Day 113 Thursday 1/10/20 Canowindra to Grenfell, sunny 19
We decide on a late start so that we can have a good look at the town when the businesses are open. It’s also a good excuse for Elle and I not to be rushed by the boys trying not to keep each other waiting. Heaven forbid!
Canwindra’s curving Gaskill Street is lined with verandas and is a jolly jumble of heritage listed buildings from many eras. There are veranda posts, two storey pubs, lead light glass and very friendly folk just itching for a chat. This town is famous for many things. For being the ballooning capital of Australia and for the town that was held hostage in the pub for 3 days by Ben Hall the bushranger back in 1863. That’s right, the residents were herded into the pub for three days and it sounds like it was probably more of a shindig than an inconvenience. Wondering what the many signs were alluding to we later learn that the Age of Fishes Museum houses what David Attenborough has described as a world class collection of Devonian fish fossils which were unearthed by a probably very surprised road worker back in 1956. Bugger, we missed the fish fossils!
Pressing on the small town of Gooloogong has a town hall with a difference. And gee I love a good old country hall. The Gooloogong town hall is a log cabin and a big one at that.
It’s a decent road through here with acres of wheat and the roadsides fringed with Paterson’s Curse which we’ve now learnt has gone gangbusters since the drought broke. We decide to stop and stretch our legs at Grenfell and instantly we’re captivated by the beauty of the town. El Prado wanders into the Info Centre (probably to chat to someone other than the rest of us) and gets a list of the local sights. He tells the lady on duty that he is impressed with the town and she (being a sweet talker) says “Well, why don’t you stay?” And we do, for three days!
The disused railway station has been restored to its former glory, toilets and a shower have been added and a covered BBQ shelter to create as good a freedom camp as you could find. The grass is thick and level and there’s water available from a nearby tap.
The town of Grenfell reeks of history. Gold was discovered here in 1866 (if you’re following the dates that was 3 years after the Canowindra folk were locked in the pub) and a town was quickly established. A massive fire in 1888 destroyed up to 30 buildings. At the heart of sheep and grain growing country this town once boasted 33 hotels and even today we wander about counting the number of still operating hotels. The handsome main street hosts a feast of architecture with impressive credentials. For example the Union Bank building was designed by architect William Wardell who also designed Sydney’s St. Mary’s Cathedral and Melbourne’s Government House, E.S & A Bank and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I get a kick out of ‘collecting’ iron lacework and here I found 4 patterns I haven’t seen before. Shady street trees and flowers blooming just make you feel good just being here. To the north of the Main Street is George Street, the original Main Street before the town was surveyed. Old George Street wasn’t wide enough for horse drawn drays to turn around and was thus superseded. It all makes for an interesting ramble as the buildings in George Street are much older and less solid in construction.
At happy hour in the BBQ shelter it is warm and the Apostle birds hop about. We meet two couples from the Riverina. Having grown up in Barellan one woman tells us that she once beat Evonne Goolagong at tennis, clarifying that she was only 10 at the time and Evonne a very much younger!
Travelling Kms: 75kms