Scenic Rim Inspirational Women


This issue, we meet 6 beautiful and inspirational local women. These women were voted by the general public as queens who deserve recognition. Find out who they are and what they do when you scroll down.


Jodie Gnech

Mechanics in Boonah


I started Girl Guides when I was 6 and continued until I was around 14. I went back and became a leader when I was 19 for 5 years but stopped due to work commitments. Whilst working for the Department of Community Corrections I met my husband when he came to fix the prison van (he was the RACQ man). We started dating, moved to Boonah, got married and just before I had my first daughter, Paula Dewar, from the Boonah Girl guides hunted me down as the Boonah Girl Guides were barely surviving with the two leaders. In 2005, 2 weeks after having my first daughter I became a leader in Boonah.


Boonah Girl Guides have 30 girl guides, 3 qualified leaders and 3 unit helpers. “Our mission is to empower girls and young women to become confident, self-respecting responsible community members.” https://www.girlguides.org.au. We provide weekly programs that are fun, inclusive, with learning opportunities and achievement outcomes.


I have been a leader in Boonah for nearly 14 years so my life really revolves around guides. I volunteer my time and seeing the girls challenging themselves, growing with confidence and self-esteem, how could I not be involved?


We assist with community events like face painting at fetes, Shave for a Cure, Scenic Rim Council activities. Our Beaudesert Unit was closing due to the lack of members however after our ‘come and try day’, Beaudesert is once again up and running. We have also collected toys and money for the Queensland Children’s Hospital mainly the Oncology Ward as one of our members has beaten acute myeloid leukaemia twice. With all of these community events, my daughters are by my side also giving back to our community which I’m very proud of.


Jude Hepehi

Dear Agnes the Flower Merchant


I decided to start selling flowers out of a caravan after we met and fell in love with Kara Rosenlund’s little Travelling Wares Caravan named Frankie. My best friend and I found Dear Agnes one night after drinking too many wines and fell in love with her instantly. As a tribute to my Mum, we called her Dear Agnes.


We started our Flower Merchant business at the end of September 2018, with a pop-up shop at Oppy’s Fruit and Veg at Boonah. I have always loved flowers. My Grandmother had the most beautiful rose bush and I used to make pretty posies when I was a little girl on our family farm. I also remember my Mum grew pretty Geraniums. I used to pick the petals, crush them up and mix them with water and do little paintings. My beautiful friend Annabelle Hickson has also been a huge inspiration. I have attended a few of her Flower Workshops and she has been so supportive.


I started wanting to donate flowers to our local hospital when I had one bouquet left from our first pop-up event. I remember when my husband was in hospital for many months with cancer and a lady gave me some beautiful roses. It made me feel not so alone and that even a stranger cared. It brings me so much joy giving flowers to the patients and sometimes lots of tears, happy and sad. The wonderful nurses pick a patient who might need more brightening up that day. The patients are always so grateful and surprised that a stranger is giving them flowers. I love sitting down with them, if they are well enough, and finding out about their lives. They are so interested in finding out more about our little caravan as well. One of my favourite moments was taking in three bouquets from a bridal shoot. The ladies felt so special, especially one of the ladies who was a former nurse at the original Boonah Hospital.


Catherine Drynan

Rathdowney Visitor Info Centre


I have lived all my life on the family property at Innisplain in the Scenic Rim. My Drynan and Flanagan ancestors settled on properties in the Scenic Rim in the 1860s and are still farming on the original selections.

For the past 30 years, I have worked for the Rathdowney Visitor Information Centre (VIC) and I am also the Rathdowney VIC coordinator. I’m proud to have been associated with the Information Centre since it’s formation in the early 1980s.

I feel that it is very important to preserve and record our local Scenic Rim history which is one of the reasons we established the Rathdowney Museum for that purpose in 1984.


Currently, I am the Secretary of the Rathdowney Area Development & Historical Association which is the governing body to look after the Information Centre and Museum. We are a non-profit organisation and run functions to raise money. Our aims include promoting the community and current activities, its history, developing facilities and encouraging tourism. We try to do this in a manner, which maintains our rural outlook.


I am also still active in helping to run the family farm, enjoy travelling, I’m a member of the Queensland Embroidery Guild and also a member of the local Catholic Church.


