor Greg Williamson to the occasion. On this special occasion, Rhonda Rose was presented with her 50 year service bar by Gail Pratt, Pioneer Division President.

QCWA is more than just tea and scones. Our vision is simple: for the women of Queensland to come together to support communities, celebrate their interests and forge friendships in a respectful and caring environment. This is achieved by advocating and providing opportunities for women around education, health and community throughout every phase of a woman’s life.

The Mackay Branch was formed on August 1, 1923, with 28 members attending. The first President was Mrs Stephenson, followed by Mrs Manning. By the first annual meeting the Branch had grown to 166 members. In 1953 the membership was 415 women.

In 1925, the Mackay branch conducted a Tea Booth and Rest Tent at the Mackay Show. In 1926, a shelter was built at Bakers Creek to be used by travellers and a picnic venue.

Mackay branch members were visiting hospital patients and sewing for the maternity ward in 1928. A Younger Set was started in 1929 and a group was formed at Mackay State High School.

Land was purchased in 1929 for Rest Rooms in Gordon Street. The present CWA Rest Rooms were built in 1938 at a cost of £1976. The President during this time was Mrs W A Wright who led the branch for 16 years. She worked tirelessly to raise the funds for erection of the building.

During World War II, members worked with the Red Cross to produce 1,531 knitted garments, 1,031 camouflage nets, reconditioned uniforms, make cakes, send money to Britain for food and provide drums of dripping to make soap.

By 1947, the Mackay Rest Rooms became a designated Waiting Mother’s Hostel. The Rest Rooms also accommodated miners, TAFE students and casuals. The hostel closed in 2002.  

In 1948, the Mackay branch purchased a cottage at Bucasia for holiday accommodation at a reasonable rate to country families. The Bucasia beach cottage was sold in 2006.

In 2016, Country Kitchens was introduced. The QCWA Country Kitchens program is a health promotion program supporting communities across Queensland to adopt healthier lifestyle behaviours. It is a partnership between the QCWA and the Queensland Government, funded through Health and Wellbeing Queensland.

The Mackay branch continues to support the Rural Crisis Fund, knitting, crochet, cookery, floral art, handcraft, country of study, product of the year, school children’s competitions, patchwork, public speaking and photography. In 2007, Rhonda Rose won the State Fundraiser of the Year. The branch has held fetes, catering raffles, hoys and cent sales in volunteering for Mackay charities and disasters.

The hall is in constant demand with many organisations using it on a regular basis. It is used for meetings, fundraisers, parties, teaching arts and crafts, card and car clubs and church services.

The Mackay branch thanks the community for its long and continued support. We welcome new members and encourage women to strengthen their families and our country. The QCWA hopes to be a helping hand and provide a space for friendship, connection and collaboration for the next 100 years.

Contributed by Sandra Amoore, President, QCWA Mackay Branch

Julieanne Gilbert MP, Sandra Amoore and Mayor Greg Williamson

Rhonda Rose and Sandra Amoore. Photos supplied

In other news