Don and Desrae Stewart are well-known social figures on the Range. They ran the first motel in Maleny, Rolling Hills, back in 1982, before converting an old Flaxton home into Tanderra guest house, “the first one at this end of the Range,” states Desrae.
By the year 2000 however, they decided to retire to Mapleton and enjoy time together – and apart. “I hardly see Desrae three days a week, what with her crafts groups, Mah-jong and Rummy!” Don says.
Until recently, Don was a keen woodworker, turning lamps, carving bowls and wooden fruit and making furniture, plus driving for the Care Cottage. Now, though, he is happy with his mountain walks and playing bowls. “Don climbed Mount Holdsworth, 5000 feet, when he was 82,” Desrae tell me with pride.
Desrae herself is certainly busy. Having been a member of the Maleny Craft Group in the 80s, she missed the creativity and camaraderie once they moved to Flaxton; so Don suggested forming her own craft group.
“We advertised in the local paper in Nambour, and started with about seven women. Now there are nearly twenty of us,” Desrae says.
“We’re a great group. We have made dolls and teddy bears in the past, but these days it’s mainly quilting, embroidery, crocheting and patchwork” she explains.
The group meet every Thursday from 9am to midday at 152 Flaxton Mill Road. “A very kind friend has a studio on her property and offered it for our group to use,” Desrae tells me.
The Flaxton Craft Group pay $2 each week, which includes morning tea and a celebration of Christmas in July, and Christmas in December.
“We sell our quilts locally, and often through word-of-mouth,” Desrae shares. “And each year we give about $200 that we make to local charities, such as Katie Rose, the Salvos and Cup for Cancer.”
Desrae shows me an array of quilts she has worked on recently, from modern to candlewick designs. With seven granddaughters, she has a ready-made fan club, although admits some “are growing out of quilts sadly these days”.
The Flaxton Craft Group are happily undeterred by changing fashions, as they enjoy all that their weekly gathering can bring. “We’re like a big family. We swap recipes, stories, ideas…and create some lovely work in the process. And we always like to welcome new members!” Desrae smiles.
If you are interested in something creative and social with a needle and thread in hand, then give Desrae a call on 07 5478 6720.