Riverina Reconnoitre

Reconnoitre, a verb meaning to inspect, observe, or survey in order to gain information.

Well, maybe that isn’t exactly correct as to what we were doing over the weekend just gone, but both of the words in the title start with ‘R’ and the general idea is there, so it’s close enough!

We live in the southern Riverina, and as it was school holidays, and I didn’t have to work on the Friday the wife, Miss 10, and myself travelled to town of Young about 3 hours drive north and spent the weekend there.


Today Young is known as the Cherry Capital of Australia (hence the big sign [above] located in the railway station precinct). Young owes it original existence to that yellow precious metal, Gold, which was reported to have been found there in 1860. At the time it was known as Lambing Flat because it was a place were lambing took place before the discovery of gold. The town grew quickly in the next few years and with it the trappings and facilities of civilisation arrived – the newspaper, Post Office, court house, National School, the first race meeting (which seemed to benefit the bushranger Frank Gardiner more than anyone else), the hospital, Cobb and Co coach service, and telegraph line, along with a number of churches and a flour mill. Eventually the railway, that most excellent of transportation modes, arrived.

But the history of Young also has a dark side, as does the history of many towns – the ugly spectre of racism. In the various Australian gold rushes it was not only the anglo-saxons that arrived at the diggings in large numbers. The Chinese were also a major ethnic group evident in the gold fields. Young was no exception. And in 1861, there was the first anti-Chinese riot. The various anti-Chinese riots occuring on the gold fields of Australia eventualy influenced the introduction of the infamous “White Australia Policy”. But the Chinese and indeed many other races have contributed to Australia’s development in major ways. The Chinese, for example, often developed market gardens in and around the towns where they settled, and were also willing to search for gold in areas where other’s thought it unprofitable.

Today, the town of Young recognises and embraces the influence of the Chinese on it, in the form of the Chinese Tribute Garden a few kilometres out of town and the annual Lambing Flat Chinese Festival. The gardens have been establised “in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese community to the settlement of Young in the 1860’s and to the ongoing contributions of the Chinese people to Australia as a Nation” – a far (and vastly improved) cry from the general feeling in the 1860’s!

After attending church on Sabbath morning and experiencing country hospitality we drove out to Tout’s Lookout, where we had a great view of the surrounding valleys and hills, and a chance to try some ‘trick’ photography using the panorama setting on my camera.

The next day saw us back in the car heading towards home. Rebecca and Eliana ‘enjoyed’ some back-to-school shopping, while I decided that retail therapy was not for me so I went for a nearly 10km hike along a section of the Wiradjuri Trail which circumnavigates the town of Wagga Wagga.

The Wiradjuri were the largest indigenous people group in New South Wales that were united by a common language, with strong ties of kinship, and were hunter / fisher / gatherers throughout central area of the state. The tribal area of the Wiradjuri has been described as the “land of the 3 rivers”, those rivers today being known as the Lachlan, Macquarie and Murrumbidgee rivers. A fourth river, the Murray, was the southern boundary of the tribal area.

These are a few of my favourite things

Over the last weekend, which we extended to 4 days (including travel), I got to indulge in some of my favourite things:

  • Small towns
  • Mountainous / rugged scenery
  • Hiking

There is something about small towns that I find very appealing. Some have a slightly run-down look, they tend to be unpretentious, laid-back, life seems a little slower and gentler than in the large towns and cities, and they tend to be sorounded by some beautiful landscapes. Jindabyne, one of my favourite towns, is probably not exactly like that as it is a major tourist centre and gateway to Thredbo and Perisher and the southern half of the Kosciuszko National Park. But it small enough to be a relaxing place to visit, and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, in my opinion.

There is nothing quite like mountainous and rugged scenery to generate a sense of ‘wow’! And the area around Jindabyne has plenty of it, whether it’s rolling hills and farmland, rugged peaks and steep valleys, beautiful lakes and rivers. And what better way to see and explore those things than to hike some of it. So it was Rebecca, Eliana, and myself that set out for Jindabyne for the weekend to explore the region.

