Mrs Doreen Meikle, CWA Life Member and the longest-standing member of Meeniyan Branch, cutting the birthday cake at Meeniyan CWA’s 90th birthday. The cake was made by Evelyn Paterson and iced and decorated by Marilyn Mackie.


WELL, for one thing, the Meeniyan CWA branch celebrated its 90th birthday on Monday, March 15 with a well-attended fashion parade and morning tea.

They’re special in that they’ve produced the current President of CWA in Victoria, Marion Dewer, who attended the event.

They have one of Australia’s very best scone makers as a long-term member, Marilyn Mackie.

And they’ll soon be hosting the Gippsland Hills Group CWA’s annual exhibition, in the Meeniyan Hall next Monday, March 29.

But, according to a spokesperson for the Meeniyan CWA, interviewed on Gippsland ABC radio recently, Heather Scott, the branch is in a sense no more special than any other branch in that they all seek to support their local communities.

“Well, we think we’re special. But then every branch of CWA is special too,” Ms Scott said.

“But one of the things that really means a lot to me at Meeniyan, is the continuity, that we have connections all the way through the 90 years.

“It’s not that, you know, the families that are part of CWA now weren’t part of it 90 years ago. They were.

“For example, the very first secretary of Meeniyan branch was Flora Mackie. That was her married name, she was Flora McDonald when she first became secretary, and her great granddaughters; Jasmine, Isabella and Ruby Mackie are junior members today.

“Our main celebration was Monday just gone [March 16] when we had a coffee morning and fashion parade, which is a thing we normally do once a year, but we weren’t able to do one last year but we decided it was a good way to celebrate our birthday and also do something which is actually really appreciated for our local community.

“There’s a firm that comes and brings a whole range of Australian made clothes to us in the Meeniyan Hall, and we have local girls who model those for us. And everybody has a lovely morning tea, COVID safe of course.”

And of course, there were scones, jam and cream, especially when you have one of Australia’s best scone makers, Marilyn Mackie, on your team; but also lots of other cakes, slices and sandwiches beside.

Ms Scott discussed the CWA recipe for scones, noting that it was no secret, involving equal quantities of milk and cream, but you’ll have to look it up on the internet yourself.

Ms Scott said it was the same recipe the branch had used across those 90 years.

“We have a lot of good cooks in our branch and while I do cook, I’m not right up there at the top with the others.

“We use our CWA shows recipe for scones but I don’t bake the scones, I take the money.

“And that’s the great thing about out branch, in that we all have different skills and when we hold an event, it doesn’t take us very long to plan it because we just automatically know who will be doing the cooking and who will be on the microphone, who will be taking the money and so on.”

When interviewed about the branch’s 90th birthday, Ms Scott was asked about a personal memory she had from a lifetime in the movement.

“Well, I think, probably my most special memories will be at the 50th exhibition of our CWA group, Gippsland Hills, including the other branches near Meeniyan, when my mother was presented with an award for being the most successful exhibitor over the 50 years of CWA. She was a life member of CWA, joined in 1946 in the Meeniyan branch when the local school teacher invited her along just after she was married and moved to the district, and continued as an active member until her death in 2013.”

So, what has changed in CWA over the 90 years?

“I think we probably do the same things but in different ways. I know that back in the 20s and 30s they were very interested in what nowadays we would call social issues like their concern for mothers and their children. Our CWA was very instrumental in having the infant welfare centre built in Meeniyan. So, nowadays we might approach that in a different way, but we’re still concerned about the welfare of mothers and children.

“So, for example, last year we were advocating to the health ministers of the state, and federal governments about FASD, that is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, the effect on babies if their mother has been using too much alcohol during her pregnancy. And you may know that there’s a new warning label to be instituted on all alcohol containers.”

The State Creative Arts Chairperson for CWA, Ms Scott will be involved in helping to set up the Gippsland Hills Exhibition this Monday, March 29, but also the State Exhibition in August.

Meeniyan CWA meets on the 3rd Monday of each month at the Supper Room in the Meeniyan Hall from 1pm, and on other occasions when holding special events. New members most welcome.

Doreen Meikle, CWA Life Member and the longest-standing member of Meeniyan Branch, President of Meeniyan Branch Evelyn Paterson, and Meeniyan member and CWA of Victoria State President Marion Dewar, at Meeniyan Branch’s 90th birthday celebration on March 15, 2021.