Around Australia Week 46 – Wagga Wagga and Junee

Wagga Wagga is a big, spread-out city… and a great place to catch up on all kinds of shopping! Whether it’s electronics (our neighbours Bernie and Linda decided it was time for a new laptop, and had a wide choice of outlets to buy one) or clothes; outdoor gear or a car service (yep, we did that too) or a quiet afternoon catching up on the movies – you’re pretty sure to find what you want here.

We stayed at Easts Riverside Park, which has nice big gravel sites with plenty of room for your van, annexe, and car. It’s also handy to town, with a bus to town across the road: we used that when the car was out of action for a day being serviced.

And as always, we met friendly people everywhere: Bernie (who bought the computer) and Linda; Darrell and Judith, and Henry and Debbie were all on sites close to ours, and we spent a couple of afternoons and early evenings catching up on everyone’s travels (and tall tales!)

46_01_Happy_Hour_Wagga

We decided to travel to nearby Junee for a brief outing, thinking we could just stop for lunch and then drive back. At first glance, there didn’t appear to be a lot to Junee, although it was a pleasant-looking country town. Then we decided to call in to the Ex-Services Club to see if they had a bistro.

Well, was that ever a good move! The dining room, fellow caravanners, was terrific – really good value at $8 a head, and you get this four days a week. Mondays and Tuesdays there’s a choice of two meals (one Australian, one Chinese) and on Wednesdays and Thursdays it’s a delicious Chinese smorgasbord. Two nights a week you can eat dinner there for $10 a head.

I found out all of this from Kim Anderson, who would have to be Junee’s best tourism officer, even though she’s in disguise as the Manager of Danny’s Kitchen in the club! Kim brought out handfuls of pamphlets to show us what to see in Junee: a host of parks and picnic spots, Bethungra Rail Spiral and Junee Roundhouse (a Rail and Transport Museum); Monte Christo (a historic homestead that is reputed to be haunted… we challenge you to spot a ghost); the Junee Historical Museum and the Licorice and Chocolate Factory… and more!

Before long Jim Wallace, the Secretary Manager, was there joining the party – with the Kim and Jim show, there was no way we were going to flee Junee without seeing the sights. As she waved us off, telling us not to miss seeing their four-star caravan park, Kim assured us that “Junee is Wagga’s best tourist attraction!” Well, we’re not quite sure what Wagga locals would think of that claim, but she is very persuasive.

So off we went to check out the caravan park before making our way to the licorice and chocolate factory. (Now, you didn’t think I was going to go back to the caravan without a chocolate fix, did you???)

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The caravan park was a delight, and so were the owners, Peter and Faye Mansell, who are justly proud of their efforts. Peter says that when they took it over 12 years ago, it had a terrible reputation. They set about changing things, and now it’s a credit to the town. Beautiful deep, grassy sites; a spotless (and attractively painted) amenities block with big showers, shower curtains, complimentary bathmats and a baby bathroom that could be a feature in a show home. (Peter says that the baby bath is Faye’s pride and joy.)

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It took four years of hard work before the word got around that Junee was the place to stay, and Peter has seen the average nights’ stay rise from 1.2 to 3.9. No wonder this place has won tourism awards… oh, and did we mention that it’s pet-friendly? Read all about it here: http://juneecaravanpark.com.au

While we were there we spotted a group of happy caravanners enjoying a social hour next to the water. So… hello to Rick, Narelle, Jim, Gary and Elaine. It was great to meet you all!

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We went from the caravan park to the licorice and chocolate factory, where we did the tour and found out all about how to make licorice. The tour is good value at $4 per adult and $2.50 per child, and you can browse the gift shop upstairs as well as the choccy and licorice shop below.

Then it was on to the Junee Roundhouse, the rail and transport museum ($6 admission, or $4 concession). Rob was keen to see this because he has a family interest: his father used to drive trains.

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All in all, this is a lovely little spot. Recommended for a stopover for a night or three on your way – or longer, if you want to kick back and relax in a very comfortable park. (Oh, and a footnote… Kim from the club told us that caravan clubs like to stay at the Junee Tourist Park, and they have often hosted breakfast or lunches/dinners for the whole group. Does that get you thinking…???)

We celebrated our last night in Wagga Wagga by going for a meal at their Ex-Services Club – we decided to test them out against Junee after a fellow caravanner told us we had to go and try their smorgasbord. He was right: another tasty treat: they have an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord every night of the week at $19 for non-members. Good Saturday night fare.

And now, it’s on to Canberra. What does the Nation’s Capital hold for us???


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