Monthly Archives: April 2022
Tumut to Khancoban
It is a short hop, skip and a jump to Khancoban, 142 km, but we decided to stop about half way at Tumbarumba. The weather was not looking good further along so we decided to hole up here to see if it would pass. We wanted fine weather up in the high counntry at Tom Groggin so an overnight stop at Tumbarumba might just allow that timing slot. We will see.
Great little caravan park not far from the centre of town, plenty of trees around us in full colour. Not to mention an enticing bakery. There was a choice of two sizes in custard tarts, a big one (the normal size I suppose) and a slightly smaller one. Allthego selected the larger one because it is shared with Homealone. Not a bad tart….there was a splash of nutmeg rather than a dusting which made it distinctive. Quite tasty. Nice and firm.
Took the short drive out to the nearby hamlet of Rosewood for lunch at a nursery, ‘Gone Barny’. Great spot and a nice cafe type lunch. Tumbarumba to Rosewood is a popular 20 or so kilometre rail trail for cyclists, along the old railway line from Albury, long closed of course. Rural scenery special, plenty of horses in paddocks.
Next morning it was back on the road to Khancoban which is on the western side of the Snowy Mountains. It is the last town on the Alpine Way before entering Kosciuszko National Park and sits beside Lake Khancoban, really one of the Snowy Scheme dams. There are some great views of the High Country along the way. Sections of the road are lined by poplars and other varieties.
Our campground is beside the lake and we are greeted there by a rainbow trout sculpture. Further up the Alpine Way is Tom Groggin Campground beside the upper reaches and not far from the source of the Murray River, known as the Indi River in this section of its course. Tom Groggin is our next destination, weather permiting for two nights, for the start of our run down the Murray.
We have made it to Tumut. This is a neat little town and we are camped on the banks of the Tumut River a few hundred metres from the centre of town. Sort of too far to walk but not far enough to drive. So it depends what mood you are in and what you have to carry back of course! Allthego set off early one morning along the river walk, very pleasant stroll into town. The objective was to pick up a loaf of bread for breakfast from the local bakery, but what does one find at a bakery, all sorts of goodies. So back he came with some bacon and cheese topped buns and a custard tart, as well as the bread of course. Carting this stuff back resulted in the bread being a little crushed in order to save the rolls and the buns. The buns though were excellent along with some bacon and eggs for breakfast beside the shallow swift flowing river. This part of the world is now showing the full colours of the autumn transformation. The poplars, elms and liquid ambers are golden in colour with splahes of orange and red here and there. Fallen leaves cover the campsite.
Tumut is a very outdoors sort of place being in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. The Tumut River is a tributary of the Murrumbigee River, Australia’s second longest river. The headwaters of the Tumut, as well as its tributaries, have been harnessed by the Snowy Scheme for hydro electricity production through a series of power stations. The water ultimately collects in Blowering Dam a few kilometres away from the town before being released downstream, past our caravan site, to ultimately join the Murrumbigee to supply irrigation waters for the Riverina agricultural region. The Murrumbigee River later joins the Murray at Boundary Bend, near Balranald.
We have had good weather to date. Sunny, dry and blue skies but the forcasters are pointing towards some rain. So we set off to look around the district with an afternoon trip to Blowering Dam and along the Snowy Mountains Highway for awhile towards Talbingo. Next day it was off to nearby Batlow to check out the apples and cider. We came back to Tumut via a loop road through Adelong, a small town famous for its gold mining heritage in the Adelong Gorge. Here, along the gorge banks are the remnant stone works of a major 19 th century gold mining enterprise. Quite an interesting site to view from the top looking down. It must have been a hive of activity a hundred and sixty years ago.
Have finally managed to get to that custard tart for morning tea after a walk around the camp ground. The custard was a nice deep yellow, maybe organic eggs? Plenty of nutmeg on top too for flavour. Quite stiff as well with a nice crusty pastry. A top custard tart from Tumut, superior to the one from Inglewood.
Have had lunch today at the Tumut River Brewing Company, an enterprising spot with a good range of craft beers and ciders. We enjoyed a meat lovers pizza to help with the liquids.
Next door is the Tumut Broom factory which has been making millet brooms since 1946. It is a bit of a cottage industry which now relies on the import of millet from Mexico. Back in the old days Australia produced a lot of millet but sadly our local production is quite small and can’t support this business. The brooms are distributed through hardware groups such as Mitre 10. It seems most people who stop by here leave with a broom! A bus load of grey nomads on tour was here when we arrived and many brooms left with them. Also with us, it will be very useful sweeping the mat outside the van. Got to find room for it somewhere though!
Our last day here in Tumut has been dampened by the onset of drizzle which is forecast to continue for a few days until late in the weekend when the sun returns. We leave in the morning and are not sure of where our next stop will be. We are hoping to time the weather so that we will be high in the mountains near the source of the Murray with some sunshine and blue skies.
It is not far from Forbes to Grenfell, about 65 km. Bob was wrong, two nights is required in Grenfell, unless you wanted to go out and do a few bushwalks in the Weddin Mountains NP, in which case you would need another night or two!
