Steiglitz Reunion & Quilts 2019

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Sunday 27 October 2019 

In line with this age-old tradition, the Back to Steiglitz Association held the Back to Steiglitz Reunion, on Sunday 27th October, from 10 am until 3 pm.


It feels terrific to say, this year’s Back to Steiglitz Reunion & Airing of the Quilts was one incredible day.  I think everyone there would agree too, for it somehow felt more like a party then a public event.   

Must admit, I’d been worried.  With so many things going awry on the lead-up to the day, it felt like the Reunion simply wasn’t meant to be.  Yet, it was each of those random events which led to the day being so incredibly unique.  Pure ‘Serendipity.’

Although numbers were down compared to some years, it actually made the day feel intimate, cosy and oh-so-welcoming.  Just like arriving at your favourite (and slightly eccentric) elderly Aunty’s home for a big family gathering.  If you were lucky enough to have one, you’ll remember the kettle constantly on the boil.  Her kitchen table laden with your favourite foods.  Kids of all ages running around playing chasey, climbing trees or cuddled up on someone’s knee.  And relatives across the generations, catching up while sharing a cuppa & a chuckle.

The only difference was, most of these people enjoying themselves had never met!   

Such success was something I put down to Steiglitz itself.  This town’s hard to describe.  Yes, words can paint a picture of buildings & landscape.  Though they can’t capture how you feel once you’re actually standing here.  For something strange seems to happen.  This town’s like that favourite Aunt’s embrace – a type of magical haven where you can simply be yourself.  Which is a big part of why I think Sunday’s Reunion & Airing was so successful…for everyone!

Grim weather predictions had us a little worried though. For as each band of clouds swept in, we thought an early finish looming.  However, even occasional waves of rain didn’t deter anyone.  Instead, everyone simply picked up the nearest quilt, raced inside, and draped it around the fire.  Then, as the sun re-emerged, we all reversed the process.  The wonderful thing was nobody instigated or directed this group action.  It simply happened naturally – amidst lots and lots of laughter.

Laughter was everywhere that day.  I shared some with three cyclists who’s bikes stood leaning against Sugg’s. Our surrounding hills have hosted annual cycling races for decades, so we’re accustomed to cyclists being about.  Though these three smiling faces were familiar.  Naturally I asked their story.  Seems a few years ago two of them happened across the Reunion whilst out riding.  That was the year our photographer captured them on the front verandah of Sugg’s – large, piled plates balanced on lycra-clad knees, with huge grins on their faces.  This year, leaving nothing to chance they checked dates on our BtS webpage, rang a mate, then all three jumped on their bikes to cycle from Ballan. Arriving in perfect time for lunch, they’d taken up position near the kitchen and hadn’t stopped smiling (or eating) since.

Next year I’m giving them BtS Membership forms too!   

This day is all about traditions. One of my favourite being the Youngest & Oldest Attendees Competitions.  The prize for each child a book, and for each elder a little basket of hand-chosen goodies.  One strong local woman & historian, Jean Trotter, taught me long ago how special this competition was to attendees.  And after many, many years it’s become special to me too.  Especially so this year, when I spotted a teenager, Charlotte, with her mum Kelly.  Years ago, Charlotte (the great granddaughter of past residents Marg & Vinnie) won the Youngest Girl.  She still has her book.  This year, a very tall, smiling Charlotte returned….accompanied by a delicious rainbow cake she’d baked for our kitchen table.  A lovely reminder of how much this day means to so many.

Though I haven’t even mentioned quilts yet have I?  Oh my goodness.  Not hundreds, like some years, though what people did bring to ‘air’ were very special indeed.  Bettine (the mega force behind our Airings) blew us all away with her amazing quilts – ties, suits, labels - you name it and Bett can (and will) make it into a one-off quilting masterpiece.  I recall one visitor going from quilt to quilt loudly asking, “Is this for sale?  Oh, is this one for sale too? Or this one?”  They weren’t, though luckily a small ‘Welcome’ wall hanging was. 

One of our newest locals, Ali Cooper, also aired her own beautifully unique quilt.  Rather then have the family’s many award sashes for Prize Cow and Bull forgotten in a bag somewhere, she’d transformed them into a large, quilted heirloom.  Then, throughout the day, she, her daughter Lucinda, and a variety of passer-by’s (including my husband Terry) all spent time adding a fringe to this colourful creation.  Last I heard, Ali was contemplating matching cushions!

While Ali’s quilt was special, it was her friend, Lorenz, who won the prize for most unique quilt ever.  For Lorenz’s quilt was made from flattened teddy bears.  Accompanied by a matching chair…with footstool.  In all honesty, it was the most amazing creation I’d ever seen.  And, having grown up with teddy’s rather than dolls, I couldn’t resist sitting curled up in its soft embrace…Mmmm!   Seems many people felt the same, for this wonderful work of art was rarely empty. 

