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Mary's school
Derwent Valley Concert Band

Mary Donaldson

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Catriona heads to Mary Donaldson’s home town to learn more about this modern day fairytale.

Taroona is an unassuming suburb 10km from the centre of Hobart, with a population hovering around 3000. Until recent events it was best known for its 48-metre-high sandstone shot tower, built in 1870. Molten lead was dropped from top to bottom of the hollow tower and in the process formed pellets for use in guns.

Now, however, Taroona is on the international map, thanks to a fairytale meeting during the 2000 Olympics.

Mary Donaldson and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark were introduced in a Sydney bar by a mutual friend. To Mary, he was just Fred. It wasn't for some time that she was aware of his full identity.

They seem to have clicked and a long distance and well-secreted romance ensued. Mary, a lawyer and real estate agent, has been well accepted by Queen Margrethe and has been living in Denmark, learning the very difficult language and the /country's customs and history.

The first Tasmania/Denmark connection goes back to the early 19th century. Jorgen Jorgensen arrived there on an English ship in 1804 and pioneered the whaling industry. After a stint as a convict, he moved to the west coast of Tasmania and became a policeman.

Thanks to trained viticulturist Prince Frederik's enjoyment of Tasmanian wines, some vineyards are now exporting to Denmark. Denmark is also the biggest importer of Tasmania's Incat vessels, which are described as wave-piercing catamarans.

The marriage of Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson will take place at Copenhagen Cathedral on May 14. Under the terms of her pre-nuptial contract, Mary will convert to Denmark's Lutheran Evangelical church and will have to give up her Australian citizenship and passport. She will become Crown Princess Mary.

Rather than join the throng of world press in Copenhagen, Getaway chose to visit Mary's home town to see what the locals are doing in preparation for the big day.

Her childhood home is in a pleasant street, not far from the water and with pretty gardens. She lived there for around 16 years. The current owner says tourists and media have become regular visitors. Most just take photographs and head off.

Mary attended Taroona High School, where she was captain of the hockey and swimming teams. She was also very keen on equestrian pursuits. She furthered her studies at Hobart Matriculation College and the University of Tasmania, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Commerce and Law.

A longstanding Danish wedding tradition is the sweetheart cake. Love poems were placed on cakes made to a recipe from the bride's home town, expressing what young sweethearts could not say. From the 1950s, the cakes were no longer made, but poems were pinned to the wall of Conditori la Glace, the country's oldest cake shop, founded in 1870.

When Prince Joachim married a commoner from Hong Kong in 1995, the tradition was revived and a cake with strong Asian flavours was created.

For Frederik and Mary's wedding, the old cake shop scoured Tasmania for an appropriate recipe and came up with one baked by Jane and Tim Parsons of Hamilton Sheep Centre for their shearers and visitors. Its recipe is a secret, but contains dark brown sugar, full cream milk, free range eggs, flour, nutmeg and Tasmanian walnuts. After the wedding, the love poems will be returned to the wall of the cake shop until the children of Mary and Frederik marry. Then new cakes will be made.

Possibly the most excited people in Tasmania are the members of the Derwent Valley Concert Band. They are the only non-Danish people to be royally selected to march in the streets of Copenhagen to celebrate the marriage. Around 65 of them will attend the celebrations.


Taroona in Hobart, Tasmania


Hamilton Sheep Centre is open for group tours only. B&B accommodation is available.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

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