Four Winds Bermagui - Music In Nature


Four Winds is led by a dynamic and dedicated team whose work is inspired by our founders and all those who have contributed to the development of Four Winds since its launch in 1991.


Neilma Gantner

Passed away June 15, 2015

Four Winds founder Neilma Gantner, was a writer, philanthropist, independent woman and lover of music and the outdoors. She was devoted to the region she called her home, Barragga Bay and Bermagui, from the 1980s until her death in 2015.

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More on our founder

Neilma grew up as a daughter of Melbourne’s Myer family and as such was a committed and inspired philanthropist. Throughout her lifetime she quietly helped many small organisations and individuals. However, as her friend Rodney Hall has said of her ‘Neilma preferred to make her contributions out of the limelight. She avoided publicity and had no interest in power.’

Neilma was drawn to the magical far-south coast by her brother Ken, who by the 1980s along with architect and artist Roy Grounds, had already set up their locally famous bush property at Bithry Inlet, deep in the Mimosa Rocks National Park.

Neilma fell in love with the region, rejoicing in its ocean and estuaries, winds and nature, and she spent much of her time out in it all, sailing and walking, writing stories, letters and journals along the way.

Her son, actor Carrillo Gantner says “She was an independent woman before feminism became a movement. Sailing was the physical expression of this ideal, and at any opportunity she would drop everything to sail. Sailing gave her freedom, inner peace, and the deep power and immediacy of living in the moment.”

Although literature was her passion, Neilma could not conceive of a life on her beloved coast without music. Thus the invitation to her friends and neighbours one afternoon in the late 1980s, to gather and talk about an idea.

What the group talked about was art and music, and the fact they didn’t want to travel to the city for great music. ‘Why not bring the music here?’ asked Neilma, thus laying the foundation of what is now Four Winds, the Festival and the arts organisation.

What has taken place at the Barragga Bay site since that moment in 1980s has been an immense cultural transformation. The Festival is now in its thirtieth year, and the organisation continues to invest in year-round work with the local community, encouraging and inspiring creative and musical practice and education throughout the region.

‘Beyond my mother’s personal qualities, this is perhaps her greatest living legacy to the place and the people she loved so much,’ Carrillo Gantner said at his mother’s memorial service, held in the Windsong Pavilion in 2015.

Neilma never wanted to be known as a philanthropist, she wished to be remembered simply as a ‘writer and music lover’.

And so every Easter we raise a glass in tribute, to Neilma Gantner, Writer and Music Lover.



Sheena Boughen

Founding Member: 1991-1997
Re-joined Board as Chair: 2008-2016

Sheena’s professional experience lies in strategic facilitation with global civil society groups and major companies including Nestlé, ANZ, BHP Billiton, Oxfam and Rio Tinto. Sheena spearheaded the festival team’s success in raising $3 million to create Nature’s Concert Hall.

Bill Caldicott

Co-Founder & Fellow



Dr Lindy Hume AM, 2021, 2022

James Crabb, 2018, 2019

Paul Dean, 2016

Paul Kildea, 2014

Genevieve Lacey, 2010 – 2012

Christopher Latham, 2006 – 2008

Carrillo Gantner & Rodney Hall, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004

Michael Brimer, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996


Sir William Deane, Patron-in-chief

Louise Cox

Philip Cox

Lady Grounds

Daryl and Kaye Jackson

Jonathan Mills

Mirka Mora

Carl Vine

Gough Whitlam (d. 2014)

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