Date: 16-18 March 2004.
Location: Horsham Town Hall.
Theme: Happy, Healthy and Having a Go. According to Chair of the Horsham Gathering Organising Committee, Christine May: "The theme set the pace for women to be challenged in making the time and taking opportunities specifically for themselves, but also to share their friendship and skills with many like-minded participants during the weekend's activities."
Icon: Harvester Cogs
Highlights: Appearing in the Horsham Town Hall for the entirety of the Gathering was a series of glass display units containing objects and stories from past Women on Farms Gatherings. This was the first time that objects from the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Collection had been publicly displayed at a Gathering, and it was considered by many women to be a highlight of the Horsham Gathering. According to participant and Gathering Chairman Christine May, "The Museum Victoria display of the Heritage Collection of all the past Women on Farms Gatherings was truly a major highlight - this unique collection is now beautifully displayed and cared for and we will have many years to trek back down memory lane as we watch the display grow."
As well as celebrating the history and heritage of past Gatherings, the Horsham Gathering also celebrated women's stories. At the celebratory dinner on the Saturday night, women were entertained with the story of Brigitte Muir - the first Australian, and the first woman, to climb the 'Seven Summits' (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents). The Horsham Gathering Proceedings concluded that "Brigitte showed how if you have a will, you have a way. How true this is in relation to women in farming and rural environments." The entertainment on the Saturday evening also included a fashion parade that featured garments made from materials sourced from farm yards, sheds and paddocks! This was well-received by the audience, who were humoured by the eclectic and innovative designs. Professional speakers Patricia Cameron Hill and Shayne Yates also presented their stories to Gathering participants during two "Laughing Sessions", in which it was argued that "laughter is the best medicine."
According to the evaluation sheets that were completed by attendees at the end of the Gathering, these laughing sessions were also a favourite feature of the Gathering. The closing ceremony on Sunday saw the Horsham committee presenting their icon - the Harvester Cogs - to the following year's committee - the committee for the 2005 Benalla Gathering.
Tours: Mt Zero Olive Grove, Sylvania Park Goat Farm, Laharum Hall, Mount Arapiles, Wail Nursery, Wool Factory, Murtoa Historical Society, Horsham Wetlands, Longerenong College, Horsham Garden Club, Antique Horsham Houses.
Workshops: Meditation, Yoga, Belly Dancing, Cake Decorating, Sushi Making, Tai Chi, Indian and Sri Lankan Cooking, Writing for the Media, Beyond the Farm Gate, Fun with Felt, Waterworks are Women's Business, Succession Planning, The Funny Side of Insurance, My Connected Community, Internet Banking, Beer Tasting, Native Predators and Stock Protection, Regional Arts Victoria, Indigenous Community Issues, Mobile Gym, Women's Balance, Diversifying into Host Farming, Family Literacy, Personal Recovery, Massage.
"This is the first Gathering I have attended and I found it wonderful to share with women from different areas and types of farms" Elaine Hoffman, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.
"The joy of the Gatherings is seeing the same faces and catching up with old and meeting new people. It is fascinating to see how each Gathering has its own life and many facets resulting from the characters and interests of the local organising committee." Drusilla Green, Memory Sheet Reflection, 2004.
"My heart jumped at the layout of the Heritage exhibit. I was so proud to see the launch; wonderful stories are emanating from this exposure." Name withheld.