Walcha Weekend

29 October 2018

Our Walcha Trip remembering Mike Walkden-Brown


Early start Saturday morning we met at Oliver’s Real Food at the ‘Donut’ intersection. There was Peter and Jill, Wayne and Cathy, Allen and Pam, Murray and Margaret, Robert and Rhonda, Greg, and Graham our Convenor. A beautiful, sunny morning as 7 cars readied themselves with Peter and Jill in the lead, for the drive to Waterman’s Café – the best in Wauchope – for early morning tea or brekky – banana bread, croissants, granola, Portuguese custard tarts, apple-maple granola slice and lots of tea and coffee. We couldn’t do the early morning run to Ginger’s Café because all the motorcycle riders were doing the Oxley Bicentennial Ride at that time and we didn’t want to get in their way! Warm sunshine as we headed out past Curly’s Café and Timbertown to our first major roadworks stop at Yippin Creek on the Oxley Highway at the 160km sign to Walcha. The roadworks are to get rid of the bends and corners in that area. Did you see the mobile speed camera van in amongst the traffic passing us on the other side? Past Huntingdon Public School – such a pretty environment for the kids, through Bago Bluff Forest area – and oops nearly took the Byabarra turn off. Fresh farm eggs for sale at Claremont property before the first twisty hill climb to Long Flat. Rushing over Rushers Creek as we sped along looking at the beautiful green hills, light fluffy clouds and blue skies as we headed past Mount Seaview Resort. Then, along the run in the sunshine, with the sounds of bellbirds, and the windy, curvy road to Gingers Café. Two slow vehicles kindly let us pass and then a horse trailer – so slow held us up. At Ginger’s a multitude of bikes were parked but we managed to fit ourselves in. We met the ladies dressed in their 19th century celebration outfits, collected our Bicentennial Ride certificates, bookmarks and fudge chocolate samples and after photos galore set off again. Numerous sections of minor roadworks and speed limits to slow us down. Then we drove through the beautiful Yarrowitch Valley. The name, Yarrowitch, was probably derived from the English place name Yarrow, although there is an Aboriginal word 'Yarrawee', said to mean 'gum tree growing in water'. Amazingly there is a Telstra public phone situated on the corner of Yarrowitch Church Road. The next couple of slow downs were the cattle grazing on the roadside as we passed near the Tia River – apparently it is a trout stream.  We stopped at Wild Rivers National Park to view the Apsley Falls flowing quite strongly. Robert entertained us all in the car park with a couple of well-loved tunes on his bagpipes. We drove straight through Walcha to the Walcha Road Pub for lunch. The dining room was all set up for us and we enjoyed a delicious counter meal and drinks as we perused the idiosyncratic paintings of the late artist Peter Blaney. Then it was off on the 19km run to the village of Wollun and picking up Kevin and Jen on the way to Dobson’s Distillery on the Eastview Estate at Kentucky – check out their website! We were booked in for 2pm and had a great rundown on their famous gins, whiskeys and vodkas by Lyn Dobson. Then we tried some tasters, Greg proposed a toast to our friend Mike, checked out the quirky shop, bought a few samples and then headed off with Kevin in the lead to Walcha Motel. After settling in to our rooms we all set off up the hill to the Commercial Hotel, built back in 1864 a typical hotel of its era on the outside but with ultra-modern renovations in the lounge and dining room. We enjoyed a noisy, friendly, appetising dinner and drinks before heading off back down the hill to the motel. Up bright and early for breakfast at 8am – too early for some. Enjoying eggs, bacon, sausages and hash browns we appreciated each other’s company once again before setting off on our separate ways.

Many thanks to Peter McDonnell for organising the weekend.

Official report by Jill McDonnell.

Photos by Graham Rochester and Greg Cox.