Sep 2019, Jugiong, NSW
A small village. A wine cellar, The Long Track Pantry café, a cop shop, a stark white church on the hill and a pub the Sir George. Across the road a vast open space, the Recreation Reserve is flanked by the Murrumbidgee River. To our right caravans are camped on the grass, to our left the annual Campdraft is taking place. The camping section of the park is level and there is more than enough room for hundreds of vans. There are toilets, riverfront positions and fires are permitted all for the price of a donation. Exhilarated once more, there’s little for us to do but park, light the fridge on gas and go exploring.
The spring sun is warm on our faces and rows of prunus are in bloom. The pub has been sensitively restored. Originally built in 1852 it was burnt down and rebuilt in the 1930’s. In the back yard there are cute accommodation cabins and an artisan baker working from a stone bakery. We have a cold beer in the front bar and just take it all in.
Over in the park there are frisky horses, horse floats, caravans and folks who wear Akubras well, really well. Campdrafting requires skilled riders to cut cattle out from a mob and the audience, leaning on the rails, are particularly vocal when a steer ducks and weaves away from his captors.
Thanks to our last night neighbours who are again camped near us we have booked a table for dinner. And the place is jumping with over refreshed guests from a 40th birthday luncheon, local graziers, the equestrians and grey nomads. A warm fire burns in the Ladies Lounge. While Woody has a parma I choose the …wait for it …charred lamb cutlets with sweet potato, broccolini and feta. Why lamb cutlets again? Well out of curiosity more than anything as the lamb has been grown by the lady publican’s husband and the menu goes into great detail as to the breed and its diet (and no, it’s poo isn’t cubed like wombats). Outside there’s a fire glowing in the courtyard and a table full of blokes hunched together with Akubra hats nodding.
To save ourselves from further pub accidents we turn on our ‘dickhead torches’ and stagger back to the warmth of the van to watch AFL finals footy.