88-year-old pin-up girl of Beach to Bush calendar
AT the grand old age of 88, Pat Regan thought her chances of swimsuit modelling were done but, thanks to the drought, they were certainly not dusted.
Wearing nothing but swimmers, work boots, wide-brimmed hats and a smile, the octogenarian and fellow members of the Carinda sewing group in far northwest NSW have posed in dried-up riverbeds and shearing sheds for a drought relief calendar.
"I didn't think I'd be seen in a swimsuit at 88, which must mean I can be talked into nearly anything," Mrs Regan told The Sunday Telegraph.
"We had plenty of laughs at the photo shoot but I doubt I have a career in modelling ahead of me - not at my age."
Described as the matriarch of Carinda, a small town an hour's drive southwest of Walgett, Mrs Regan can barely remember a worse drought.
"We had a shocking, great big dust storm this week, the likes of which I haven't seen since the olden days - at least not since 1965," she said.
Sydney has only had eight dry days in the first 28 days of October but rainfall in the state's west has been hit and miss.
The amount of rainfall registered in the past 18-months across large swathes of prime farming land, including the far northwest, ranks in the lowest 10 per cent on record, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
"Much of the Northwest Plains, around Carinda and Walgett, are experiencing their driest 18-month period since records began in 1900," Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Simon Grainger said.
The Beach To Bush calendar was launched at Walgett yesterday, with proceeds to go to farming charity Drought Angels and the Country Women's Association of NSW.
The racy photo shoot was a chance for many of the women, including the calendar photographer Sue Currey, to have a break from their farms, where many of them are feeding starving cattle every day.
There's not a green blade of grass on the 6000-acre cropping, cattle and cotton farm Marion Saunders, 55, and her husband Peter manage at Corinda, where the dining room became the photo shoot green room.
"My husband got quite the shock when he walked in off the farm to see 15 women trying swimmers and getting spray tans," Mrs Saunders said.
Swimwear and resort wear brand Sequins and Sands donated the garments to fundraise for drought relief and reinforce body and promote positive reinforcement around body image, which is something Mrs Saunders has struggled with.
"I would always have a towel around me while I watched the children play in the water and never actively participated," she said.
"Now I have my first grandchild, I don't want to miss a minute, and life is better when you're not worried what you look like."
The calendar was launched yesterday at a drought-affected property called Wonga, near Walgett, where women from the area were shouted beauty treatments, haircuts and massages.