In 2000 when Cathy was living in Darwin Australia (writing the songs for "One Stitch at a Time"), the Hotel Darwin was demolished. The hotel was a symbol of the "old Darwin", and had been the site of many a gathering and after-work celebration for the 59 years of its existence. It had been known as the "Raffles" (Singapore) of Australia, in that it epitomized "civilization" for pioneers in the tropics.
The owners of the hotel had allowed the hotel to decline over the years, and it was granted a demolition order as a result of "concrete cancer". The National Trust of Australia challenged the ruling, but, since it had never been granted heritage status, there was no reason to delay the order. It was torn down, and the outpouring of grief afterwards inspired the writing of this song. The song celebrates the Hotel Darwin in particular, but also all our heritage structures that stand in danger from the requirements of "progress".
"Grand Old Duchess" was awarded a Special Merit award in an Australia-wide songwriting competition by the Australian Heritage Commission. It was released as a CD single in June of 2000. Proceeds from the sales benefit the National Trust in Darwin NT, Australia.