What a day it was.  Filled to overflowing with incredible moments.  Such as seeing the radiant smile spread across the face of Youngest Boy winner (four year old Spencer Lacey), on realizing he’d won a beautiful book.  Then being told he now wants to keep coming each year, so he can win the Oldest prize one day too!  Or watching the Youngest Girl winner (two year old Emma McMahon) listening spellbound as her Mum read her book aloud (for the third time in a row).  Listening as Ralph, (stationed in the Courthouse all day) kept a sea of visitors mesmerized with his wealth of local knowledge.  Hearing Kathy & Christine laughing as they ‘womaned’ the kitchen, dishing up plate after plate of Terry’s delicious mini sausage rolls, Gill’s tasty vegie slice and their own yummy sweets.  Catching comments from the open-mouthed international walking group who just happened upon us (one of whom wanted to buy all Bett’s quilts).  Then trying not to laugh as I realized guests were actually using the old Thunderbox, & emerging with grins (thanks to Peter’s huge cleaning efforts).  Smiling on learning Justin had made St. Paul’s his own and set up his fabulous photo display for all to enjoy. Watching Bett explain the finer details of quilt making to a totally enthralled hairy bearded bloke.  Or enjoying children’s laughter as it drifted on the breeze, while they played footy with their Dad.

Life can be so complicated sometimes.  So demanding it’s exhausting.  Here, there were no prices (“Just a donation”).  No application forms to fill out before hanging your quilts.  No ‘Schedule of Events’ to keep you glued to your watch.  Maybe that was the key.  Maybe it’s why the day was so magical.

None of us really know why this year was so different.  We just know everyone involved had a hand in making it what it was.   Therefore, I’d like to thank every single person who helped out.  To all those who donated their time, their cooking &/or cleaning skills.  As always, if not for each of you this unique tradition would quickly disappear.  The same must be said for all Attendees, some who travel from far afield.  Without you we ‘Steig-glitz-i-ans’ (another of Ali’s fabulous creations) wouldn’t have an event to enjoy.  It is each and every one of you who made (and continue to make) this Back to Steiglitz Reunion so wonderful.

On that note, we hope to see you again next year.  Until then, feel free to contact me if you’d like to do more than simply turn up, for we’d love you to have a hand in shaping this special day too.

With sunny Steiglitz smiles,  Lindy Allinson (and the entire BtS crew)  


2018 was another Steiglitz Reunion to Remember!   

As the Back to Steiglitz Reunion neared, all were getting excited.  Especially Lenny, our reigning ‘Silly Billy’ billy cart Champion.  With entry in hand, he eagerly knocked on Pete & Chris’s door, determined to win that coveted trophy (the golden toilet seat) three years in a row!   

However, Lenny left disappointed  ...   for this year everything was different.  To start with, we’d put the ‘Festival’ element on hold (including our famous billy cart race).  Why?  Two big reasons – our band of volunteer organisers (the Back to Steiglitz Association) were down on active members.  And none of us wrinkle-free!  Plus, for the first time, we all really wanted to actually enjoy the day.  Not simply race around like headless chooks.  For usually we’re so busy working we drop, red faced & exhausted, as the last car drives off.

So, 2018 was about going back to basics – focusing on the Reunion, and having fun!

And what a laughter-filled, fun day it was.

Picture it - town doors open & welcoming.  Hand-made bunting fluttering on breezes.  Mouth-watering bbq smells threading through hills. Tables groaning under delicious country baked goodies.  A glistening St. Paul’s offering seats & shade for those pouring over mountains of historical info. & photos.  And amidst it all, children’s laughter mingling with the excited chatter of old friends catching up.

To top it off, we had the best ‘Welcome to Country’ ever!  Our heartfelt thanks to Melinda & Lyndon, of the Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation, for the wonderful stories, beautiful didge playing, and smoking ceremony which ensured we all ‘smelt the same.’

Chris, Lyndon, Pete & Melinda during the Welcome to Country. 

With a history well over 100 years old, this is an incredible, local tradition.  One that’s our privilege to nurture and keep alive.  Something we couldn’t do without you.  Thank You to all those who helped make this day so special - whether by simply attending, buying a snag, providing family tales or rolling up your sleeves and jumping in.  Hopefully you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.

  Winner of most beautiful female attendee, local historian Mrs Jean Trotter (who went to school in Steiglitz), being presented with her prize by Lindy.

On a final note, remember to keep late October 2019 free – for our world-famous, award-winning ‘Steiglitz Airing of the Quilts & Reunion’.  No billy cart race (sorry Lenny…maybe 2020) though still heaps of fun for everyone!

With the biggest of sunny Steiglitz smiles,                                                                                   

Lindy Allinson (Secretary of the Back to Steiglitz Association) and all the crew