The residents of the Wollombi Valley are a very welcoming, warm, and kind community. That is, unless they are competing in the annual St Michaels Trivia Night! The perpetual trophy – an oversized bottle of Stonehurst wine in an ornately gothic wooden box – has a mythical status around these parts. And nothing promotes intellectual superiority and bragging rights more than being awarded twelve months custodianship of that box of wine.

Murray and I were invited to join a trivia team by Philippa and Daryl from Stonehurst Wines. They proposed forming a brains trust with ‘Somewhere Unique’. We enthusiastically accepted, and then wondered how one prepares for 60 questions on, well, everything and anything? We seem to be caught between technologies – reading encyclopaedia is no longer an option and there is not yet a way to download all of Google into the human brain. So we decided just turning up and relying on bravado was probably the best way to approach the night. Oh, and we took a cake in case our bravado let us down.

The event was held one recent night in the assembly hall at Laguna Public School, a huge rustic building glowing with the enthusiasm of countless local brainiacs. Being yet another event where seemingly the entire populace of the Valley comes together there is a lot of catching up to do. Fortunately Bob, the host, had a booming microphone or he would never have been heard over the din of valley gossip being exchanged.

16 teams filled the hall to capacity, for six rounds of 10 questions. Each question seemed more difficult than the previous and there was a lot of accumulated head scratching contrasted by the sly smiles of those who knew the answers. It was both competitive and fun which is a difficult combination to harmonise. Although, with almost all the vignerons from the valley under one roof there was sufficient wine to fill Wollombi Brook, the crowd became more vocal and less academic as the night progressed.

After the third round, to break the tension (and for another opportunity for a gossip), an extensive supper was offered. It was as if the CWA was holding an annual convention. There were scones and country cakes as far as the appetite would extend. Copious cups of tea and coffee were served and the wine continued to flow freely.

Eventually the competition concluded, scores were tallied, and the winners were announced to an anxiously competitive crowd. Table 12 took the honours and were invited to the stage for a photo call and for an opportunity to gloat. There was a tie for second place, which included our ‘Stonehurst Wines / Somewhere Unique’ coalition. However second place is really first last and there was only muted joy at our table.

There was, however, much celebration of a great fun night where friends mixed and mingled and generous funds were raised. And now we look forward to next year. That’s twelve months to recover, regroup, and to poach some talent from Table 12!