Workshops and events for all ages

October 3, 2014

A range of workshops and events for all ages and interests are on offer at the Quirky Creative and Wellness Festival this October.

There are over 65 workshops on offer across the shire, including arts and crafts in the widest sense, workshops to boost your mind, body and soul, as well as talks and seminars dealing with stress, mental health and wellbeing.

Local photographers, Gary Voysey from Bingara and Rachel Sherman from Warialda, will be presenting two fantastic photography workshops. Gary will teach participants valuable foundation skills, such as getting to know your camera and composition.

Rachel will present a fascinating and fun workshop where you can hone your landscape photography skills and learn some quirky new night photography techniques.

Beginning just before dusk, you will learn how to snap the best sunset photographs, and as the night falls, you’ll learn how to capture shots of the Milky Way and stars, as well as experiment with sparklers and lights to create some amazing effects.

Also proving very popular are the millinery workshops presented by talented young milliner Michelle Mingay. Michelle is based in Toowoomba and has formal qualifications in millinery; she is also a qualified teacher. Michelle will teach the basics of millinery, and students will be able to create their own hat or fascinator just in time for the Spring racing season.

Another local presenting a workshop is trained psychologist and counsellor, Linda McDouall. Linda will present a seminar on dealing with stress and anxiety; in only a few hours you will have skills for a lifetime enabling you to help those you care about.

Art therapy and Laughter Yoga are other great ways to deal with stress; Inverell’s Kali Bailey is a trained art therapist who will be running three workshops in locations across the shire. Through drawing, painting, sculpting and other art forms, participants will discover pathways to the internal world of thoughts, emotions, feelings and perceptions. Art therapy can be very effective in offering relief from overwhelming emotions, crises, or trauma, encouraging personal change and growth, as well as illuminating who you really are and your deepest desires and passions.

Rob Grimes, a counsellor for Carers NSW, will be conducting the workshop in Laughter Yoga, where participants will be taught to combine simulated laughter exercises with childlike playfulness, gentle stretching and breathing. Laughter Yoga is about feeling, not forcing; it is not a substitute for professional medical treatment, advice or medication.

Laughter has the potential to transform negative stress into wellbeing; it strengthens the immune system, is anti-aging, reduces depression and anxiety, improves our sense of humour, and encourages creativity, imagination and problem solving. It is an aerobic exercise equivalent to cardiovascular exercise and defuses anger and resentment by releasing those feelings in a positive way, and best of all, it’s free.

You don’t need a reason or a sense of humour to laugh. You don’t need to be happy to laugh, but you may become happy after you laugh. The brain doesn’t know the difference between pretend laughter and real laughter. Children can laugh up to 300 – 400 times per day, while the average adult laughs only 15 times per day. The Laughter Yoga workshop will last for about 20 to 30 minutes.

There are also some great kids’ workshops including Origami, circus workshops and Creative Journaling. Local artist Melissa Simmonds will host the Creative Journaling workshop. Kids from 7 to 12 years are invited to participate in this fun filled workshop of arty crafty fun. Participants will collage the front of an artist’s journal and be introduced to the art of journaling. Participants can take the journal home along with a set of drawing instruments.

Three Circus workshops and an Origami for kids workshop will be held in Bingara.

These are just a few of the examples of courses on offer during the festival. People are encouraged to visit the festival website or the Bingara or Warialda Visitor Information Centres for a detailed list of workshops and events.

With less than a week until the festival, people are urged to book for workshops now. Many of the courses have a cut off deadline, so if you are interested in participating, it is essential that you book as soon as possible.

The program of events kicked off in Warialda with a special presentation by guest speaker Peter Langston on Monday. Peter’s presentation covered ‘breaking down depression’ and ‘navigating teenage depression’.

The festival officially opens on Saturday 4 October at Cranky Rock near Warialda with a family friendly concert featuring Brian Cadd, Indigenous artist Roger Knox, and local duo Little Poppies. The concert will be a sensational start to a week of feel good fun.

Tickets for this concert are only $10, with kids under 12 free, and patrons are encouraged to bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy a night of entertainment under the stars. A free bus from Bingara to Cranky Rock is available as well as a shuttle bus from the Warialda Visitor Information Centre to Cranky Rock. Please indicate your requirements for the Bingara bus when booking for the concert. Tickets for this concert are limited and are selling fast, so secure your tickets soon to avoid disappointment.

Other connected events will include exhibitions throughout the Council area, men’s health nights and a Gala Day on Sunday October 11 at the Ceramic Break Sculpture Park between Warialda and Bingara, where there will be artist markets, wellbeing stands and entertainment.

The focus of the festival is to showcase and celebrate local arts and artists, and provide access to new and exciting creative experiences while raising community awareness about mental health issues. The festival will also promote social and emotional wellbeing to the community, encouraging people to maximise their health potential, enhance the coping capacity of communities, families and individuals, and increase mental health recovery.

The festival has been made possible by a partnership between Gwydir Shire Council, The Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, Carers NSW and Anglicare Northern Inland, with generous donations by The Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW and Carers NSW.

This event forms part of the Australian Government’s drought assistance package and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, implement measures such as training for suicide prevention (particularly as the Shire faces one of the worst droughts in history), and give people in the Gwydir Shire access to referral services that can provide counselling, support and advocacy.

To register for a workshop or book for the Cranky Rock Concert or one of the workshops please visit the festival website For more information ring the Bingara Visitor Information Centre on 02 6724 0066.