May 29, 2015A Night at the (Contemporary) Opera (Milano – 29 May, Day 5)
A Bicycle Riding Holiday – Day 4: Crookwell to Taralga
Anzac Day 2018 I wanted to ride someplace quiet and beautiful. I chose the area around Goulburn, New South Wales.
This is the telling of that journey in words and pictures. I’ve split each day into three pieces – the story, some history, and the details (of route, accommodation and food).
Tuesday 24 April 2018
This is a holiday: beautiful weather, great riding conditions for the most part, no cooking, no penny-pinching – without being profligate, lots of reading, lots of sleeping. I had another fantastic night’s sleep last night, 8h13m, and I’m averaging 8h38m this week. Love it.
I go looking for breakfast and end up at Paul’s Cafe. It’s more expensive than Some Cafe in Collector and absolutely not worthy of it. Eggs cooked in rings, a big pile of limpid bacon (I had ordered it crisp), cheap white toast with margerine, a formerly-frozen hash brown patty, and they forget my tomato – which, when I remind them, they deliver. They’re friendly, I’ll give them that – but they really could do to up their game. On the positive, I guess, there was enough bacon to make lunch of with some left over toast.
Before leaving Crookwell, my host Spud sends me to the tourist office to say g’day to Elizabeth from Virginia. Because, as much as I think of myself as Elizabeth from Sydney (been there for 18 years), Spud insists on me being Elizabeth from Chicago.
Turns out Elizabeth from Virginia is actually Elizabeth from Australia who spent 17 years in Virginia. She and her American husband have recently moved to Crookwell as her parents have retired nearby. We have a long conversation about the gem of a touring route they are sitting on. I share a bunch of the ideas which have been bubbling in my head, and, happily, I think she is keen to hear them.
Today – again, the weather is beautiful – clear blue sky, warm but not hot. Much of the ride is on unpaved roads and about a third or half of it varying degrees of corrugated.
I am very rarely passed by motorized traffic, although there are properties all along the route. I see three, maybe four, dead wombats – they are all really big. It’s so sad to see so many getting killed on one lightly used road. I also see one living echidna. So, two of those so far. And one kangaroo yesterday. And loads of parrots – so many parrots. And some heron – white and grey.
It’s a physically challenging day, and slow – my real average is probably only 9 or 10 kilometres per hour (6 miles per hour) – made higher by some fantastic rolling downhill in the final run into my destination town, Taralga.
Taralga feels a bit more substantive than Collector – there is a main street with several businesses including a post office – but it is still more a village than a town.
The hotel is a glorious 19th century stone building and my room, while simple, is clean, comfortable and recently renovated.
I wander up Orchard Street to the General Store and Tea Rooms for a sausage roll from the warmer and a banana as a bit of a late second lunch – I’d eaten my left over bacon and toast along the road someplace but the hunger hole has reappeared.
I learn from the woman in the shop that there is an Anzac Day dawn service at the Cenotaph opposite the hotel at 5:30 am. Easy done.
Spud suggested I have a look at the Catholic church here – which I do – quite impressive. They built it during the depression to keep people employed, he told me.
I feel like I’ve seen the village. There are some additional businesses further up Orchard but I’m tired and don’t walk up there. It’s getting on closing time so they’re unlikely to be open in any case. I retreat to the pub and settle in at an outdoor table with my beer, a bag of Twisties, and my book.
I’m glad there’s only one day left. I’m really enjoying it but I’m tired. If I was on a longer tour I’d be taking two nights in Goulburn.
There are two theories as to the naming of Taralga. One is that it is a corruption of ‘Trial Gang’, as the area hosted early trials of convicts and bushrangers. The second is that the word means ‘native companion’ in the language of the Burra people, whose traditional land the village lies on.
The area was settled from the 1820s by the influential Macarthur family – they of the sheep – and the region became a wool-producing area courtesy, initially, of convict labour. A gold rush in the 1860s brought more people to the district.
On census night 2016 there were 467 people in Taralga including 10 people of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage. There aren’t many curiosities here – the nationalities offered to the ancestry question are Australian, English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh. There were three people born in Germany; four whose mother was born in Germany. It’s an homogenous sort of place.
I had breakfast at Paul’s Café in Crookwell. At $19.50 it’s the most expensive breakfast yet – which is crazy. $0.50 more than Some Café and nowhere near as good.
I rode 56.58 kilometres per my bicycle computer: I left Crookwell on Harley Road, turning left on Roslyn Road, right on Woodhouselee Road, left on Middle Arm Road, left on Carrabungla Road, right on Mount Rae Road, right on Laggan-Taralga Road for a downhill roll into town.
The Taralga Hotel ($80 with breakfast) has a fancier web page than hotel. It’s a nice country pub, but just a country pub – small double room with a shared bath – modern, though, recently redone and private.
I had dinner at the hotel as well – the chicken schnitzel with mash, veggies and gravy. It took quite a while to come – but they were busy, and it was fine, if not especially good ($22).