WOMEN IN STYLE | Meet Bridget Coulton & Liz Africano as we discuss organizing & celebrating 110 years of Goondiwindi Polo - Part 1

Meet Bridget Coulton & Liz Africano in this two part series of Women In Style.

When the girls met brothers, Tom and Andrew Coulton years ago, all roads led to the family farming operation in Goondiwindi. This year, the girls are making their mark organising the Goondiwindi Polo Tournament and celebrating a 110 years of tradition.

Bridget, tell us about yourself...

I am a born and bred Melbourne city girl who now lives on a remote cotton, cropping and cattle property west of Goondiwindi, with my husband Tom, and three children Hunter, Evie and Jack, Despite my city roots, I was lucky enough to be raised with farming and country influences on both sides of my family which made the transition from Melbourne to Goondiwindi a lot easier! Times spent at our family farms in the Barossa and upper Yarra Valley helped foster my love for a bush lifestyle. Helping out in the Shearing Shed, cooking toast on Gran’s old Aga stove, riding horses along the creek and stoking bonfires on cold Winter’s days are a few fond memories that come to mind.

Having a Dad obsessed with country and outback road trips also broadened my horizons and as soon as I was finished with my Communications Degree in Melbourne I was off to be a jillaroo in the far eastern Kimberley! And that’s how I met my husband Tom! I have also spent time practicing law in country law firms and whilst these days I am primarily a Mum and a supporter of our family farming business I am having a lot of fun developing a lifestyle movement brand, The Bush Exchange. Through combining my communication and legal problem-solving skills I hope to one day create a platform that can strengthen the bond between the city and the country through sharing stories, ideas and creativity inspired by an authentic bush lifestyle. I would love people to follow my brand journey on Instagram via @bushexchange. 

Bridget wears our Coffee Rib Knit Jumper with Evie and Jack dressed by Love Henry
Bridget wears our Khaki Quilted Vest and Navy V Neck Jumper

How would you describe your style?

I love clothes that are made well and I love cotton! I’m not just saying this as this is for a Goondiwindi Cotton story  but I can’t stand synthetic fibres – they don’t feel nearly as nice on the skin and they don’t last as long. 

I like to wear a lot of timeless pieces – things that don’t date, just nice quality fabrics in classic fits. Out in the country your clothing has to be practical so I don’t like to wear things that restrict movement or get in the way of your daily activities. Despite all that I still like to look good and feel special in the clothes I wear. Putting on clothes that you feel and look good in does wonders for how you tackle your day!

Bridget wears our Oatmeal / Navy Stripe Roll Neck Skivvy

The Goondiwindi Polo event attracts many people, even the late Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, what do you think attracts people to the event each year? 

I think because it is real grassroots polo played by ordinary down-to-earth horsemen! Goondiwindi and the Darling Downs has been a nucleus for the greatest polo players in Queensland and Australia and some have even gone to be world rated. The late Gene Makim, in her beautiful book, A History of Queensland Polo – Backhanders from the Past, thinks this is because our region’s players have all been ‘sons of the soils, descending from hard-working families, all of whom have utilised ‘the horse’ as a means of survival.
The passion for the horse and for the game is so evident at bush polo tournaments, including Goondiwindi, and it is hard for any visitor not to get caught up the intoxicating polo action. The passion, determination and adrenaline on the polo field infiltrates the crowd and is creates one hell of an atmosphere! And if it isn’t the polo action that gets you, the unrivalled country hospitality will! For over 100 years the women of the club have been bringing an array of home-baked goods to serve with complimentary tea and coffee. And there is always a barbecue firing and a cold beer. There’s not much more that you need!

 

Can you tell us about the Goondiwindi Polo Event?

The Goondiwindi Polo Club is celebrating its 110th year and is wanting this year to be more special than ever! We are unveiling our recently restored Shed Bar and Beer Garden area and hosting a special lunch event, Grazing at the Polo.
The club went into a decade of dormancy after the Millennial drought, however, since 2012, with a group of third generation players ready to reinvigorate bush polo, the event has continued to grow with the support of the North Star Polo Club and not to mention the faithful visiting clubs that travel from as far south as the Packer’s Ellerston establishment to as far north as Gympie!
We pride ourselves on throwing a great bush party into the night! On dusk, the bonfire and live band start firing up as people come together to enjoy a great catch-up under the night time sky. 

Where did your idea for ‘Grazing at the Polo’ originate from?

For the last several years we have always had a signature lunch event however this year we wanted to make more of a point of celebrating local seasonal produce whilst also ensuring that the attendees of the lunch get the most out of the polo action on the day. We have an area sectioned off where Grazing guests can enjoy a cocktail and canapes on arrival whilst soaking up the polo action from the sideline and mingling with guests.
 
Guests will then enjoy a sit-down lunch showcasing the best regional produce served with complimentary first-class Australian wine. Once lunch has settled guests will be able to enjoy Grazing Cheese Boards as the polo action concludes and the live music and bonfire heat up! We wanted our Grazing guests to be able to mingle with the rest of the crowd once the lunch event is over so we set up our new Shed Bar and Beer Garden area to accommodate this.   

Tune in next week to hear the rest of the interview with Liz!

To follow Bridget's story or discover more on the Goondiwindi Polo, visit:
@thebushexchange
@goondiwindipolo

Imagery shot by The Farmers Friend @the_farmers_friend

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