Bungonia Double Loop

19 October 2020 / Words and Photos by Rod Nicholas

17 October 2020
The weather forecast was not looking promising. Almost certain rain, maybe heavy at times, possible thunderstorm. ‘Oh, goody’ I mumbled as I made my first coffee for the day, ‘just what we want for a run’.

But by the time I’d got the car out of the garage, the sky was not so bleak. I was humming Here Comes the Sun as we motored our way to the start point in Bungendore. We left early enough to grab another coffee at a lovely little café (The Gathering - well worth dropping in) and sauntered up to the car park. Barely minutes later I had 18 of the registered twenty participants gathering around for the pre-run briefing, all eager to jump in the cars, drop the lid and set out on the road. Our last two participants would join us later in Tarago, having already travelled 120 km just to take part.

The day was warming, and the traffic was minimal – no one interrupted our snaking line of cars – as we zoomed (at legal speeds) through the countryside, roof down, warm wind blowing through our hair, listening to the hum of the exhaust; just enjoying the ride. The countryside was looking good. Recent rains had greened the paddocks and patches of attractive Salvation Jane (Patterson’s Curse to non-apiarists) and canola brightened the vista.

Our final car joined us as we trundled through Tarago and now we were eleven. The last 25 km before we reached Bungonia was speed signed at 80 kph, probably because there are a few one-way bridges to cross and plenty of ‘hidden’ driveways into properties. It’s a pity because the road is sound and for much of it fairly recently upgraded. But we were good little boys and girls and took it easy as we enjoyed the day.

There’s not much in Bungonia. According to the ever-reliable internet ‘Bungonia is a tiny town made notable only by the presence of the oldest Roman Catholic church in Australia and the beautiful Bungonia State Recreation Area’ (https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/bungonia-nsw). We didn’t attempt to explore the reserve but stopped for a while by the church to take a few pictures and have a chat. Even if it is the oldest RC church in Australia, it is quite small, perhaps as befitting its humble development and location, and the external appearance is decidedly plain. Even so, it took eight years to complete it after a couple of ex-convicts started work on it in 1839. Unfortunately, it was not open, although a peek inside was possible through the rear window. It is not clear whether it is still in use, but if so, I expect it has but a few parishioners.

We left Bungonia in sunshine and headed on to Goulburn along the lovely Mountain Ash Road, a quick 25 km away. We noticed a surprisingly large number of farms and properties along the way, a few bright with canola fields. Entering the outskirts of Australia’s first inland city, we chucked a hard right and ascended a narrow road to the landmark Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum, perched high above the city. As Run Leaders we had the ‘delight’ of spooking a couple of kangaroos, one of which seemed intent on joining my wife in the passenger seat. Between the roos and the local in the tradies ute who clearly believed he owned the whole road and pushed several of us off into the verge, I was almost surprised we made it to the top intact. But we did, and with just enough room for us in the carpark, we took in the sights from the top of the Tower and wandered through the museum. The visit was a first for many of our group. It is a genuinely interesting and worthwhile stop if you are in town.

I thought we might be talked out by the time we left Rocky Hill and made our short way into Belmore Park for a picnic. I was wrong. There was plenty to talk about in the lovely grounds of the park, with its mini floriade to dazzle the eyes. We gave local café Roses a decent work out with our takeaway orders for coffee and lunch.

With the threat of rain (according to our Bureau of Meteorology), I issued starter’s orders and was immediately ignored. the Chief Ignorers finished their chat and eventually we were underway. The return route was back to Bungendore along a couple of different roads, all intended to create an untidy figure-eight on the map (hence the ‘double loop’), although a few decided to take the short cut straight back to Canberra along the highway. The threatened rain hardly eventuated (you could almost count the spots on the windscreen) but nevertheless several of us had weakened and put the top up. (I received later report that at least one car got home, topless and dry.) Strangely enough, many of the group regathered at Bungendore for more coffee, a spot of shopping and another round or two of solving all the problems of the world. (We’re going to need a few more runs if we are going to get them all solved!)

All up, we clocked up around 190 km from the official start to finish, and had a damn good time doing it.

Thanks all for joining us - Rod & Maryanne Nicholas (Run Leaders)

Some more of Rod's photos can be found at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/nDYPx6W3ma7nLf8h8