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First woman Mayor of Clare 1970: Barbara J. Long

Updated: Nov 14, 2021

Barbara Joan Long left a "long" legacy of work and had a profound influence in the township of Clare and district, in local government, and, in particular, the field of music, drama, dance and entertainment.

Barbara Long had a stellar career in local government:

  • Mayoress of Clare 1963-70

  • Clare Councillor 1968-70 and 1975-81

  • First woman Councillor 1968

  • First woman Mayor of Clare 1970

As Mayor, she led two deputations to the Minister, which in turn led to the establishment of the effluent scheme for Clare in 1974.

A great amount of money was raised through Barbara's concerts and productions, and this money was put to good use in the town.

  • The Clare Town Hall stage lighting was improved and

  • mirrors and equipment purchased.

Among her achievements, was

  • her work towards the building of the new Town Hall dressing rooms, and

  • the new Town Hall Function room, for which she made the preliminary sketches.

Barbara J Long Function Room at RHS of the Clare Town Hall
  • Barbara's money-raising was made use of in other areas besides the hall and stage. For example, the luncheon sheds at the Clare Oval.

Born at Eudunda in 1913, Barbara MacArthur moved later with her parents to Balaklava, where her musical career began.

  • At 6 years of age with piano lessons from a teacher there.

  • She began lessons in Scottish dancing at 8 years of age from Mrs Jessie McKenna whose father was a piper.

  • She entered many competitions in this form of dance and was successful in Adelaide, winning three medals.

At the age of 16 years, she was taken to Adelaide to see Anna Pavlova dance The Dying Swan, which Premiered in 1907 at St. Petersburg, Russia.

In her own words,

  • "Pavlova performed in front of a red velvet curtain, and from that day I yearned to become a ballet dancer."

  • She said to her mother "I must learn ballet. I want to dance like that and one day I am going to dance on that stage."

  • She started straight away having lessons in Adelaide.

Clare Ballet

In 1934, Barbara began teaching classes in dance at Balaklava and in 1936 began her classes in Clare, teaching ballet and tap.

  • She founded the Clare Ballet 1936, for which Barbara played the piano and also designed the costumes.

Clare Ballet, 1938-1939

At 23 years of age, Barbara became engaged to E. Newton Long and was married at the age of 24.

  • She continued her lessons in Adelaide after marriage, travelling to the city by bus and later by car, doing refresher courses in dance.

  • She loved all kinds of music and dance, but her favourite was ballet.

When Barbara and her husband moved to Clare, Newton Long worked in the menswear department of the local Miller Anderson Store.

Later they decided to venture out and began their own menswear store in Clare, which was most successful.

Newton Long was always most supportive of his wife's work.

In 1943, Barbara and Newt lived for some months at Port Pirie while he was in the Air Force.

There, she trained young folk in dance, culminating in a most successful concert there. An article written for the Pirie Recorder in December 1945 reads:

"This concert was a fine effort played to a crowded Town Hall audience, in aid of the Missions to Seamen.

It included some guest artists from Clare, among them Marjorie Forsaith, Shirley Forsaith, and Lois Dux."

Melva Kain, Norma Schell, Barbara Long & Vera Longbottom

Clare Dramatic Society

Also in 1943, Barbara joined the Clare Dramatic Society.

Scottish dance costume
Barbara MacArthur, aged eight.
  • This society was quite exclusive and it was necessary to be invited to become a member.

  • She auditioned for a part in the play "Quiet Weekend".

  • She won the part, and from then on became one of their leading players in so many productions

She generously shared her talents with others, and gave much pleasure to many over the years.

  • Because of her efforts, a large number of young girls and boys were introduced to the world of music and stage.

  • No other person in Clare has made such a contribution to music, dance, drama and the stage than Barbara Long.

Local government a big part of Barbara's life.

  • Her husband, E. Newton Long, was Mayor of Clare and, of course, she became the Lady Mayoress for seven years from 1963-70.

  • She became the first woman councillor in 1968 until 1970 and

  • then again in 1975-1981.

She also was the first woman to become Mayor of Clare in 1970-1974.

  • Barbara was awarded a Certificate of Service as recognition of 14 years service to local government.

  • She was honoured in 1977 by Queen Elizabeth at the Silver Jubilee of her reign, and received a medal and certificate, her name entered in "The Australian Hall of Honour".

Clare Theatre Group - Life Membership

The newly-formed Clare Theatre Group Incorporated awarded Barbara Life Membership in recognition of her creative and dedicated contribution to theatre in Clare.

  • She also received a Certificate of Recognition from the Returned Services League for the training and presentation of debutantes at the annual RSL balls, having handled this position voluntarily most successfully for 25 years.

  • One outstanding success was her presentation of a "Fashion Spectacular" in the Clare Town Hall, during the Clare Valley Festival

Because of Barbara's efforts, a large number of young girls and boys were introduced to the world of music and stage.

  • No other person in Clare has made such a contribution to music, dance, drama and the stage than Barbara Long.

  • She has left wonderful memories for so many, and a great legacy for the district.

"The Australian Hall of Honour" for LONG, BARBARA J. (nee Macarthur)

  • Councillor 1968-70, 1st lady Councillor

  • Mayoress 1963-70

  • Mayor (lst Lady Mayor) 1970-74

  • Life Member Meals on Wheels 1971-84

  • Mid-North Representative Arts Council 1965-76

Highlights of career:
  • President Mid North Tourist Association 1970-77

  • Councillor Clare College of Further Education 1976-82

  • Elderly Citizens Group 1968-84

  • Military Service Member VAD

  • Community Service Member Clare & Blyth Hospital Boards

  • Carinya Aged Home

  • Cultural achievements—

  • Columnist for The Flinders News 1981-84

  • Main achievements—Community welfare and Interest of elderly citizens and young people

In 1973, they moved into a new home in Clare, but, sadly, after only three weeks in the home, E. Newton Long died suddenly.

Barbara continued living in Clare until 1984,and it was during those years that she wrote her newspaper column for the Flinders News, still keeping an interest in the town.

In 1984, people of Clare and surrounds sadly farewelled Barbara Long:

she left the town she had done so much for all of her married life, and

moved to Aberfoyle Park to be closer to her three boys and grandchildren.

Full list of public involvement:
  • Justice of the Peace 1964

  • Mid North representative of the Arts Council 1965-76

  • Committee member Clare Chamber of Commerce 1976

  • Executive member Mid North Tourist Association

  • Council representative Clare Hospital Board of Management

  • Patron Clare Branch Mothers & Babies Health Association 1963

  • Patron Crippled Children's Association 1963

  • Patron Stanley Basketball Association 1963

  • Councillor Clare College of Further Education 1976

  • President Clare Musical Society 1980

  • President Clare Dramatic Society 1967-69

  • President Clare Tourist Association 1970-77

  • Member of Australian/American Association 1978

  • RSS & AILA certificate of merit 1968

  • Driver Meals on Wheels

  • Work with Royal Flying Doctor, Red Cross, Women's Agricultural Bureau, Country Women's Association, the Clare Valley Wine Festival

  • Taught ballet in Clare 1936-70, producing many stage productions in aid of local charitable organizations

  • Special interests - elderly citizens groups and community affairs, travel, pottery and mosaics, music and ballet.

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