Now, one of the things we have come to learn in our travels is that Australian country towns really like to highlight famous sons and daughters. Grenfell lays claim to four. In no order of importance, Stan McCabe, Jan O’Neill, Ben Hall and Henry Lawson. The last two are quite prominent.
The town has the annual Henry Lawson Festival. Lawson was born on the gold fields in Grenfell in 1867. He left, never to return, several months later as a child in arms. After leaving town as a youngster he became profoundly deaf after illness and with limited formal education he went on to be one of our celebrated late 19th Century early 20th Century poets and story tellers. Much is made by Grenfell of the Lawson heritage. There is a sugar gum planted in 1924, near where he was born, that is growing strongly today nearly 100 years later. It looks like it will live for many years yet to come. A statue to sit by on a street corner and a bust with buttons to push that play some of his poetry and tales (only during daylight hours of course!).
Stan McCabe was born in Grenfell in July 1910. Cricket tragics of Allthego’s vintage will know the name, if not the record. He was a contemporary of Donald Bradman in the Australian Test team during the 1930s. He played 39 tests for Australia and averaged 48. Not bad. There is an oval in the town named after him, nothing much else. Prominent in the town museum though!
Jan (Lehane) O’Neill was born near Grenfell in 1941 and went on to be one of our leading Australian female tennis players in the late 1950s early 1960s, she reached a career ranking of 7 in 1963. She won a number of Australian junior tournaments and went on to win overseas, but never the big ones. She was a contemporary in the Australian women’s team with Margaret (Smith) Court. She was beaten by Smith in the final of the Australian championships four years in a row, 1960-63. She was the first leading female with a double-handed backhand.
Ben Hall, the bushranger was shot in 1865 in Forbes at the age of 28. Over hundred robberies were attributed to Hall and his associates. We saw his grave in the Forbe’s cemetary. He was a Grenfell identity though and frequented the region, using the area as a base for his activities. A cave in the Weddin Mountains is thought to be one of his hide-outs, we did the short walk up the escarpment to its location. Interesting spot, a good look out for approaching police!
Gold was big in Grenfell too in the 1860s and remnants of the mines are on display on O’Briens Hill. A couple of open shafts and old equipment lie around the workings. There were more than ten thousnad people working on the diggings when Henry Lawson was born. Something like thirty hotels lined the town’s streets, ten banks as well, some of the grander buildings remain today. Trains no longer come to Grenfell to carry away wool and grain, but the restored heritage station and its precincts stand, nearby the free camp site for van travellers.
The latest tourist magnet for the town is a painted grain silo. A bit of a gem this is and something to be admired. How these artists paint these panoramic instatallations is amazing, they are only feet from the silo and several metres above the ground, with paint brushes and cans of spray paint. How do they get the perspective? Allthego sent the drone up for a photo, getting a different angle.
It was a couple of busy days in Grenfell and Allthego almost missed seeing the Parramatta Eels clean up the Newcastle Knights 39-2. The final ten minutes were caught on the big screen late on the Sunday at the Criterion Hotel, with Mitch Moses kicking that last second field goal!
We now head off to Tumut, it is tempting to stay another day! Haven’t checked out the cemetery or had the time to try a local custard tart!
Murray River times
We have escaped the cave after having a dose of COVID and doing the isolation thing. It is off down south to the Murray River, Australia’s longest river at 2,508 km and interestingly, it is navigable for almost 2000 km making it the third longest navigable river in the world; after the Amazon and Nile. Allthego has long thought that it would be an adventure to follow the river from near its source in the Snowy Mountains to where it empties into the sea in South Australia.
So, we are off with the van in tow making our way down the Newell Highway, after heading west from Brisbane through Warwick and Goondiwindi. This is the usual path we follow when going south through central NSW stopping first at a great free camp spot in Inglewood, followed by the John Oxley Caravan Park in Coonabarabran and then the free camp beside the lake at Forbes. Inglewood has an excellent bakery, great bread rolls and a selection of inspiring pastries. On this occasion we had to try their custard tart, it looked very tempting. We are going to test out some other bakeries on this journey and see if their custard tarts are as good as the Inglewood one was. It seems that in Australia we follow the English tradition of custard tarts, the base being a baked egg custard in a crust pastry topped with nutmeg. The Portuguese claim to make a great custard tart but theirs is housed in puff pastry topped with cinnamon, haven’t come across one of these.
After leaving Inglewood we stopped to have a look at the silo art installation at Yelarbon, about 50 km from Goondiwindi. We were last by this way about three years ago and only four (or was it five?) of the silos had been completed, now all eight are done and it is quite an impressive panorama representing the surrounding region.
Down in Forbes we are beside the Forbes Lake in the free camp along with a number of other vans of all shapes and sizes. It is a pretty spot with the sun going down throwing up a colourful sunset, last time we were here we looked across the lake at a huge dust storm. It turned out that Leanne’s brother Stuart and his wife Maree were in town visiting Maree’s father Bob. All three joined us for a short happy hour as the sun started to go down. Nearly three years since we had last seen them.
We are now heading off down to Grenfell for a couple of nights, never been there before. Bob wasn’t sure we needed two nights there to see things.