The Middle Island Fishing Club

While Western Australia does have its orthodoxies with the rest of the world and its uniquities, it is one of the few places I know where people, without too much fuss, will drive for six hours to go to a party. This may say something of our pioneer spirit or pay speak of the poverty of other good social options.

Thanks to a couple of friends, I was invited to the annual seafood dinner of the Middle Island Fishing Club of Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie is part of the mysterious lands east of the Darling Scarp and is a straight 600km east of Perth.

I’d expected was a few blokes bringing a few fish back from their yearly salt-water sabbatical. My first job in the morning busy-bee was helping to shift an industrial double vat deep fryer from where it had been parked after last year’s dinner and, after that, make 20 litres of batter.

My small amount of help left others to lug the two whole legs of beef and rub them down with garlic and salt, shuck 100 dozen oysters, marinate a few hundred beef ribs, put a whole sheep on a roasting rack, get a few dozen fish ready for smoking and generally get things nice for the more than 400 guests on the former tennis courts of the century old Hannan’s club.

I volunteered/gatecrashed to help out on the deep fryer because I love the feeling of searing hot splashes of oil on my arm and find cooking the only type of work I find myself irresistably drawn to. A few hours dipping stuff in batter wasn’t a lot to do in the greater scheme of things and there were only a few minutes when we couldn’t keep up with the line of guests working their way through fried thai fish balls, crumbed sardines and “crocodile”, fish in beer batter and chips. The food for the night went seamlessly with only one professional, a local catering lecturer at TAFE. There were plenty of nice touches like the hams being carried out skewered on a pitchfork. This, happily, left hours for drinking and crap dancing.

This was all very rare. So much good food by so few for so many.