Frontier Services Great Outback BBQ fundraisers have become a regular feature in the lives of many Uniting Church members. For country congregations in particular, the barbeques offer a chance to catch up with old friends, enjoy a good meal and support a cause close to their hearts.
On a beautiful spring day in September last year, members of the Southern Mallee Co-operative Parish (Hopetoun and Rainbow congregations) travelled by bus to O’Sullivan’s Pine Plains Lodge for a parish BBQ and fun day. They were joined by members from Speed and Patchewollock.
Pine Plains Lodge is on the eastern fringe of Wyperfeld National Park, 30 kilometres west of the small Mallee township of Patchewollock.
Elaine Nitschke is the secretary of the Southern Mallee Co-operative Parish. She was one of about 50 people who enjoyed the day.
“Our group ranged from two- year- olds Adelyn and Harry to 90+ year-olds Bill and Muff and all age groups in between,” Ms Nitschke said .
“Many of us had never been to this oasis in the desert – what a magnificent facility set in the beautiful surrounds of sand ridges featuring pines and the open country dotted with pine, bulloak and stunted Mallee trees.
“We were made very welcome by Adrian, a current proprietor of the lodge. Pastor Paul led worship in this lovely setting and then we shared a BBQ lunch together – not too many flies.”
After lunch it was time to explore around the lodge. This included visits to camels or a walk to the local cemetery. Ms Nitschke said the more energetic members joined in the fun of the infamous ‘snowdrift’.
“A trip to Pine Plains is not complete unless you tackle the Snowdrift – a huge sand hill just made for climbing and sliding down; the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile,” Ms Nitschke said.
“Naturally the kids were out of the bus and up the top in a flash. But they didn’t have it on their own – many others of all ages accepted the challenge and came home with sand in their shoes as well as their undies.
“Many thanks to our patient bus driver Graham who got us out to the snowdrift – he even arranged the odd kangaroo and emus on the way.
“We had a wonderful day of fellowship together sharing in God’s creation.”