Bring back that loving feeling
by SANDI MILLER
4th April 2022
TRACY BARTRAM has a frypan she loves.
That love has lasted longer than her two marriages.
She has just renewed her vows with her frypan at the Warrandyte Repair Café.
“I was with my second husband 17 years, and I took the frypan when I left — I took the frypan when I left the first one — even though it was his best friend who gave it to us.”
There’s something about cast iron frypans — they get better with age.
She explained that even though the iron was still great, the handle was perished, so she couldn’t hold the pan straight.
“Where the handle went into the frypan itself, when I picked it up, it would swivel — that was dangerous, so I thought I’ll take it to the Repair
Café,” she said.
I had only been to the Repair Café once or twice before, and — full disclosure — the idea of going to a Repair Café filled me with anxiety.
“I live with anxiety, and I live with depression — I’m a recovering alcoholic — I can go into a room with thousands of people that need me to
entertain them or do a keynote — that’s my job —but if you ask me to go to a dinner party or make small talk with people, I have enormous trouble,” she said.
She considered the Ringwood Repair Café, but Tracy feels a real connection with Warrandyte having spent her happiest times in Warrandyte when her family first migrated to Australia.
“And because this was in the Mechanics’ Hall — and I know the Mechanics’ Hall — and because Warrandyte is my spiritual home — I
felt less anxious.
“The first time I went, I had something to repair and found Carol, who sews; she can fix anything.
“Then I was hanging on to this frypan pan over lockdown.
“When I walked in with it, it was like an old home week, because everyone was like ‘Tracy, how are you going,’
and I saw Carol and I saw Greg down the back and David the coordinator came, he said ‘what have we got today, Trace?’ and I said ‘well…’ and I showed him my frypan.
“I just love the whole process,” she said.
Tracy said three men were involved in repairing it.
“Dave came down with some washers, they took the handle off, and there was a guy called Jelle who had some wood putty, and they put that in.
“And then put another washer on the end and he said, ‘let it sit there for 24 hours, so it gets harder, and then you can use it’ — and I was just beside myself,” she said.
“It just makes me feel really happy to do that — and I’ve got my frypan back!
“The first thing I did was go home and re-season it and cook something — boom! I’m back in the game,” she said.
Tracy said the whole idea of “reduce and recycle” was a foreign concept when she was a child.
“I didn’t grow up with that — I’m a kid who grew up in the 70s where everything was thrown away.
“My parents had a giant bin in the kitchen, and everything went in that, bottles, cans, everything.”
She said she is glad things are now moving toward more sustainable practices.
The other item Tracy had repaired on that day was a pair of denim jeans.
Tracy had a pair of jeans she adored but were now just good for gardening,
so she brought them in to get a bit more life out of them and put a patch on them.
“I bumped into my friend Christie, and she came up to me and said, ‘I’ve just taken a pair of jeans to get shortened, and Carol’s going to use the denim offcuts from my jeans to fix your jeans’,” Tracy said.
“I just love the fact that everyone’s so excited when things are repaired — and I’ve seen people getting chargers for computers fixed, instead of them going into landfill — even the most mundane things can be brought back to life — the whole vibe is very Warrandyte.”
She said she is surprised that more people are not using this incredible resource we have in the Warrandyte Repair Café.
“And it doesn’t matter what it is, just take it down, because if they don’t have someone to fix it, they’ll say ‘leave it with us and come back next month’, Tracy said.”
The Repair Café is run by the Warrandyte Mechanics’ Institute Arts Association. It is open 10:30am–12:30pm on the first Sunday of every
month at the Mechanics’ Hall, corner of Yarra Street and Mitchell Avenue, Warrandyte.
The Repair Café is always looking for more fixers, so if you can help out, contact the Warrandyte Repair Café Co-ordinator, David Tynan, at