DIARY UPDATE: Week 43, 2016

WEEK 43 2016


Moree is so quiet, early in the day. Coffee from Cafe 2400 is very good. Irish lass serves me at the bakery. Visit the art gallery. Our motel is full, with a Sunstate coach parked outside. Bloke two doors down is from an Indigenous services organisation. He is overweight and a smoker, so I hope he is not pushing healthy lifestyles.


Drive south through Narrabri (voted Australia’s sportiest town in 2001); through the massive Pilliga Forest. Lunch in a park at Coonabarabran. At Peak Hill, Marie buys biscuits and jam from a shop in the historic main street. Traffic has been by-passing the town because of reports of flooding, but the waters receded ages ago. Lots of ‘tradies’ staying at our Ben Hall Motel in Forbes, a lovely town where my good mate from Murwillumbah, Adrian ‘Champs’ Chapman and I stayed in 1974, on our way to the Melbourne Cup. Pat Myers, former publican of the Murwillumbah Hotel, was once a licensee in Forbes. Pat had two lovely daughters, one of whom I took out for a while. Owner of Ben Hall Motel says the ‘tradies’ never cause any trouble, because they hit the hay early. But he won’t have road line markers stay at his establishment!! Excellent dinner at lovely Vandenberg Hotel, which was built by Dutch immigrants back in the 1880s. The barman knows former NSW Country rugby league centre, Peter Kennedy, who was a great rival of Steve Calder (former Qld Men of League CEO) when they were young men playing in the bush. Two Anglican priests next to us, as we dine.


Good coffee from ‘Cannibal’. There is a nice pictorial tribute to former Australian rugby league skipper, Ian Walsh outside one of the town’s pubs. Walsh, who played 25 Tests between 1959 and 1966, hails originally from nearby Eugowra, from where he was first chosen for Australia in 1959.

Drive south to Grenfell, the birthplace of legendary short story writer and balladist, Henry Lawson. Picnic lunch in a park at Harden. There are seven Whybrows honored on the War Memorial. Milton Whybrow, who hails from Harden, was my captain-coach at Murwillumbah Brothers in 1974. Detour into Cootamundra, to see the birthplace of the world’s best cricket batsman, Sir Donald Bradman. Stop at Gundagai, at the statue to the ‘Dog on the Tuckerbox’. Buy new season Batlow apples. Book into the Elms Motel, Tumut, and then walk along the flooded Tumut River. The motel owner, Les Holloway, has lived in Tumut all his life, and previously had the Schweppes dealership. Drinks at the Woolpack and Oriental pubs, dinner at the latter. Marie has Snowy River trout, while I tuck into lamb cutlets. No Rose’ by the glass. Barmaid tells Marie, “It doesn’t sell”. A wake is taking place, and there are some interesting looking people. The elegant Wynyard Hotel closed last week. Ted Maher, who donated the famous Maher Cup for Riverina rugby league supremacy, was the publican in 1920. I am related to him, on mum’s side.


Drive along Blowering Dam to Talbinga Dam, then the spectacular Yarrangobilly Caves. Swim in the thermal pool where National Parks officer, Rick Hardgreaves is working. Rick played rugby league at Tumut with Ian Gatenby, who is president of the Brisbane Men of League Committee. Chat to a lady from Brighton in Brisbane, who is travelling around Australia on her own. Kids from Kildare College, Wagga Wagga visit the park. Marie is the first to spot snow, as we drive the Alpine Way. Our motel at Jindabyne is weird – weeds on balcony, tv does not face lounge, layout strange.


Our eldest son, Damien is 36 today. I always seem to be away when his birthday falls. His sister, Melanie sends a lovely card, to her “irreplaceable brother.”

Drive today to Dalgety. Back in Jindabyne, I enjoy a Jindabyne Pale Ale at Banjo’s Pub, then Clancy’s, before final drinks at the Brumby Bar, back at our motel. Chat to former Cronulla halfback, Mark Wakefield, a former captain-coach of the Snowy River Bears. Mark also coached Murwillumbah Brothers and played for Villeneuve-sur-Lot Leopards in France, the first club to switch from union to league in 1934. Another former coach of Snowy River is Russell Fairfax, who played for Australia in union and NSW in league.


Chairlift from Thredbo Village to Mt Kosciuszko Lookout. There is too much snow for these Queenslanders to attempt the climb to the top of Australia’s highest peak. Drive to Charlotte Pass and back via a small bush walk at Sawpit Creek. Lots of kangaroos. Lots of deer in the National Park as well. Get up late in the night to watch England v New Zealand league Test from Huddersfield. Kiwis win 17-16, thanks to a Shaun Johnson field goal.


Wild, windy weather, so we shelter at Lake Crackenback Larder for lunch (share a vegetarian pizza). Watch Koori rugby league carnival from Leichhardt Oval in Sydney. Zac Saddler stars for La Perouse. Saddler, an Illawarra S G Ball player, has signed with Canterbury-Bankstown for 2017.

Photo 1: Ian Walsh

Photo 2: Rick Hardgreaves.

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