Before the sunlight of Sabbath peaked over the hills, while the girls slept in, I went for a walk along the Lake Jindabybe foreshore trying to get to a location where I could get some good photos of the sunrise over the lake. The foreshore has a good track from the town centre in both directions. After enjoying the sunrise, I headed back to the motel for some breakfast. By this time the girls were up.

The original plan was that we would spend at least some of Sabbath at our church’s annual ‘Big Camp’, but apparently we needed to book by sometime in November last year, and we hadn’t decided that we would be going to camp till a few weeks ago. So instead of spending Sabbath indoors, we spent time exploring the natural beauty of the region. Rebecca and Eliana are not very experienced hikers, but they did really well with the hikes, especially with the steepness of some of the tracks.

We headed south east from Jindabyne, going through Bombala to the South East Forests National Park. On the way we stopped at Dalgety, the town that claims to be “the only town left on the Snowy River”. Quite small in size, it has a lot of historical buildings. We didn’t so much explore those, but went for a wander along the banks of that most iconic of Australian rivers, the Snowy River and saw plenty of platypus habitat, but alas, no platypus.

At Bombala we stopped for a bit of a break, and then continued on to the Pheasants Peak walk, a 4+ km hike which we thought would have some awesome views but it appears we were wrong. Not that the scenery wasn’t stunning as the following photos will declare. I think if we had been willing to climb over the rocks for a few hundred meters when we reached the “Pheasants Peak” sign we would have been rewarded with those views, but as it was Rebecca and Eliana we getting pretty tired and a bit sore.

From the trackhead we drove north to the Myanba Creek Gorge. This was a much shorter walk at about 2km, through some stunning rocky scenery with a great view down the eastern escarpment where the creek cascades down the mountain.

By the time we got back to the car Eliana was looking pretty worn out, and Rebecca was wanting to do something less strenuous, and it was approaching dinner time. So we decided we would head back to Jindabyne via Nimmitabel, Cooma and Berridale, and had a dinner of soup and bread, and macaroons, at Nimmitabel under the watchful eyes of a statue of an elephant.

On the map we got from the information centre at Jindabyne it showed “Berridale Boulders”, not far from Berridale. Not knowing exactly what that meant I wanted to check it out. Not long before Berridale, seemimgly without reason there was a whopping big lattice-work metal ball. And then there were the boulders – lots of them, scattered around a large area on both sides of the road. I imagine the farmland is hard to work with such boulders scattered about. Maybe thats partly why it is mainly cattle sheep grazing country?

And that was pretty much the end of the day and we retired back to our hotel room for some relaxation time.

On Sunday we decided we would explore some of the Kosciuszko National Park. We started with the Sawpit Creek Waterfall Loop walk, a 6km hike with gentle hills (especially when compared to the Pheasants Peak walk), through alpine meadows and alpine ash forests. And more rocks. If there is one word that describes the most common feature of the walks we went on it have to be “rocks” – everywhere we went we saw rocks!

When we completed the walk, we drove back to the Thredbo River picnic area and had some lunch, and then we decided that we would drive across to the Threadbo Diggings camp ground, and I would go for another walk while Rebecca and Eliana relaxed by the river. This second walk was along the Thredbo River to Bullocks Flat, where the Skitube station and Bullocks Hut are the main features. While I was on the walk Rebecca managed to get a bit sunburnt, and even today (Tuesday 19th Jan) as I write this she is still feeling the effects of it.

Then to reward ourselves on having a really interesting day, we decided we would find a restaurant in Jindabyne. We decided on the Alpine Diner, partly because it catered well to vegetarians. So after a rather delicious dinner (the best eat-out experience I have had in a long time) we went back to the motel room.

The next day, we were homeward bound, via Albury where we purchased some hiking boots for Eliana and myself.