Marj Evans has dedicated 70 years bettering the lives of women and children in the Griffith area. With International Day of Rural Women falling in October, we are celebrating the lives and contributions made to Griffith by its most resilient residents: the women.
In 1956, the recently married Mrs Evans and her husband Ivor, drew prime land from a soldier's settlers ballot to begin farming rice, sheep and wheat in Hanwood on the old Kooba Station. But from the very beginning, the tough realities of life on a farm were obvious.
"When we started at the farm it was a very wet year," Mrs Evans began.
"We were very lucky to get our first choice out of the ballot, but when we went out to see the farm the only part that wasn't under flood was the part with the house."
Mrs Evans has experienced the dramatic changes of life in a rural community since her first years on her farm. Infrastructure, advancements in agricultural technology, and most importantly the evolving role of women in the community.
"I was a foundation member of the Country Women's Association in the Benerembah branch, but it closed down 10 years ago. The younger women started to work at night time helping their husbands on the farm,"
"I saw things change particularly when the GST came in and BAS statements had to be done. I found then that the wives of the farmers became very involved with the business with the book work and the running of the farm.
"The young farmer's wife today is a very busy person. And a lot of them work at their own jobs too."
While expansion of technology has meant advancements with productivity Mrs Evans said that it has come at a cost of dispersing farming communities originally formed by farm workers and their families.
"Everything has become very mechanised so there is not the need for many people to be living together on farms anymore," Mrs Evans explained.
"And when you get big machinery you buy another farm because you've got to make use of the costly machinery so that often means another family has to leave the community."
Next year Mrs Evans will celebrate her 90th birthday and after a year living through the disruption of a global pandemic, it has only reinforced her views that family togetherness and a slower pace of life are paramount to living happily.
"With the lockdown Australia wide, it's brought families a bit back together," Mrs Evans said.
"People have rediscovered a family way of living and doing things together. And this is something that children need.
"It's a wonderful life out here but you've got to take your time."