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Kimba’s Workshop 26, inspiring rural women

Abbie Tiller
They say when one door closes, another opens. But for the Eyre Peninsula town of Kimba, when the John Deere dealership shut its doors after servicing the district for 90 years, four farming women and a publican moved in to open 9 new microstores, breathing life back into their beloved hometown.
It was 2019, the region had suffered consecutive drought years, and Kimba’s town centre was taking a hit – with three retail businesses unable to survive the tough conditions.
Enter Workshop 26 -the creative quarters for a group of passionate women who weren’t going to stand by and watch as their town lost valuable businesses and services.
Over a bottle (or more) of champagne, the savvy country chicks came up with the idea to transform the old tractor dealership into a collective space of “shipping container shops”, which is now home to nine businesses, each founded by local makers, collectors and creators.
Workshop 26 has become a major drawcard at the home of the big Galah, with travellers timing road trips across the Nullarbor or deviating hundreds of kilometres to experience the unique retail space.
Lisa Lock, who helps manage Workshop 26, and also runs her Copy Writing business from the venue, said Kimba locals were highly driven to keep the town sustainable for future generations.
“It’s a matter of asking yourself what you will do to keep your town afloat,” she said. “The spin-off effect of encouraging travellers stop in our town goes a long way.”
Workshop 26 welcomes visitors with a funky retro caravan, serving up barista-made coffee, before they step inside and have their minds blown by the uniquely rustic fit out of the old tractor store.
Ten shipping containers house a range of vintage wares, preserves and produce, health foods, garden and homewares. You can also watch on as the talented creators do their thing – the resident potter at work at her wheel, a soap maker slicing freshly made bars of soap and a candle maker lining her shipping container shelves with the latest fragrances.
So what better place to celebrate International Day for Rural Women, than with the team of savvy entrepreneurs at Workshop 26. On Sunday October 15, the old tractor shop will host inspiring guest speakers from regional Australia and across the ditch.
A long table lunch, smack down the middle of the shipping container stores, for 100 guests, who can also reserve a spot in a number of creative workshops on the day – from farm garden tours, soap making, family organising and clutter clearing advice, and a valuable presentation on how rural women can set themselves up to be the masters of their own destiny.
The two-course long lunch will feature two hugely accomplished country women, including 2022 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award winner,  Stephanie Trethewey, and Kate Ivey, founder and managing director of Kate Ivey Fitness and online health and fitness community, DediKate.
Kate, who comes from a tiny New Zealand town, will deliver the motivating message about how living remotely doesn’t need to stop anyone from doing incredible things. A sentiment that Lisa Lock knows well. “It’s an amazing time to live in regional Australia,” she said. “You can do anything, anywhere, as long as you have a WIFI connection.”
Rural Women’s Day – Eyre Peninsula, will wrap up with cocktail hour by the fire, chats and live acoustic tunes by Gemma Leonard.
Tickets are limited. For bookings and info or to find out more about Workshop 26 click here.


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