St Patrick's Primary School in Walcha 2019 fundraiser

LONG LUNCH LOVERS: Warwick and Jack Fletcher have opened their historic Walcha garden to host the High Country Long Lunch in April.
LONG LUNCH LOVERS: Warwick and Jack Fletcher have opened their historic Walcha garden to host the High Country Long Lunch in April.

A posse of local providores is helping to create an epicurean afternoon on April 6 in Walcha to raise money for a new playground at the local Catholic primary school.

On board to keep guests refreshed are local brewers Great Hops and The Welder's Dog; gin distillers The Farmer's Wife and GlenGowrie Distillery; and the Uralla based winery Merilba Estate. On the menu created by Pronto Catering is Milly Hill Lamb from Armidale and Tamworth grown Jack's Creek beef.

The Saint Patrick's Primary School Parents & Friends committee is behind the event which is the brainchild of parent Lisa Patterson-Kane.

Mrs Patterson-Kane said the idea for the High Country Long Lunch came about from the current wave of enthusiasm for all things artisan - particularly in regards to gin and beer.

"The St Pat's P&F has always been a strong body and every three to four years we try to do a bigger fundraising function," she said.

"Last year we put our heads together and identified that the New England region doesn't really have a long lunch event and we saw that as an opportunity."

The lunch will be held in the garden at 'Cairnie', a 1670 hectare property in the heart of New England, near Walcha, which has been in the Fletcher family for more than 150 years.

Judging by the response when tickets went on sale, the committee was right on target - the 300 seats sold out in just nine days.

"We were pretty amazed," said Mrs Patterson-Kane.

"The support we have had from local businesses and regional producers has been fantastic, and we are looking forward to putting on a great day for everyone."

But as Allworth based gin distiller Kylie Sepos from The Farmer's Wife points out - the motivation to take part is not entirely altruistic.

"I think it is a fabulous way to raise funds and engage the local community," she said.

"For us, it's a way to help the cause but also engage with potential new customers and talk about our product."

If you missed out on a seat at the table this year, then lock it in for 2020, as the committee intends to make it an annual event.

This story Hosting in the high country for a good cause: video first appeared on The Armidale Express.