Mama mia! New Italy celebrates 125 years
By HELEN JACK UP to their elbows in pasta; Trisha Sanotti, Julie Nardi and Maria Hellyar were flat-chat yesterday helping to feed over 1500 people celebrating New Italy's 125th birthday.
The kitchen at New Italy's museum was standing room only with huge bowls of fettuccini, penne and spaghetti covered in either Bolognese, Napolitano or funghi sauces teetering together on overcrowded benchtops.
"We started at 9am this morning and we've been flat out ever since," said Trisha.
"This is what it's all about; fun and passion. "I love it, everyone getting in and having fun. "We do this every year and it just keeps getting bigger and better."
New Italy area lies 13 kilometres south of Woodburn on the Pacific Highway and covers an area of 1226 hectares. It became home to 30 Italian families by 1885 after a treacherous voyage from their homeland in 1881.
The families had been duped by the Marquis de Rays into buying homes on a fictitious paradise in the Pacific called La Nouvelle France on the Bismarck Archipelago. On their arrival they realised their error and set sail once again determined to find a home.
They landed in Noumea and were stranded. Word travelled to NSW's then Premier, Sir Henry Parkes, who dispatched a ship to get them.
The families were dispersed throughout NSW to work but they soon despaired at being apart. Upon hearing of land available on the Far North Coast they banded together to make their home at New Italy.
New Italy vice chairman Sil Gava said he was extremely proud of yesterday's celebrations. "We celebrate every year and takes all year to plan," he said.
"This is not just about Italian culture it's also Australian history.
"The New Italy families were the first refugees to enter Australia. "And the museum is their memorial.
"The facilities here are run by volunteers and from donations do today's event will help us keep New Italy viable."