HOT: Country Women’s Association of Victoria State Fair, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, 3 Lansell Rd, Toorak


The Country Women’s Association is a not-for-profit organisation which provides support for women, primarily in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Each state has its own branch and the Country Women’s Association of Victoria has its headquarters in urban Toorak, in a grand mansion called Umina.

Every year, as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the CWA opens up the grounds of Umina to host their Annual State Fair Fundraiser. It’s a chance for people of the surrounding community to explore the bed and breakfast run by the CWA (which is available as accommodation for the general public as well as CWA members) and to support the work of CWA by purchasing items from the various stalls.

CWA STate Fair

Entry to the State Fair was free and it had stalls that you’d expect at any good country fair – a cake stall with homemade cakes, biscuits and muffins, a jam and preserve stall, lots of crochet and knitting and other craft items and of course Devonshire teas.


In fact, it’s probably a prerequisite to membership to CWA that you know how to make scones! I bought a dozen freshly made scones for $6 along and wrapped them up in a beautiful heavyweight linen teatowel I bought from the CWA merchandise stand.

The tea towel was designed by Australian artist Rachael Flynn of Red Tractor Designs and it features charming illustrations and a classic plain scone recipe. Maybe it’s even a recipe endorsed by CWA!

tea towel

As for the scones, they were light and fluffy even reheated a day later and especially delicious when slathered with some homemade strawberry jam purchased from the State Fair.

CWA State Fair

HOT: Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar, Swedish Church, 21 St Georges Rd, Toorak

Even though I’ve spent most of my Christmases in the Australian summer, I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever felt more Christmassy than my time spent in the Northern Hemisphere. Maybe I’ve been indoctrinated by Christmas cards featuring reindeer in snow and songs about a white Christmas, but it just feels more right to be spending Christmas in the cold.

The closest we get to a White Christmas in Melbourne’s 30+ degree heat is the Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar held at the Swedish Church in Toorak. The church is actually an elegant white mansion (reminiscent of Tara in Gone with the Wind) tucked away in a residential tree-lined street of Toorak. Every year Melbourne’s Scandinavian community welcome visitors to its pretty grounds, which hosts all manner of stalls selling Scandinavian goodies.

I haven’t been in a few years and the market seems to have gotten bigger in that time. Stalls varied from the fabulous Swedish inspired stationery shop Kikki K, Danish Christiana bikes from PS Bikes and cute Christmas decorations and Marimekko serviettes from Scandinavian homewares shop Nordliving.

Inside there were wooden Christmas decorations galore and a Scandinavian deli selling things like knackerbrod (rye crispbread) and tarama (cod roe spread).

The atmosphere was friendly and festive – there are musical and dance performances throughout the day, lots of blonde tanned people lounge under trees chatting away in their native language and a popular day out with families as there was a petting zoo and jumping castle for the kids.

Always a sucker for Christmas decorations, I purchased four that day, in between munching on a Danish hot dog (the crunchy fried onions and sweet mustard are a must) and a cinnamon roll (I lived on them when in Norway). The only thing missing was a herring van.

The Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar is held every year in the first weekend of December – so sorry if you missed out. Keep it in mind for next year!