For the past six decades October has meant Christmas pudding time to Broken Hill Women's Auxiliary members.
For two weeks a group of volunteers work hard to combine hundreds of kilos of fruit, flour, spices and eggs into 2,000 puddings. These puddings are now so in demand that they sell out each year while raising many thousands of dollars for the Flying Doctor.
The tradition began back in the mid-1950s when 75 puddings were made in an auxiliary member's home. The original bush recipe has been modified to adapt to the massive quantities cooked today but the exact recipe remains a secret. The mixing of the eggs and butter is done by a commercial mixer these days, but everything else is still done by hand. The location of the pudding production moved a few times over the decades before the auxiliary was provided with the use of a room by Perylia, a mining company.
The current longest-serving member of the auxiliary, Mrs Pam Lord, joined the pudding making for the first time in 1965. "I've enjoyed every minute of it and made the most wonderful friends," says Mrs Lord of her time with the auxiliary.
"Years ago when we were making puddings in various places some really funny things used to happen. "One year we had a couple of loads of puddings boiling merrily when one of the members said she'd lost her sapphire ring. We just didn't know what to do. We turned the place upside down looking for it and wondered if we should put an ad in the paper saying that someone might find a ring in their pudding! We just couldn't find it but the next time she came in she said she'd found it in her sewing basket."
These days Mrs Lord is not able to work the very long hours she used to as she doesn't like leaving her husband alone all day. However she still takes her share of preparing the 2,000 calico squares that must be torn to shape, washed and ironed for wrapping the puddings.
"There aren't as many members as there used to be," says Mrs Lord. "But we do get extra volunteers there who come along to help with the puddings each year. Suppliers are very generous with their discounts for the ingredients and we can't thank Perylia enough. Having a proper room for it has transformed the pudding-making business."
Unfortunately this year's pudding stock has been sold out. We are very grateful to the hard-working members of the Women's Auxiliary who raised more than $75,000 through sales of last year's puddings as well as other fundraising efforts including the Flying Doctor Ball.