Jindabyne Joyride

27 November 2019 / Words and photos by Rod Nicholas. Additional photos courtesy of Rob Wilko

Sunday 17 November 2019

Maybe it was the promise of great high-country roads. Maybe it was the lure of lunch at the Wildbrumby Distillery. Maybe it was the weather. Whatever it was, it certainly got a crowd of MX-5 enthusiasts excited.

As a novice run leader, I though turning up early for the pre-run briefing would be sensible, but as I pulled into the carpark (five minutes early) I could see there were a dozen people waiting already. By the time I started the briefing I had 31 eager faces staring at me, waiting for the starter’s orders, and 18 cars ready to roar into life.

The run to Cooma from Hume was uneventful (with hardly a patrol car in sight), and I was more than surprised to find the convoy very much intact as we rolled to our first stop at the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre. We flooded in, dispensing orders for coffee, tea and cakes, and settled down to a good chat as we waited our turn to view a presentation in their new ‘Immersion Theatre’. It was worth the wait. Our introduction to the Snowy Hydro Scheme whet the whistle for further research on this immense project and demonstrated the ingenuity and strength of character of the many people involved. And, I must add, the folks at the Discovery Centre are great—very accommodating and wonderful to ‘do business’ with. Thanks folks!

Onwards, then, to Jindabyne and the Wildbrumby Distillery. Kosciuszko Road is a beautiful piece of rural highway that winds gently through open country to join the Alpine Way up into snow country. It wasn’t as busy as I had expected, and we made good time to our lunch stop. We presented quite a sight as we rolled into the carpark, one after the other, until all 18 cars had found a place to stop. Wildbrumby is set in beautifully maintained grounds, and although it was doing a good weekend trade, they had enough room for our noisy mob.

According to the Wildbrumby story, it was skiing and schnapps that brought Wildbrumby founder, Brad Spalding and his wife Monika to the region. Inspired by Monika’s grandfather, Stephen Hagleitner, Brad had a dream to one day introduce authentic schnapps to Australia’s Snowy region. And a good dream it was too. Using a still imported from Germany, they have been making award-winning schnapps, gins and vodkas since 2005. There were no complaints about the hospitality, food, coffee or refreshments offered here, and judging by the number of carry bags being discretely placed in the boots of the cars, there were no complaints about the schnapps either. (If you haven’t visited Wildbrumby, it is well worth the drive.)

It was a short trip back into Jindabyne to meet up with the Snowy River Way and a short but enthusiastic run into Dalgety, once a short-priced favourite for the location of our nation’s capital, and now a quiet rural town lazing along the Snowy River (something that no doubt pleases the locals). Our group started to go their own way here; a few strolled along the quiet riverbank, others were keen to get to the Christmas Barn in Bredbo before it closed, and others yet decided to just head for home.

I hope that whichever way they went they enjoyed the drive. I know the smallish group I led to Cooma via the Maffra Road relished the empty road as it gently curled back and forth along the ridgeline, the sweeping turns, the long views, and—most of all—the feel of the wind as we zoom zoomed, topless, through the countryside.

Reaching the outskirts of Cooma, we took the shortcut through Polo Flat, turned onto the Monaro Highway and headed back to Canberra. The Christmas Barn mob were still at it as we cruised through Bredbo (implausibly, they told me later they spent ‘almost nothing’ there, although how they defined ‘almost nothing’ is anybody’s guess).

We clocked up a touch short of 400 km from our Hume start point and back on a lovely late spring day. This was a good day; great roads (even the Monaro Highway has its moments), great company and great cars.

Thank you to everyone who came along for the run. I had a hoot being out in front with such a well-behaved mob.

Rod Nicholas
(formerly) Novice Run Leader

PS - If you haven't had a go at leading a run yet, give it some thought. It's not too challenging, and being out front is exhilarating!

Rod Nicholas’s photos can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/AWhjyzVCpeGeVppa9.

Rob Wilko’s photos can be found at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmJqKSQC. Great shots, Rob. Thanks for coming down to join the run. (By the way, did you know that Rob has received the 2019 Sydney Chapter Member of the Year award, racking up an outstanding 378 points—the second highest MOTY points total ever!)