Christmas has come early in Broken Hill this year but not in the traditional sense.
The iconic Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) Broken Hill Women's Auxiliary Christmas puddings take plenty of preparation but the coronavirus pandemic brought a whole new meaning this year.
Normally a hard working team of 26 women would fire up the old-fashioned coppers used to boil the puddings in October.
But this year they did it in August and with half the team due to COVID-19 health restrictions.
When they were told the South Australian/NSW border might open up, auxiliary member Sarah Siemer said the committee wanted to make the puddings earlier just in case restrictions were eased.
"For most of us South Australia is where we go as our main centre for medical or education purposes or we have rural property there," Mrs Siemer said.
"We changed the date so we could get the puddings done in case the border opened, which would have limited the number of our helpers."
But the border did not open.
Despite this, auxiliary president Carol Holden hoped by baking the puddings earlier it would open up a new market especially considering there were so many tourists visiting the town due to the pandemic.
"We've been using the same recipe for 65 years, which people love and we hope by doing it earlier a new generation of people will enjoy it as well," Mrs Holden said.
RFDS (South Eastern Section) marketing and fundraising general manager Melanie Mayne-Wilson said the Broken Hill Women's Auxiliary were an absolutely outstanding group of volunteers, pouring their hearts and souls into these puddings year after year.
"The money raised for the Flying Doctor is so valuable, especially at a time when we are facing the challenges of COVID-19," Ms Mayne-Wilson said.
"We cannot thank the auxiliary enough for the work they do to keep our planes in the air and our teams on the ground, delivering much needed healthcare to rural, remote and regional communities."
This year the auxiliary made 2145 puddings, with all money going towards the RFDS.
- The Broken Hill Women's Auxiliary puddings cost $25 plus postage. To order email Puddings@rfdsse.org.au