NSW South-East Coast Part 4

It was late morning by the time I took the turn-off from the Hume Highway to Gundagai.

A bronze statue stands at the beginning of town, commemorating the 165th anniversary of the Great Flood of Gundagai. The sculpture celebrates the heroic work of Yarri and Jacky Jacky, along with other members of the Wiradjuri tribe. On the night of 24th June, 1852, in frail bark canoes, they rescued 69 people, one third of the town’s residents, from the flooded Murrumbidgee River.

I’m going to be very controlled in this post and not, as usual, bore everyone with endless photos of old buildings, though there are plenty. Gundagai goes back to the 1830s, so it’s quite historical and just a little bit quirky.

An interesting place is Australia’s oldest Greek Cafe, the art-deco Niagara Cafe and Milk Bar, run by Greek-Australians continuously since 1902. Leonard Jamiszewski of Masquarie University describes it as “a jewel of the period when Greek cafes nourished the nation’s appetite for a good feed after a long country drive, or before or after a night out at the flicks”.

It even had a visit in the 1942 from the then Prime Minister, John Curtin, who tucked into a midnight feast of steak and eggs in the kitchen, and granted the cafe more generous wartime rations in thanks. Curtin later died of heart disease but I don’t think it was anything to do with the Niagara.

The Niagara Cafe and Milk Bar
Niagara Cafe 1938  Photo: J. Castrission
Niagara Cafe Memorabilia

Built by German immigrant and baker, William Bibo in 1864, the Historic Gundagai Bakery is believed to be the oldest working bakery in Australia.

Present baker, John Catling, is renowned for his pies and sausage rolls. His Little John’s pies have won awards. If I’d known that at the time, I would have definitely sampled his wares.

Historic Gundagai Bakery

In the bar of the Criterion Hotel are murals of various local bushrangers, one being Andrew George Scott, otherwise known as Captain Moonlite.

Criterion Hotel Gundagai
Captain Moonlite’s Last Stand Mural at the Criterion

This is cute – a mural of Melba XV of Darbalara, a local milking cow in 1924. Melba made so much milk the excess was used for butter and cheese, and Melba became extremely famous, in fact, became the world’s champion milking cow.

On either side of her are two of her sisters, Daisy and Daphne, said to be extremely jealous that they couldn’t also come up with the goods as did Melba. Such is the legend of the Three Sisters.

Melba XV and her Sisters

The courthouse is rather beautiful.

Gundagai Courthouse
Gundagai Theatre 

Gundagai Railway Station is a heritage-listed former railway station on the Tumut railway line.

Gundagai Railway Station
The platform now grassed over.
Old railway carriage.
Yarra Park

I had booked into a motel in Holbrook, as Albury, my first stop along the Murray, was just that bit too far for that day. I’d passed through here before; I remembered that when I saw the submarine in the town gardens. Yep, there’s a submarine in the gardens.

The HMAS Otway is an above water line superstructure of the Oberon Class of submarine.

HMAS Otway

Also in the park is a model of Lt. Norman Holbrook VC’s submarine B11.

Various other naval bits and pieces.

There’s also a museum offering all sorts of submarine experiences, which I missed because of the lateness of the day.

Holbrook’s a strange little town, I’ve always thought. There never seems to be anyone around. Turns out, along with the Submarine Museum, there are various other museums, arts and crafts, a golf course, an ultralight club and a couple of nice-looking pubs. I must be passing through at the wrong time.

I left early and was in Albury for breakfast.

Albury and Wodonga are twin cities on either side of the Murray, the river creating the border between New South Wales and Victoria. The local indigenous inhabitants are the Wiradjuri. Explorers, Hamilton Hume and William Hovell arrived at this spot in November of 1824, at what their maps called ‘Crossing Point’. After that, the inevitable squatters turned up and the settlement grew. Together, the population of the two cities is now around 93,000.

I wandered for awhile, before finding a sunny cafe and tucking into scrambled eggs on sour dough, and coffee.

Next: my trip along the Murray to Cobram/Berruga, then the race home to watch the Grand Final on my own tele.

8 thoughts on “NSW South-East Coast Part 4

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