Recently the church gave support to Beaucare to establish a Women of Worth group in Rathdowney. I think it is important for the local groups to work together and help each other in a small community.


Sarah Bottle

Elegance & Grace


I stock a range of local creators. Most have approached me since the shop opened. Cowboy Nathan was someone I approached before we opened as I loved the barb wire creations that he made. I have paintings from artist Marjorie and her husband Gordon who makes walking sticks, woodworking items and leather items. I also stock cards by local designer ‘Rope the Moon’. Locals supporting locals is what we live and breathe here, and I am so thankful for every single person who has come by, purchased or helped to spread our name in the community. You honestly couldn’t ask for more.


The idea to start my own small business came from a girlfriend who inspired me to think outside the box and promised me that even if I didn’t go through with it, that was okay. When this opportunity presented itself initially, my husband told me to go for it as well. And so I did. I jumped in and had to trust that it would be okay. That was probably the hardest part. My advice would be to not think what if it fails. That’s always a possibility. But ask yourself, “what if you fly?” My father died young and I think it has given me the strength to go for opportunities when they arise.


I wanted everyone to feel welcome in the shop. I don’t believe in hard selling, so people stop in just for a chat and we encourage it. Recently a lovely man popped in to tell me about his holiday, it filled me with joy to know that he came in just to tell me, not for any other reason. I knew then I had achieved that space I had wanted. That’s what small country towns like Kalbar are built on, care for people in the community. Plus, it’s not hard to get us chatting away, Jade knows so many people in the community and I love getting to know everyone. We never want to lose that element to our business.


Michelle Roper-Dennis

My Country Escape


We live in a small area and unless we support each other, we will not sustain business as it all comes back to the community. I’m continually amazed by the strong women I’m surrounded by and really believe they are the unsung heroes of our community. If people love My Country Escape, they will come back again and if they can see a great shoe shop and have a yummy bit of cake and coffee at a great café, it will become a destination. Repeat business is the key. If my business is doing well, I want yours too as well. Business is hard so why not make it fun and kind to boot.


I hold a Tuesday craft group which is about women coming together in a social setting where they can relax, chat and encourage each other. No matter your craft, it is lovely to watch ladies teaching each other and watching individuals projects grow to completion. This is a very safe place and time for women to build up and encourage other women.


Overall, I’m just proud of the business I have built and the way we respond to the customer and community as we have and always will be people focused and people first. And yes, that is before sales. People first is the only business model I’m interested in.


We do try and give to as many community charities as possible and we have given large amounts over the years. Turning Canungra Pink is one example every year we try and come up with a new way to raise money for this awesome town event. But I think the charity that touches me the most is Bravehearts. We have a counter coin/charity box and on Tuesday at the craft morning, the ladies all give a $5 donation, or what they can afford. This is a charity I would love to give more to and work more closely with in the future and really is the charity I want the shop to be aligned with.


Jade-Maree Cook

Empowered Soul


I grew up in Harrisville and did a lot of competition in the equestrian world, so I developed a social community within the area. I decided that I’d have some support from the community if I was to open my own shop! So I bit the bullet and started Empowered Soul. Many people comment that they hope we stick around as Kalbar needs more small business. We have people travel from afar to check us out for their Sunday drives saying, “oh we didn’t know you guys were here.”

I made it my goal to be a shop where you can call in for a chat because we are all about the community and building relationships with our fellow locals. I’m not in this business to push sales onto people, I made it an important part of the business that we are here for a cuppa and a chin wag whenever anyone feels like a chat.


As a born and bred local, my family enjoys helping the community. From assisting with fundraisers, supporting local sports functions and coaching, umpiring and playing in the Fasssifern Netball Association. We’re also there for natural disasters. My husband and I are always out in the ute with our boots on ready to help anyone in need. And of course, having our business, I love helping locals with their health & wellness. We also love supporting other local businesses in the area by recommending customers to them in the chance I’m unable to help.


I felt like Kalbar needed more. I always had this vision in my head of a ‘one-stop shop’ and I originally had started this with a little shop in Harrisville which was a stepping stone for me to grow bigger. I love to stock and support other businesses that I’ve developed a friendship with over the last 8 years as these businesses are small and are mums just like me, located all throughout Australia.


THE MAGIC OF THE SCENIC RIM
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© 2019 COUNTRY SCENE MAGAZINE, QUEENSLAND