Around Australia Week 48 – Thredbo, Jindabyne, Cooma

We’ve often heard other travellers comment that the Snowy area is lovely in every season, so we were happy that our journey took us this way to explore in Autumn. The Express chairlift was a no-brainer: we knew this had to be part of the plan!

This has footrests and a safety bar that lowers in front of passengers, and for quite a bit of the way is not all that far above the ground (good for those who don’t like heights). However, I must warn you that the first part of the lift when you’re coming back down (just leaving the restaurant area) can be a bit alarming – you seem to be suspended at a great height. It didn’t worry Rob, of course, but I closed my eyes for a few moments! (One of our cameramen told us that his wife always screams at this bit… that made me feel better.)

As you ride up and down there’s plenty to see: there’s the general terrain and mountain backdrop; Thredbo resort below; the snow-making machines and the mountain bike riding track. You’ll probably also have some mountain bikers as fellow passengers. They sit nonchalantly on the seat with their bikes on their laps to ride to the top.

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Visitors can choose to have guided tours at the top of the chairlift, with a ranger who is very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and weather conditions all year round. There are walks of differing lengths available (guided and self-guided); some more challenging than others. But be warned: weather conditions can change quickly at any time of year, so it’s wise to take a backpack with a bright, weatherproof jacket, water and snacks.

While we were at Jindabyne, we met a whole bunch of keen Avanners, who were there on a Tag-A-Long Tour. Our cameramen were very interested in some of the renovations they’d done to their vans – I think you’ll see a couple of them featured on the DVD! The group was having a ball, and looking forward to the other destinations on their tour before they went back home.

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From Jindabyne we drove to Cooma, where we visited Miss Heidi’s Austrian Teahouse. We really enjoyed this: not just because of the mouth-watering apple strudel (which as you might expect is a speciality of the house) but also because it was fascinating hearing Heidi’s story about how they came to start up the teahouse. Their vision originally included a fairytale park, with the teahouse attached so parents could enjoy a cuppa and strudel after walking with their kids through the park. Heidi and her husband Wolfgang worked hard to build the log cabin for the teahouse (beautiful wooden floors, log walls and hand-crafted furniture). The park featured a Gingerbread house, Snow White and her cottage, and all kinds of unique fairytale characters – many of which were imported.

Unfortunately one night vandals wrecked the park and the statues, and Heidi and Wolfgang couldn’t afford to restore it. The faded statues and fairytale cottages are still there amongst the trees, a testament to what used to be… but the teahouse itself is a Cooma icon, and very popular.

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There was a lot more to see in Cooma, and we spent some time wandering around checking it all out: the Cooma-Monaro mosaic Time Walk; the Avenue of Flags; the heritage Railway station (with train rides on weekends); the Crime Through Time Museum next to the courthouse, with tours conducted by trusted inmates from the nearby prison; the Lambie Town Walk (historical buildings) and for those interested in classic cars, a huge wreckers yard for those hard-to-find parts.

Then it was time to move on from Cooma to Batemans Bay – a town in which Rob and I have enjoyed staying before. There are several caravan parks in Batemans Bay, and it’s a lovely peaceful spot to spend a few days or weeks, depending on how much time you have available! We revisited our favourite fish ‘n’ chip shop on the waterfront and ate them while we gazed at the water, enjoying the salty breeze and thinking how nice it was to be back on the South Coast of NSW… almost home! Now that we’ve seen a lot more of Australia, we appreciate our home turf even more… we really do live in a lovely part of the country.

There were plenty of other caravanners enjoying a holiday at Batemans Bay. Amongst them were Angela and Bruno (Angela sportingly let us take a photo of her in her turban on the way back from a shower at the amenities block!), Val & Mark Cocks, and John & Judy Whale, who were especially keen to see inside our Crusader van. Why? Because they were busily filling in a spreadsheet about van specs ready to buy a new van… and based on the list of what they wanted in a van, the Crusader had come out on top!

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While we were in the area, we did a day trip from Batemans Bay down to Central Tilba, calling in to see the handiwork of blind craftsman Paul Blinman at Bodalla. Paul is unstoppable: after having a battery exploding in his face many years ago and blinding him, he simply adapted to what he could do – and you can see the results in his front yard. Paul creates wooden wishing wells, bridges, and wheelbarrows for gardens (although he tells us that the wishing wells often find their way to cash-instead-of-a-present weddings these days!)

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Central Tilba is a great spot to spend a few hours, and very popular with caravanners. In fact, a couple of caravanners, Ken & Linda Jamieson, actually own the Bates Emporium and the adjoining B&B. When we called in, they had just sold the caravan that they’d travelled in for years and bought a camper-trailer for Ken’s Can-Am Spyder. (Looking after the Emporium and B&B doesn’t permit much time for travelling, so this seemed like a good solution for now. Later, Ken & Linda plan to buy a motorhome… by which time they’ll have tried three very different setups!)

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We finished up this leg of the trip at Huskisson, at Jervis Bay. Our site at the White Sands park gave us beautiful views of the ocean, Huskisson Beach, and the popular walking track that passes by the park and winds into Huskisson township, only 10 minutes away. At White Sands we met up again with Val and Mark Cocks, whom we first met at Batemans Bay… so we celebrated by going out with them to dinner at the Husky Ex Services Club Bistro.

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Our trip is almost over. Next week… we go home.


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