Wombat Wandering Picnic Run

02 September 2020 / Words and photos by Rod Nicholas

Wednesday 26 August 2020

The weak sun glistened on the frost as I let the dog out in the morning. Ice was thick on the car windscreens. ‘Minus three’ my weather app proclaimed, but the sky was blue and cloudless. ‘Top down’ I thought as I prepared for John’s Wombat Wandering Picnic Run.

Thirty odd kilometres later as I pulled into the meeting point the day had warmed to a balmy two degrees, but I was toasty warm; heated seat on, heater tuned to a pleasant 20 degrees, soaking up the vitamin D.

A motley crew of five had gathered in five cars, ready for the Tharwa-Uriarra leg of the run. This is a delightful road, leaving Canberra’s southern-most suburbs, passing through the little village of Tharwa, on our way past Tidbinbilla and the Cotter, then a hard left to Uriarra Road. The recent rains had planted a few new potholes to trick the unwary and swept loose gravel across several of the corners, just to keep us on our toes. But the road itself is in good condition and runs through a picturesque landscape. Good MX driving, although that was clearly not on the mind of the bloke on the tractor that felt it necessary to hold up our five cars and another couple of sightseers for several kilometres. But try as he might, he would have to do more than that to dampen our good spirits.

As we rounded the bend into Uriarra Crossing Reserve, we could see another two cars, their drivers quietly chatting while they waited for us to arrive. A brief stop, a quick outline of the route ahead and we were on our way again—Fairlight Road, Mountain Creek Road and Wee Jasper Road on to Yass. These roads a real treat—quiet country roads with little traffic other than our convoy of seven. There are straights, hills, curves and bends to delight and (if that’s not enough) gorgeous scenery—green hills, thick bushland, country-charm farms. You are bound to hear more about this part of the run—it has become a bit of a favourite.

Although the sun was out and the sky was bright, there was an appreciable drop in temperature as we approached Taemas Bridge, spanning the nicely flowing Murrumbidgee River, and the fog rolled in. Not so thick that it slowed us down any more than the twisty bit of road out of the valley demanded, it added a certain ‘charm’ to the run. All too quickly we were in Yass for a quick stop to recaffeinate, being carefull to responsibly maintain our physical distance while we waited outside the café for the coffees (and cakes) to arrive.

Recharged, we were off on a cunningly planned series of turns and twists to Murrumburrah/Harden where we intended to pick up our picnic supplies. John had this part of the run well planned—the Burley Griffin Way through Binalong and then, just as we expected to go straight past the Galong turnoff, we chucked a leftie and zig zagged our way along Bouyeo Road into Harden. Early canola graced the fields, but we hardly noticed as we concentrated on the narrow country lanes. The ‘Big Dipper’ took a few by surprise—the road rises slightly to a crest and then drops down steeply, almost immediately, to cross a narrow bridge and head back up the next hill. It can be … exhilarating.

Picnic supplies were picked up at the bakery, if you call pies and sausage rolls picnic supplies. We obviously do, and so armed we headed to a nice open area to sit on a few logs, chow down and rest in the sun.

Some chose to return home from the picnic stop, others continued the few kilometres to Wallendbeen, then on to Wombat. The pub seemed to be doing good business, but we stopped only long enough to take a photo and hit the road to home. We took the Burley Griffin Way back to the Hume Highway and straight through to Canberra. It was a pleasant, top down cruise, the driving songs playlist turned up to 11, interrupted only very briefly by a nice policeman who asked me if I could please count to five and sent me merrily on my way.

This was one of the few road trips we’ve been able to do as a Club run since early April (it seems longer), and it felt very good to be out again, wind in my hair (well, my eyebrows anyway), the hum of the motor, the blat of the exhaust, the enjoyment of being in my favourite car touring with a great bunch of people. Yep. Very good indeed.

Words and photos: Rod Nicholas