We are visiting the Nation’s capital, Canberra with Cathy and her girls. We spent two leisurely days driving here from Melbourne.
We met up with Cathy at the roadhouse cafe near Wallan, north of Melbourne and then continued along the Hume Highway. Our first stop was just north of Seymour at Fowles Winery who make some excellent wines, some which are especially designed to be drunk with a real of game meat. The have quite unique names such as a red wine named ‘Are You Game’ and a riesling named ‘Ladies Who Shoot Their Own Lunch’ The lady at the winery described it as being ‘full bodied’ and I couldn’t resist buying a couple of bottles. I thought that a full bodied lady who shot her own lunch was someone to be admired. Especially if you could also ask ‘Are you game’!!
We stopped at the winery town of MIlawa for lunch. This little town has some nice restaurants and some decent wineries. It is near Rutherglen which was known for its full bodied reds that I remember from the old days. Some of them were so heavy that you could almost stand a spoon up in the glass. Unfortunately. most reds made and sold in Australia are now much lighter. There is an amazing cheese shop at the old butter factory which sells around twenty types of cheese made from both sheep and cows milk. We didn’t have any way of keeping cheese cool as we travelled so we might have to consider stopping on the way back to purchase a few varieties to take home.
From there we drove on to Gapstead (near Myrtleford) for another stop at a winery and then on to Albury via the pretty little town of Yackandandah and a nice valley along the Murray River. “Yack’ as it is locally known has a well preserved streetscape of quaint old buildings and is quite the heritage town.
Our second day saw us driving from Albury to Canberra. We stopped at Holbrook along the way for the girls to stretch their legs.
Holbrook used to be called Germanton but in the patriotic frenzy of WW1, its name had to be changed from anything connected with the ‘Hun’. The locals chose the name ‘Holbrook’ after a British submariner who was awarded a Victoria Cross at Gallipoli. It always seems odd to me that a submarine museum should exist in an inland town, located miles from the ocean, but there in the park is a full sized submarine. It’s the decommissioned HMAS Otway.
Holbrook was the last town to be bypassed by the new highway. It had a very nice bakery that was a great stopping place for lunch but I don’t know how it is faring with so little traffic in the town now. The main street is very wide – wide enough to turn around a dray hauled by bullocks. The old pubs in the main street are grand in size, although not so grand now in appearance anymore. The largest one has now been converted into a museum. This southern area of New South Wales is still a prime area for growing wool and it was in its heyday around the turn of the 19th Century when ‘Australia roe on the sheep’s back’. Transporting the wool to market in those days was hard work.
A little further up the road the little town of Gundagai. It was another ‘wool town’ and is located on the banks of the famous Murrumbidgee River. We think of it often as the pewter wall clock in our kitchen was a wedding gift to us from the family who owned the jewellery shop in the town. They were friends of Jill’s parents.
Just out of the town and along the highway is the statue of the Dog on the Tuckerbox. It’s not very big and it is now surrounded by a whole lot of rundown tourist shops at a location called Snake Gully. It was unveiled by the then Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons on 28 November 1932 as a tribute to pioneers. The statue was inspired by a bullock drover’s poem, “Bullocky Bill”, which celebrates the real life of a drover’s dog that loyally guarded the man’s tuckerbox (an Australian colloquialism for a box that holds food) until his death.
We reached Canberra late in the afternoon following a couple of other stops for ice creams and leg stretches. It’s a bit different traveling with children – we need more stops. Audrey and Violet did, however, enjoy listening to an audio book named “ The Midnight Gang’ by David Walliams which they highly recommend.