Odometer: 2058 km
We have left the solitude of the high country. Mike and I had a great day on Sunday in our off-grid cabin; keeping the log fire going, playing dominoes, scrabble and connect four. I still haven’t managed to beat Mike in scrabble since 1992! Getting through the ADF/Police State Border checkpoint went without problems. There is not much traffic, the guys on duty were quite bored and happy to have a chat. It has been a cold winter for them, to date they have spent over $20,000 on firewood alone!
We headed back towards Jindabyne, and then turned again onto the Alpine Way, taking the scenic route to Upper Murray country. We made a quick stop to admire our friend Duncan’s farm, which only happened to be the famous Tom Groggin Station. Jack Riley (1841 – 1914), manager on this station, is believed to have been the inspiration for the “Man from Snowy River”, the famous poem by Banjo Patterson. The Station is nestled next to Kosciuszko NP, 2000 acres of lush green hills alongside the Murray River. An amazing spot! And as it is spring, the pastures were full of calves and lambs.
We continued our drive along the Alpine Way, and through more of the area that was devastated by the 2020 bush fires. Near Tumbarumba large tracts of forest plantations were burned out, leaving a waste land behind. Also here, the gum trees are all sprouting large amounts of new growth, but the pines looked like burned match sticks.
We arrived in Gundagai, described as the quintessential Australian Country Town. It turns out to be full of friendly people, and home to lovely old buildings, such as the old mill, courthouse and train station. It is also the site of Australia deadliest natural disaster, until cyclone Tracey hit Darwin. In 1852 the river flooded 41 ft, 79 people drowned and the floods destroyed the original township. Two local aboriginal men called Yarri and Jacki Jacki rescued over 60 men, women and children from the water.
And for those who just rush past this lovely spot on the Hume Highway, this is also the site for the “Dog on the Tucker Box” statue, known across Australia from a poem about the relationship between the pioneering teamster Billy the Bullocky and his dog.
- Best coffee: without doubt, the Coffee Pedaler in Gundagai
- Accomodation: AirBnB “the Bank” in Gundagai, former bank building turned into a funky apartment.
- Tip: Definitely stop at the “dog on the tucker box” statue, and then go on into town, sample the best coffee between Sydney and Melbourne. Businesses in the countryside are clearly suffering after the fires, the floods and now the pandemic, and need our support if they are to survive!