There was a reason Carl took me away for the weekend. And it wasn’t for a romantic getaway. You see, Carl is into Australian history and in a few months there happens to be the bicentenary of the crossing of the Blue Mountains. And Carl wanted to be at the event that was raising funds to enable others to re-enact the famous crossing.
And so we drove for nearly two hours to get to Penrith which is in Sydney but is called a ‘city’ and is at the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The event was held at Penrith Panthers, a rugby league club with headquarters so large it’s imposing and almost the size of an entire suburb.
In case you need a re-cap on your Australian history, in 1813 the struggling penal colony of New South Wales was at high risk of perishing from starvation.
The settlement was rapidly growing as more convicts and free settlers arrived. As it grew, so did the need for grazing land to feed the colony. Sydney was landlocked on all sides and a way across the mountains needed to be found, and many tried, however, they always found their way blocked by steep mountains walls.
Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson set off in 1813 to find a way across. It was a difficult journey. They followed a ridge that led them high up into the mountains and on either side there were deep, rocky gullies, making it very dangerous.
On May 31, Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the valley and climbed a high hill. From here they saw wonderful grazing lands to the west of the Blue Mountains.
(This entree was served on a very cold plate and besides the pie crust there was very little to eat besides a tablespoon of onion relish. The pie crust seemed to me to be highly manufactured).
The explorers found a way across the Blue Mountains opening up the settlement. The fragile settlement could now spread across the mountains and the settlers could begin to use the land to the west of the Blue Mountains. The colony was no longer at risk of starvation and Sydney was established.
(The steak was tender but grey).
And so this coming May there is to be a re-enactment of that famous crossing and so in an effort to raise money for the cause, a fundraising dinner was held last Saturday night at Penrith Panthers.
(This was the absolute worst dish of the night and there was alternate service and I ended up with this chicken. The chicken was tender and it was hot when it arrived however it was served on a bed of risotto where even the memory makes me feel bilious. If you can imagine that risotto is normally Italian and cooked with white wine and butter and parmesan, then just imagine pouring half a bottle of soy sauce into it and picture the taste. I am aware of ‘fusion’ cuisine but blending Italian with Asian in this way is just completely wrong.)
It was a pleasant evening where we were seated at a table with strangers who turned out to be people we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know however I did feel the room was too small for the number of guests making it difficult for people to mingle and socialise. Items were available for silent auction but there was little space to display them adequately. Drinks were available from the bar however there were only two people working behind the bar so often the queues were lengthy.
(The person next to me did not enjoy this dish. He works in events and could tell the dish had been outsourced and plated hours before being served to the guests.)
(Beautifully presented however it seemed to be a ‘tricked up’ supermarket bought pavlova shell filled with over-whipped cream and a tinned apricot.)
And to top it off, there was a raffle where you could win a diamond ring and although I purchased many, many tickets, I didn’t win it! However, apart from the food we had a very enjoyable evening and it was great to meet so many other individuals interested in Australian history and what had to occur to get this nation started.
The night raised over $20,000 for the re-enactment so it was definitely a huge success.
Have you been to the Ron Mullock room at Penrith Panthers? And how did you find the food?