Clare Valley

A Behind The Scenes Look At Clare’s Most Coveted Long Lunch (With Annabel Crabb And Nick Ryan)

The Sevenhill SACWA’s ‘Locals on the Lawn’ lunch was a day of shared wine, shared laughter, and shared talents (also shared Bushman Repellent).

All image by Nadinne Grace Photography

The Sevenhill SACWA’s ‘Locals on the Lawn’ long lunch is a celebrated event in the mid north, arguably the most anticipated in the calendar.

This year’s luncheon sold out in 48 hours, prompting the committee to release more tickets, with the event eventually housing a record 250 guests. 

The lunch featured special guests and old friends Annabel Crabb and Nick Ryan. Both celebrated journos, the two have longstanding ties to the area, with Ryan calling the Clare Valley home, and Crabb having grown up in Two Wells.

The Sevenhill SACWA women come from all walks of life, and share a determination to carry on the tradition of the CWA with a contemporary flair, united by a keen desire for community, and an excess of talent.

The styling of the long lunch was the work of two Sevenhill SACWA members. One runs bespoke design company, St Lane’s Design and the other is the owner of Magnolia and Co. The women spoke to me about the intentions of the Sevenhill SACWA to showcase the local talents of its members, and the long lunch seemed a fitting occasion to do exactly that.

I was sat next to Crabb and her parents for the duration of the lunch, and not only is she a fellow pescatarian (we ate some lovely salmon), she is charismatic, eloquent, and passionate. An admirable writer and speaker, she was generous with her time, conversing earnestly with lunch goers who made their way over to chat.

We were seated on the front lawns of Hughes Park, an 1800s pastoral property, and the home of Alice Duncan, a Sevenhill SACWA member. Hughes Park is a highly sought-after wedding venue, and offers B&B cottages. There are two currently available, with another soon to be on offer. It was fairy-tale esque, the destination of dreams for a Springtime lunch.

When Crabb and Ryan took to the stage, their friendship dating back some thirty years came to the forefront. The two met thanks to a mutual participation in high school debating. In fact, Crabb referenced a specific interstate debating trip, in which she deemed Ryan’s shirt desperately in need of an iron, and gamely took on the task.

The crowd sipped from glasses throughout, chuckling appropriately as Crabb and Ryan discussed the origin of one of Crabb’s favourite dishes, ‘Glass Potatoes’. Said potatoes appear in Crabb’s book, Special Guest: Recipes for the happily imperfect host and are credited to Ryan’s sister, Alice. Ryan, however, spent the better part of the conversation adamantly contesting this credit. The jury still seemed to be out when the two left the stage.

As far as what the crowd were sipping on, it’s no secret that Clare Valley produces great gin, and great wine. The beverages on the day included local Clare Valley gin (served out of vintage gin caravan ‘Little Tinnie’), and the award-winning Clare Valley Wines. Pimms jugs were also plentiful. The food was presented in the form of share plates, adding to the sense of community evident on the day.

The ‘Locals on the Lawn’ long lunch is run by volunteers and as well as showcasing local talents, aims to raise money on behalf of the South Australian CWA.

The Sevenhill SACWA anticipate donating the proceeds of the lunch to the Dorothy Dolling Memorial Fund, a scholarship to benefit students living in rural and regional South Australia, as well as Clare High School, to support disadvantaged students to participate in extra-curricular activities, camps and excursions.

Everyone I observed throughout the day had a smile on their face. It was a day of shared wine, shared laughter, and shared talents (also shared Bushman Repellent – the flies were terrible).

Stay tuned for details of the 2020 event by keeping an eye on the Sevenhill SACWA on Facebook here.

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