Almanac Life (and the Rick Darling Dinner): Community







It’s a very important word. It may well be part of human nature to want to belong and possibly why so many of us follow with some passion a sports team or three.


My wife and I have now lived and taught in our Barossa Valley community for over 30 years. We joke that locals probably would not yet regard us yet as true blue Barossans. It helps to have some German/Prussian heritage (which, thankfully, my wife has), but to be the real thing here might take a generation or two.


Last evening, I attended an Almanac Cricket Dinner with Rick Darling at The Clubhouse in Tanunda. Now this venue is probably my favourite red-wine drinking hole and often on a Wednesday evening a group of us turn up to try to win their quiz night. In many ways this is just an excuse to eat, drink (red) and catch up.


Rick was there last evening to talk and promote his book titled Bush to Buckingham Palace: Crazy adventures of fun-loving cricketer Rick Darling.


I was aware that John Harms is a talented writer and speaker having read his books and heard a very funny after-dinner speech he made at a Kiwanis function. What I didn’t know was that he is an excellent organiser and interviewer.


When we all arrived, he had us seated at tables rather like one does at a wedding reception. He had me next to a good friend, fellow Wednesday quiz-team member, local lawyer, and Barossa royalty (he was born here) Brenton Miegel. Brenton has played a lot of sport, including cricket, and has the distinction of dismissing JTH for a duck, a fact which John cannot seem to forget.


Seated at the table around me were most interesting people.


Opposite me was Bernard Whimpress, historian and prolific author, and you all know how highly he is regarded in the journalistic world.


To his right was John Kingsmill, graphic designer for the Footy Almanac and such an interesting person. We almost had a quarrel when he suggested that the Port Adelaide Football Club (in the AFL) doesn’t have a history (although I can see his point of view).


And next to me was Russel Hansen, also known in the Almanac as ‘Rabbit in The Vineyard’. We chatted about rugby league, until I discovered that he teaches at Faith Lutheran College where our kids attended and we have many friends, his wife is principal at Redeemer, a Lutheran school in Nuriootpa (Barossa Valley), and that he is a distant relative of my good mate Ian Hauser who keeps the wheels of rugby league turning on the Footy Almanac.


I suddenly felt part of another community – a group of people who love sport, with many present writers, journalists, and Almanackers.


On ‘World Shiraz Day’ many enjoyed a good red to go along with the excellent steaks provided by Jack Ferrett and his Clubhouse crew.


And Rick Darling?


He is a most impressive speaker. He is a down-to-earth sort of person with no pretensions. From Waikerie he rose to representing Australia in cricket. Inevitably he was asked about his running between the wickets with his close friend and fellow Australian opener Graeme Wood. They ran each other out on many occasions. In a cheeky response he said that analysis has shown that out of the 10 occasions, Graeme was at fault 7 times, he was only responsible for 3. If you get the opportunity, go and listen to Rick talk.


I’m looking forward to reading Rick’s book.


Thank you, John, for organising the evening. Who would have known that when you and Paul Daffey came up with the concept of The Footy Almanac that you also created a community.




Bush to Buckingham Palace: Crazy adventures of fun-loving test cricketer
by Rick Darling
2022, Ryan Publishing, Melbourne
RRP $39.95
Also available as an eBook.
Contact the publisher, Ryan Publishing, here.





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Born on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, my parents migrated to this wonderful country when I was 7. As teachers, my wife and I ‘worked’ in some pretty SA and Queensland tourist locations and ended up in the Barossa Valley, where I enjoy gardening, socialising, reading, writing, sport, travel, handyman projects and wine. Since retiring I’ve written 3 published biographies about Kieran Modra, Rolph and Marg Mayer and Margaret Ames. I started a Valley social cycling and coffee-ing club called the ‘Sprocket Rockets’ After some success at hockey, volleyball, tennis, golf, Church picnic sprints and the ‘Henley on Todd’ regatta, I’ve settled down to walking, cycling, Fantasy Football and watching sport, particularly AFL and cricket. A Queenslander described me as an ‘Ex-Pommie, ex-Victorian who barracks for Port Adelaide’ so it can only be up from there!


  1. Ian Hauser says

    Sounds like a great night, and what a gathering of interesting people. I’m told that Mickey Randall made an appearance, but was Claire there too? What a bugger distance can be when you’d really like to be somewhere!

  2. Good to meet you at the Clubhouse the other night Andy. How good was the steak? I agree with you on the sense of community springing from this site. It’s a club, a society and a digital men’s (and women’s) shed.

  3. Bernard Whimpress says

    Nice coverage Andy and a pleasure to meet you.

  4. Andy Thurlow says

    Thanks Ian, Mickey and Bernard. Brenton (Miegel) and I are both members of the Clubhouse and so get free corkage. Thus we bought our own bottles of red, ironically both from the McLaren Vale region. We dutifully drank this unaware that there were bottles from Langmeil and Rockfords floating around the room. This is a case of beginner’s naivety and we will not make this mistake again when we meet up for the next Almanac’s Dinner!

  5. Russel Hansen says

    a great summary of a great evening, Andy.

    it was great to meet you, and the other friends of the Almanac.

    I am also a member of the Tanunda Club, so we may catch up again soon.

  6. John Harms says

    Thanks Andy. Nice to get offt he mark in the Barossa, with an enjoyable evening.

    We’ll be doing a footy lunch – looking at Friday Aug 25. Watch out for an announcement this week.

  7. Well done Andy for an excellent report of a brilliant function organised by JTH.
    Rick Darling speaks as entertainingly as he writes.

  8. Thanks Andy sounds like a great night unfortunately was unable to attend

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