We left Canberra this morning with happy memories of the 50 Year Vietnam War Commemoration and the mates that I had caught up with over lunch yesterday.
Just out of Canberra, the road passed Lake George which for most of my memory had been empty and the land used for grazing sheep and cattle. Right now, it is full of water and looks like an inland sea. It is over seven metres deep at its deepest point. The lake fills periodically from rainfall but has no streams or rivers to empty it. After a period of heavy rain (the last few years) it has filled, but will eventually become dry again through evaporation and seepage.
In Goulburn, we fiddled around for a while with a quick drive around the town and a stop to refuel. We had seen many of its sights on a previous driving trip when we visited the towns where Jill’s grandfather had served as a police officer. We bought a sandwich for lunch and headed up the road to the town of Oberon to find a place to stop and eat. It was a cold windy day, so an outdoor picnic spot was very unattractive so we just ate in the car. .
The joys of travelling along a rural back road are the interesting scenery and the quaint little towns.
We drove for many kilometres before we found a place to stop for lunch. Most of the countryside that we passed through was undulating grazing land, often with sheep on one side of the road and beef catle on the other.
Eventually, we came to the little village of Taralaga. It’s a small historic town in the Southern Tablelands and is known for its fine collection of nineteenth century buildings as well as its famous Australia Day Rodeo. The town was built on land donated by the son of wool pioneer John Macarthur. It was cleared and developed by convicts in the mid-1800s.
The town’s Royal Hotel was built in the 1870s. It was for many years the surgery of local doctor, Ettie Lyons. She was one of the first female doctors in New South Wales. She began practising in Taralga in 1917 and continued as the town’s doctor for the next 37 years.
The Wesleyan (Methodist) Church was built in 1868 on land donated by James Macarthur’s sheep overseer, Thomas Denning. Today the Taralga Historical Society uses the building and the surrounding grounds for “heritage displays”. The sign out the front states it is “Open most Sundays from 1pm or by appointment”.
After lunch we continued on towards the town of Oberon which is named after the King of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s play ‘A Mid Summer Nights Dream. The further we went, the colder it became. At one point, the car ‘dinged’ us with an alert to tell us that the outside temperature had fallen to just 3C. We had climbed gradually up through the New South Wales Southern Tablelands and at this altitude it is not uncommon for snow to fall. Here we are travelling north to find some warmth and we find that we are still cold!
It was still a little too warm for snow but it was foggy and difficult to see very much of the scenery.
In the town of Oberon we stopped for a couple of minutes but it was so cold and windy that we quickly retreated back to the car. Outside the Big Trout Motor Inn is the town’s “Big Trout” which, for some reason, is rarely listed in Australia’s Big Things. The Big Trout has recently been refurbished and repainted and is definitely worth inspecting if you are an admirer of our national eccentric interest in big things.
We seem to have a penchant for big attractions in Australia – the Big Merino is in Goulburn, the BIg Lobster is in Kingston SE and the Big Koala is in Dadswells Bridge. We will probably see the Big Pineapple and the Big Banana when we get to Queensland. Stay tuned! Most of these places have nothing else going for them, so a big something-or-other is an attempt at creating an attraction to see.
We are staying in Blackheath for the next two nights and hope that the weather clears tomorrow so that we can get some good views from the various lookouts in the Blue Mountains.