Comparisons may be drawn between Grazing Down the Lachlan and Dorothea Mackellar’s verse about sweeping plains, droughts and flooding rains, because the annual foodie adventure has endured it all.
In 2019, a dust storm. Then Covid saw the event take a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021. Flooding of the Lachlan River in 2022.
“Being an outdoor event, each year we face new and unique challenges - and this year was no different”, said Wendy Muffet, Grazing Down the Lachlan Chairperson.
With the 9 Mile Reserve [the usual event site] under about a foot of water, the event was relocated to Gum Swamp Wildlife Refuge and Wetlands.
“We kept the change of location under wraps until the event day, and I think the Grazers were pleasantly surprised. It was an opportunity for us to showcase another of our town’s stunning natural assets, and the wetlands certainly did not disappoint,” Wendy added.
Having to navigate the various road closures and detours due to flooding did not deter 750 ‘Grazers’ [ticketholders] from across New South Wales and the eastern seaboard converging on Forbes for the fourth annual Grazing Down the Lachlan.
Grazers were bused out to site where they were greeted with a powerful Welcome to Country by dancers from River Spirit Cultural Arts before making their way between the seven food and beverage stations.
Curated by O Tama Carey, this year’s menu was inspired by Forbes’ Chinese history. So too were the various entertainment acts that were scattered along the track including White Crane Tai Chi, a participatory Chinese calligraphy activity by the Forbes Arts Society, an ambient musical performance by Aimee Woods and Esther Bruce, as well as a Chinese dragon dance performed by Kristen’s Dance Studio.
As done in previous years, the zero-waste event aimed to respect and celebrate the natural environment. Grazers were encouraged to donate their reusable service items back to Grazing to be used again in 2023.
“We are so proud to showcase our neck of the woods - the stunning landscapes, the mouth-watering regional produce, and our amazing local talent. All in an effort to raise significant funds for the Forbes Arts Society,” Wendy said.
“Thank you to our wonderful sponsors, dedicated volunteers and supporters, without whom this event would not be possible.”
“An honourable mention goes to the Red Bend Catholic College borders who washed up all the reusable service items on Sunday – ready for us to use again next year.”
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750 ‘Grazers’ wandered down the 1.6km track between 7 food and beverage stations.
Over 50 volunteers helped deliver the event.
Only 1/3 of a bin of compost, ½ a bin of general waste, and 3 bins of cardboard recycling was produced by the event.
712 forks, 727 spoons, 720 wine glasses, 700 plates, 626 enamel mugs and 403 water bottles were donated back to Grazing at the end of the event. A total value of $14,000.
300 people attended Sundowners by the Lake on Friday 16 September.
Over 200 people enjoyed the Amazing Grazing Breakfast on Sunday 18 September, supported by Forbes Sire Council and the Forbes Business Chamber.
The event injected over $400,000 into the local economy over the weekend.
The event raised $60,000 for the Forbes Arts Society.
Gum Swamp Wildlife Refuge is a nationally significant site for ornithology, and is now home to six installations as part of Sculpture Down the Lachlan (SDL).