Passionate volunteers the backbone of iconic Tea Room, returning year after year to keep the tea and scones flowing

Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW members are packing their bags in preparation for the association’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the running of the Sydney Royal Easter Show Tea Room, which will return more than $100,000 to the Association to fund its variety of causes and initiatives.

This year’s Show starts on Friday, March 22, and runs through until Tuesday, April 2, with the CWA Tea Room to be run by more than 230 volunteers during this period, who will be serving up an average of 4000 scones each day, starting cooking at 6.30am and not finishing until after 4.30pm in the afternoon.  

Rhonda Merchant, a member of the Gloucester Evening branch, will mark her 21st anniversary in the Tea Room this year, putting her hand up for her first shift in 2000, shortly after the Sydney Royal Easter Show moved to Homebush, and only missing a few years since, including 2020, when the show was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“The Tea Room is something I’m very passionate about and I look forward to coming down to Sydney each year to do my bit. It’s our major fundraiser for the year, and while it’s an enormous undertaking, we all know the important role it’s playing,” she said.

Rhonda, who is also the CWA of NSW State Executive representative on the Show Catering Committee, said she and the other volunteers also enjoyed the social aspect of volunteering each year.

“It’s also the friendships that keep us coming back each year. Some people you only see once a year, but when you see them at the Tea Room, it’s like seeing long-lost friends. Great friendships have been formed over the years and that’s part of the appeal,” she said.

The Tea Room has become an institution at the Royal Easter Show, marking its 75th anniversary last year. CWA of NSW President Joy Beames, who will be behind the counter for the second week of this year’s event, said it was not only volunteers who renewed old friendships at the venue.

“We’re really proud that a Devonshire tea at the CWA Tea Room has become a show tradition for so many, and a place where people arrange to meet and catch up with family and friends, some of whom they may not have seen for some time,” Joy said.

“The fundraising aspect of our Tea Room is also critically important to the work our branches do in the community, and we can’t thank all of our volunteers enough for their time and energy, and of course the patrons who are so generous in their support for us every year.”

Manildra is one of the major sponsors of the Tea Room, donating 2.5 tonnes of scone mix, along with Madura Tea, Cowra Eggs, Sunshine Sugar, Nestle, Little Big Dairy and Pepe Saya. Beerenberg Jams has also donated a big basket of goodies that’s being raffled for the association’s Disaster Relief Fund. The Tea Room is open every day of the show from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

You don’t have to be a CWA member to volunteer at the tea room, you just have to be at least 16 years of age and fit enough to work at least a half-day shift. Contact Donna Robertson at [email protected] if you’d like to volunteer.

Media are welcome to visit the Tea Room throughout the show, and if you’re interested in attending or have any questions, please call Kylie Galbraith on 0411 480 208.