Australian Women's Weekly birthday cakes stir up nostalgia at PANDSI Cake-off auction in Canberra

Georgina Connery
Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe cake made by Someonesaycake? was auctioned for $650.
Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe cake made by Someonesaycake? was auctioned for $650. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

It was a feast for the sense and delivered a $20,000 boost to PANDSI - a proud Canberra charity devoted to helping families get through the challenges of pre and ante natal anxiety and depression.

Cake-hungry Canberrans got their fill on Saturday at the PANDSI Cake-off from Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cakes cookbook recipes.

The Hyatt Hotel ballroom was hot, filled with an estimated 1500 purveyors, many of whom had spent hours in queues stretching out into the carpark, eager to check out the 10 professional and 107 amateur novelty cakes.

The room was filled with the unmistakable aroma of buttercream icing and plenty of chatter as guests reminisced about cakes they enjoyed at childhood parties and those they'd made for their own children.

As some snapped selfies, others were busy bidding in live and silent auctions with the hope of taking home one of the cake creations.

PANDSI raised $9140 from the cake auction alone.

Dominica Rossi of North Lyneham paid $650, the highest amount in the first round of live auctions, to snare the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe cake created by professional bakers Someonesaycake?

"It's so beautiful I don't want to eat it," she said.


"We are going to have to throw a party with friends and relatives so everyone can appreciate it before we finally cut it up."

Pamela Clark, who wrote and edited the cult cookbook first released in 1980, judged 107 amateur cakes with help from Senator Katy Gallagher, HerCanberra's Amanda Whitley and Hyatt Hotel executive chef Nitin Kumar.

Clark was impressed by the enthusiasm of the bakers and the energy at the event but said with such a strong field, it was hard to name one winner for each of the three categories.

"The Choo Choo Train cake made by Megan Boon, which was a master feat of engineering, was my pick for Most Original Cake, " she said.

Clark's son requesting a Shark cake on his fourth birthday was the inspiration for the Smiley Shark cake making it into the much-loved cookbook and fittingly it was that cake made by Connor Dowell that won the Most Closely Resembling the Original category.

The Cuddly Koala cake made by Cassandra Gandolfo won the Most Love category, and Clark remarked "it had great personality".

Christine Spicer is the president of PANDSI, a support group for Canberra families suffering from post- and ante-natal maternal depression.

She was "blown away" by the initial response by bakers and astounded by the turn out on the day.

"One in six women will experience peri-natal mental health issues which I think just shows how common it is," she said.

"What great about today is how it has attracted all ages and we can open up the conversation. There is still some stigma around mental health issues, and with everyone here today it shows anyone not feeling right that it's normal, but you can get help and support."

PANDSI will continue the GoFundMe page until it reaches a $10,000 goal so those that didn't make the cake-off can continue the fun online and donate.

Find out more about this Canberra charity at