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Shell Prom Picnic Concert

Jolene Laverty

Canberra’s biggest picnic is on at Government House this Saturday February 20.

The Shell Prom Concert is one of the very limited opportunities Canberrans have to lounge around on the stunning lawns of the capital’s most prestigious home. This year, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, celebrates the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog on Australian soil. When Hartog did so, he left behind an inscribed pewter plate as a record of his achievement; rather fitting really, because you are invited to bring a plate to enjoy at the Shell Prom Picnic Concert.

There are several ways to enjoy your supper at the Prom. You can pre-order a hamper from Ginger Catering which will then be waiting for you at Government House, you can buy a hot meal from the SES BBQ on the day, or you can pack your own picnic. If you want to really embrace the Dutch spirit at this year’s concert, consider packing a little bit of the Netherlands in your hamper. The Dutch have a large culinary repertoire, which includes a fantastic selection of tasty morsels that are just perfect for a picnic.

Perhaps one of the most popular snacks in the Netherlands are the bitterballen; a crunchy little meaty-ball that is served as a bar snack around the Netherlands. The ‘bitter’ hints how delicious they are when washed down with some famous Dutch gin, or perhaps a mug of white beer. The bite-sized portions of meat-filled croquet are usually served with a grainy Dutch mustard and perhaps some creamy Gouda cheese.



If baking is more your thing, the krentenbol is a terrifically versatile bun which will keep both the sweet tooths and the savoury-lovers happy. Krentenbollen is a currant bun which is studded with raisins and currants, and sometimes even have mixed peel in them, which makes them look a bit like a hot cross buns without the cross. However, a significant difference between the two is that it is quite fine to top your Dutch krentenbollen with savoury toppings such as cheese and smoked meats, whereas most Australians never do such a thing to a hot cross bun.

If ham and cheese on your currant bun is just too continental for your liking, krentenbollen are simply divine with no more than a smear of butter on them.

Image courtesy of

Krentenbollen. Image courtesy of Bakkerij Vreugdenhil

Whilst neither of the previous suggestions for Dutch picnic items will raise the eyebrows of the family sitting next to you, this final recipe just might. Applebollen is an impressive presentation of several ingredients that were put on this earth to be together. Imagine the ingredients in an apple pie that, rather than being chopped, remain whole. The whole apple is cored, and stuffed with sultanas, sugar and spice, then wrapped in pastry. The flavours are tried and true, but the delivery is sensational, and perfect for a Dutch themed picnic.

Image via

Image via Nicole Holten and

Lay everything out on an orange picnic rug, orange being the unofficial national colour of the Netherlands, and savour a meal that will be a truly special experience with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

the essentials 

What: The Shell Prom Picnic Concert
Where: Ground of Government House, Dunrossil Dr, Yarralumla
When: Saturday 20 February. Gates open from 3.15 pm, concert begins at 5pm
For more information go to or call CSO Direct on 6262 6772

Image of ‘Bitterballen‘ via Shutterstock



Jolene Laverty

Jolene Laverty was born and raised in Darwin, but has lived in Canberra for most of her adult life. She spent close to twenty years in radio, which took her to the copper outback of Port Augusta to the sparkling aquamarine waves of the Whitsundays. Today she is a member of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra*, ANU student, wife of a high-school teacher/rock-musician, and mother to three children who were each born in a different decade. *not allowed on stage. More about the Author

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