The Walcha Historical Society recently held a high tea event at the Walcha Pioneer Cottage Museum and the highlight of the afternoon was the viewing of some of the museum’s collection of clothing dating from the 1920’s and 30’s.
Founding Historical Society member Jillian Oppenheimer has donated some of her grandmother’s clothes, and she spoke about these and the lady who wore them on the day.
Grace Munro, MBE was the first president of the Country Women's Association and spent most of her life in northern NSW. Mrs Munro frequently visited Walcha where her only daughter, Nancy Nivison lived. Grace Munro's ancestors: the Gordons; Munros and Macdonalds lived in northern NSW from the 1830s.
The Nivison family came to the Walcha district in early 1840, where their descendants have lived for over 180 years.
In 1922 Grace Munro organised a conference in Sydney to establish the Country Women's Association of New South Wale. It quickly grew to include most of New South Wales’ rural areas, and then expanded into Queensland and New Guinea.
“We had on display an example of the clothes Grace wore to official and regional functions when she was travelling to encourage isolated country women to come together to support families, and to establish rest rooms and holiday homes for country mothers and children, and also hospitals for rural mothers and their children,” Mrs Oppenheimer said.
“The clothes worn between WW1 and WW2 show that women had learnt to wear practical shorter dresses - loose flowing designs that did not constrict their movements. For evening functions they frequently wore black dresses, and in summer they were loose flowing, comfortable designs, that enabled the wearer to drive a car, move easily, and feel comfortable wherever they walked or drove.”
Fellow member Truda Newman said the collection of costumes on display had mainly been donated by families of the district over the years.
“Unfortunately the records are very sketchy,” Mrs Newman said.
“Some arrived in a trunk with a family’s name on it, but with no details of who wore what while some were donated with no information at all.”
The display on the day featured afternoon a range of women’s and girl’s dresses.