What do country women smell like?

Friday, 11th August, 2017

Joy Coulson and Jan Street from QCWA

WE ALL know the rhyme that little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice but what of country women? More particularly what do Queensland Country Women's Association members smell like?

That's what visitors to Brisbane's Exhibition can find out when they go along to the QCWA Tea Room-an Ekka institution in itself-for a quiet cup or tea and a sandwich.

Because there they may also find a new perfume called '1922' which is said to capture their essence.

QCWA Perfume bottle 002

The new, limited edition 1922 perfume.

For me, growing up with a QCWA mother whose every waking moment seemed in service to that organisation, there was always a warm baking scent in the air at home - although the baked goodies were rarely for the family.

Even just a few years ago, before Mum passed away (when she was still a state executive member of the QCWA, signing cheques almost to her last breath), her home smelt of marmalade simmering down on the stove top- and sometimes a burnt orange smell when she became distracted on the phone talking to a club member who sought advice or support and the sugary syrup caught in the saucepan-or desiccated coconut from lamington drive production lines, or hearty goulashes when this octogenarian was preparing to cater for functions. And, it must be said, pumpkin - with nutmeg.

Close-up there was her own scent of lavender. Always lavender.

When I had the opportunity this week to whiff the QCWA's celebratory perfume, marking 95 years of community service, there was indeed something familiar.

Perfumier Jonathon Midgely of Damask Perfumery created the eau de toilette, called '1922'. The name reflects the year the organisation formed, during the Brisbane Exhibition, with Ruth Fairfax as its founding president.

The top note of '1922' is citrus, reminiscent of jams and preserves for which QCWA members are so well known. Then there's the floral middle notes-rose, lavender and gardenia, scents favoured by ladies of the 1920s era. Vanilla forms the base note, representing excellence in baking. For good measure, the perfumier, who died in July, added Australian Boronia because, he said, "it smells like the breath of an angel and that is what QCWA members are".

Current president Joy Coulsen describes the fragrance as "heaven".

What do QCWA ladies do to be compared to angels? It's far more than baking and patchwork. They were instrumental for bringing health services to regional communities, education services to remote and isolated children, and for lobbying for farm safety.

Chances are if you've travelled through country towns, you may have found 'relief' at a QCWA rest room.

These days, the QCWA still works for local communities - particularly health and education including secondary and tertiary bursaries to help country students pursue their academic potential.

The limited edition 1922 perfume, in 60ml bottles, will be available at the Exhibition or by contacting QCWA State Office on (07) 3026-1220 with all proceeds going back to community projects.

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