Craft ladies vs council over unique wall hanging

In the Snowy Mountains, where legends are made, you could not jump a horse over this magnificent wall hanging of Adaminaby, or the legal file that's piling up with claims of who owns it.

On one side are the nimble-fingered Adaminaby craft ladies, who for 2 years stitched the wall-hanging to tell the village's story.

On the other is the Snowy River Shire Council, which says it commissioned and paid for the artwork.

The craft group has engaged counsel from Sydney who are working pro bono. The council is paying for counsel, also from Sydney, so ratepayers face a mountainous bill.

The dispute is set down for hearing by magistrate Chris Bone in Cooma Court this week, with a final decision and judgement expected in coming weeks.

The wall hanging was made 13 years ago and some of the women have since died. The surviving members are passionate, even if they do face cross-examination in the civil case. '

"We have ladies in their 80s and 90s. They are ropeable,'" a group member said.

They had worked, sometimes in a freezing memorial hall, for several days a week over two years on the embroidery and applique work. The wall hanging, or curtain, was even 'opened' by the Governor.

Even with free counsel, their legal bill has climbed to $75,000 and they estimate the council's is in the order of $150,000.

The council declined to comment as the matter is before the court. The craft group said the work - known as the Adaminaby Stage Curtain and depicting old and new Adaminaby, Lake Eucumbene, ski fields, a mountain hut and an area of Kosciuszko National Park - was designed to bring tourists to the town, which was shifted in the 1950s to make way for Lake Eucumbene.

In 2010 the wall hanging was taken down for repairs. In 2011 the council asked for its return. Its statement of claim says more than a reasonable time for repairs has passed.

The wall-hanging has been held in the craft group legal team's office, in two sections.

According to its annual report, Snowy River Council has been reduced to seven councillors, and one of its biggest challenges is lack of money to provide services and facilities.

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