The Hebel general store is famous for its pies but we are a little early. The old girl was built in 1897 and the wooden floors are worse than the road, where the floor has given way altogether there are large metal patches. Just to get to the counter in the rear to place your order one must walk up hill, then down and up again, one wonders if they’ve ever contemplated re stumping. We’re concerned about the shortcut road across to Nindigully but the waitress assures us that it is a bit rough and skinny but ok. Oh Good. Morning tea is delicious I might add.
Across the road is yet another iconic pub, the Hebel Hotel. If you think this blog is a tour of iconic Aussie pubs, well you may be right but if it is too early for a pie it is definitely too early for a beer. Hebel was once a controlled border crossing when one had to pay taxes to cross what are now state borders and the general store was a Cobb & Co staging post (horse changing station). The pub still has hitching rails out front and a colourful steep red corrugated iron roof.
Whilst stretching our legs we notice a small park called the ‘history circle’ which is a group of story boards giving the town’s history with a twist:
Have you ever been to Hebel
Where it blows and blows and blows
And barring goats and bottle tops
Nothing ever grows
The heatwaves in the summer
Make the red plains shine like glass
And there’s seldom any water
And there’s seldom any grass
Jim Harper (Hebel poet)
Then there’s the story of how the locals weren’t impressed when the telephone exchange was automated in 1989, because they could no longer pick up the phone and ask the operator about the state of the roads or when visitors would be arriving.
And the massive beer bottle stack at the pub during the Second World War when draught beer wasn’t available. The stack was so large it could be seen at 3000 feet by planes on the Sydney – Hong Kong route.
For a town with little more than a store, a pub and a hall they are an interesting lot.