Wheatbelt champ show veteran of 60 years

Rebecca TriggerCountryman

In the dusty Wheatbelt Nancy Crossley honed her cooking on big spreads for hungry shearers and farm hands.

As a young farmer's wife, she moved to a Woodanilling sheep and wheat property in 1956.

"There was no in-stove regulation," Mrs Crossley said. "You had to judge the temperature by the wood you used and test the temperature with your hand."

A veteran of Perth Royal Show cooking and crafts, the 83-year-old is renowned for her shortbread and Christmas puddings.

She first entered in 1951 and remembers when judging and displays were in the old flour building, with hessian over the bitumen floor. "It was pretty crude but we survived," she said.

From the late 1970s, when she became a chief steward, Mrs Crossley spent about a month every year in Perth overseeing cookery and craft competitions.

But things have changed. They are in a much bigger pavilion now and the display cases are hired rather than handmade.

Mrs Crossley said the average age of competitors had risen but there was young blood in the cookery competitions - perhaps because of the popularity of TV shows. But traditional skills such as sewing were being lost because younger people were more likely to throw things away.

Mrs Crossley now runs a bed and breakfast in Australind known for the waft of fresh biscuits and as Nan's Kitchen, where she prepared five entries for this year's Show.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails