Kelly had 5 days off, so after checking the weather patterns, we stuffed Ripley with good foods, a few beers, and ample supplies of chocolate, and set our course. West.
We departed as soon as Kelly arrived home and showered off the detritus of work. After a couple of hours of pleasantly riding the undulating hills into the setting sun, the light was fading and we could see bands of skittish kangaroos creeping closer to the highway. We decided to bail for the night.
Jugiong is a tiny village, population 300 (ish) about 122 km west (ish) of Canberra and just a quick swoop off the Hume highway.
The entrance to the town is via a lengthy ramrod road lined with poplar trees. Before the town was bypassed the temptation to lead-foot this section, combined with the excellent foliage cover made a favourite location for the police to set up radar speed traps.
In fact the town has a long history of traps. Back in the 1800’s the Sir George Tavern was a popular watering hole for passengers travelling by coach between Yass (in the north) and Gundagai (in the south). The potential for vehicles to be carrying gold, which had been found in the area made Jugiong fertile ground for bushrangers.
In one single day in 1864 the gang of Johnny Gilbert, Ben Hall and John Dunn robbed 60 people travelling the road before nabbing the mail coach and shooting a local police officer in the subsequent gunfight. There is a small memorial to the officer ( a 32 year old named Edmund Parry) located at the Jugiong show ground.
This show ground offers a spacious area for free camping (although a donation is appreciated). There are ample shady level sites amongst the trees, access to water taps, a children’s play area and a block of clean and tidy toilets.
We arrived around 7.30 PM and quickly settled in before making the short walk across the road to check out the Sir George Tavern and other shops. Although we did not eat there (no, Siree, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches from McDonalds for us) the restaurant looked fabulous with a large comfy (dare I say romantic) outdoor eating area.
So instead, we just sat down and watched the stars for a while before finally walking back to Ripley where sleep came quick and deep.
The next morning we took breakfast at Long Track Pantry just next to the tavern. The Pantry has a pretty cool homeware and local produce shop inside well worth a browse.
So, Jugiong. Yet another example of a slightly hidden destination worthy of slowing down and spending a few hours getting to know a little better.