Thank you for venturing on ‘A Crusader’s Journey’ to support the small town of Genoa, Victoria.

A force eighty strong entered into the Abbey Hall on the evening of Saturday February 8th to join us for ‘A Crusader’s Journey’. There were food, drinks, laughs and entertainment – all for a fundraising effort to help a small town get back on their feet.

The night raised over $7,000 for the town of Genoa, a community in East Gippsland, Victoria, devastated by the recent bushfires. A massive result we are so grateful to achieve together, considering it was organised within a few weeks and in our spare time.

Above all, the highlight of the night was simply the incredible give-back spirit throughout the room. We had friends and local businesses, including members from our network of incredible medieval re-enactors rise up for the people of Genoa.

The evening commenced with a sound of a bell. Abbey Museum Senior Curator Michael Strong gazed through the stage lights, and delivered the evening’s first taste of how we were about to blend the Crusades into a bushfire fundraising effort full of feasting and entertainment.

Then Anthony Vaughan and Schola Cantorum of Brisbane processed to the front, chanting several energising hymns to set the evening’s intention to come straight from the heart.

Soon after, Terry Fitzsimmons projected his powerful voice across the hall delivering key messages about the Crusades, the time period of which he is so tightly connected with.

Rosalie’s Medieval Woman presented a dose of her soon to be released book on the secret sex lives of medieval woman; she without question held everyone’s attention. And there was Mim Carrington from Oltramar who so firmly held her bold and colourful presence on stage telling an intriguing tale from the crusader’s path.

Then there were battles. Queensland Medieval Combat Vultures HMB team took the stage to engage in three full contact battles. There was no way anyone in the room could look away; these are completely unrehearsed and no one knows what will happen. Their battle axes and swords tangled in the stage curtains, then a major advance threw one member into a stage panel on the side and broke it from its hinge. It was intense!

As the night progressed, rain pelted the tin roof outside, the room was dark and candlelit. Our sounds system shut down, but it didn’t stop Raven Jacqui Lamont and The Ruby Phoenix Tribal Belly Dancers from getting it moving. They flowed like the wind under the orange glow of the stage lights as the sounds of the guests drumming their tables shook the glasses and flickered the candles. Some guests even kicked off their shoes and joined the dancing.

Meanwhile, platters of food poured from the kitchen. It was a fusion of flavour inspired by the crusader’s path, which merged culture and tastes. These included exotic spices, herbs and previously unknown ingredients from Italy, Turkey and the Holy Land. These delights was the work of award winning chef Robert Van Buerle, brother of Abbey Medieval Festival event manager, and organiser of ‘A Crusader’s Journey,’ Michelle Hanton. Brilliant!

Many thanks to the donors of the amazing raffle, and to our team of tireless volunteers that came out to make this a true team effort!

We’d also like to thank Michelle De Spano and Adrian from Order of the Horse, along with the Saracens who all braved the humidity in full armour and layers of garb!

These people and local businesses were crucial to making this all happen!

Avondale Meats Bribie IslandG’day Adventure ToursYour Natural AllureDragon SistersSouthern Fish MarineZoe WestcottTax & Superannuation ProfessionalsBribie Pain Relief CentreSimone Wilson MPTerry Young MP – Member for LongmanWhite Brick BrewingSue’s Bar and GrillSue’s Cafe and TakeawayAmrita Park MeaderyAustrawWrights Bribie FruitBPW CabooltureAli King – Labor for PumicestoneSerenity at the Waterways

And a special THANK YOU to two Abbey Volunteer photographers that over the years have put in countless hours and have captured thousands of moments at the Abbey. Neda Lundie & Simon Musgrave – You both are gold!

Continued thoughts to Genoa and all who have been affected by the bushfires – if you would like to donate to Genoa Victoria Bushfire appeal for community please check their GoFundMe.

Amazing things happen when we work together. Thank you to everyone who offered their time, products and services – and to all our guests!