Matildas meets whenever there’s a good show on we all want to see.

The beauty of friendship and art

There are endless advantages to living in a small country town… – The morning chat as you buy your first coffee at the local café.  Not only knowing the names of your neighbours but also knowing they will be there to lend you a cup of sugar, a hedge trimmer, a trailer or helping hand if needed. Your kids being able to walk themselves to school or always having someone keeping an eye on your house as you’re away on holidays.  One thing however, that could get a bit more challenging if you live in a small place like Nagambie, is participating in and accessing cultural events and exhibitions. And that’s exactly where the Community House group Matildas comes into the picture.

Group Leader: Ilona King

Phone: 0421 247 372


The Matildas is one of the longest running groups at the Community House, even if it has been dormant for a little while. It was originally started by Jeanette Murray and its concept is both simple and brilliant: Gather together a group of new and old friends, look into what different cultural events our region offers and go there together. Carpool to make transport easier and enjoy both company and culture.

The new leader of Matildas is Ilona King, who has lived in Nagambie with her husband Larry for eight years. If her face looks familiar, it might be because you’ve seen her at the Visitor Information Centre, where she has been volunteering for over six years, sharing both her knowledge, warm smile and sincere kindness

“Nagambie is such a wonderful place,” Ilona begins to tell me, “I don’t think people living in Melbourne really understand what we experience here. We look out for each other and even if you’re just going to the grocery shop, you’ll run into a friend or acquaintance!” Ilona would know what she is talking about, as she used to live in Melbourne before moving up here. “When I lived in Croydon, a suburb of Melbourne however, I often used to go out and enjoy different cultural events.” 

The ambition and vision for Matildas is to make different exhibitions and shows more accessible for locals. “We already have a few events planned,” Ilona continues; “We’re going to the ‘Windsor to Tudor exhibition’ at the Bendigo Art Gallery, the ‘Coppélia Ballet’ at Riverlinks Westside and Waistwatchers the Musical. I’ve also just been looking at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in October, which I think would be good! But generally, I’m really open to any suggestions and I need feedback! I’m kind of hoping that other people will have ideas and interests as well and that they don’t mind organising an outing. There are so many things going on and I don’t know about all of them. So if someone says ‘I’d love to do this or see that, we can get a group together and go!’”

Ilona continues to tell me how everyone is welcome to join the group, regardless of age. “If you normally find it a bit difficult to go out or if you don’t want to drive for some reason, that’s not a problem, we’ll help each other out! You also don’t have to be a member of the Community House.” Ilona continues to share how she is doing her best to keep the cost of the events down: “The ballet in Mooroopna might be a bit expensive, but if you went to see it in Melbourne it would cost even more. Amateur theatre isn’t that dear either and because we carpool we save on transportation.”

Before I let Ilona go, I ask her if she has dream or a vision for Matildas in the near future… “I would really like for the group to grow, so that in a few years we’ll have 20 or 30 people going together to see a show! And that wherever we go, we enjoy each other’s company. That’s really what it’s about; the friendship of the people you go out with and for everyone to feel welcome.”