Telling 'our' stories

BUSH journalism is not dead, dying or going anywhere.

Voices in the bush. Pictured from left are Sally Nicol-Rigney, Macintye Young Writers' President and award-winning writer,  Wendy Forsyth, MYW member, Heather-Haley Scanlan and Penelope Arthur.

Voices in the bush. Pictured from left are Sally Nicol-Rigney, Macintye Young Writers' President and award-winning writer, Wendy Forsyth, MYW member, Heather-Haley Scanlan and Penelope Arthur.

That was the message from two guest speakers Penelope Arthur and Sally Nicol-Rigney who spoke at a “Voice of the Bush” dinner in Goondiwindi.

The joint venture of Border Women In Business and The Macintyre Young Writers attracted 70 guests, both men and women to hear from two journalists who have had careers others can only dream of.

The first-ever woman Editor of the ‘Bush Bible,” the Queensland Country Life, Penelope Arthur never had great ambitions to break through the glass ceiling, but rather worked “really hard” and was in the right place at the right time.

“Sometimes I feel like I am the Steven Bradbury of the Journalism world,” Penelope joked.

(Steven John Bradbury OAM is a former Australian short track speed skater and four-time Olympian, who won the 1,000 m event at the 2002 Winter Olympics after all of his opponents were involved in a last corner pile-up. He was the first Australian to win a Winter Olympic gold medal)

Penelope is more proud she became the first Editor to live outside of Brisbane, working mostly from her property on the outskirts of Roma where she lives with her “very understanding” husband and three young boys.

Sally also balances rural life and motherhood living with her family on her dream property 30 minutes from St George, lending her hand to every community group and event within a 200km radius.

Once the ABC radio’s leading lady, Sally now embraces freelance journalism and public relations work and has been a key facilitator in growing the Weengallon Pinck Ladies Day to the success story it has become today.

A small community event that gained extensive coverage in 215 including Channel 10’s, The Project.

“I believe that if we want to create energetic, vibrant rural communities then we need to roll up our sleeves and make it happen,” Sally said.

When Sally was growing up she wanted her life to be like a Lucy Walker novel, which she admits it now is, “just even better”.

Both women have followed their journalism passion while making lives for themselves hundreds of miles from a city centre.

“Success is finding where you belong, embracing it and enjoying it,“ Sally said.

The event that went for several hours had the audience riveted with their stories of love, career and the country.

While freelance journalist Sally is quite as optimistic as Penelope about the future of rural press she does believes that Australia needs rural industry to survive and they are always going to want to know about it.

Penelope believes that rural papers and journalists aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. It is more a case of a shift in perception. There may be an increase in online news activity, however the printed word isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“There will always be stories in the bush, and while there is, we will be around to tell them,” Penelope said.