Where did you live when you were a kid growing up? Do you still live in the same area or have you moved far away? For me I grew up on a farm not far from the tiny village of Binda on the Southern Tablelands of NSW. I moved away from there when I was 13. In 30 plus years I have only been back a few times. On our last trip down south I decided to take a bit of a trip down memory lane so we made a detour and visited Crookwell, Binda and Bigga.
Crookwell is a lovely small town with a population of about 2,500 people. It was first settled in the early 1800’s and gold was found nearby at Tuena and sapphires at Grabben Gullen. In the main, people are involved in farming sheep and cattle but the area is also well known for it’s potato growing.
On the outskirts of the town is the first ‘grid connected’ wind farm in Australia. There is easy access to a viewing area – especially if you are towing a van or camper. Crookwell itself boasts a few shops, as well as a couple of pubs and coffee shops. It is also home to the Lindner Sock Factory and Shop which is located in the main street. Each year on the first weekend in March Crookwell hosts the Crookwell Potato Festival which includes farm tours, cooking demonstrations and markets.
As well as the villages of Grabben Gullen and Tuena make sure you visit Laggan and Taralga as well. Taralga has a wonderful pub, which is very popular, especially on weekends. It has a great menu and a great atmosphere. There are some lovely historic buildings in village that are also worth exploring. There are camping, B & B and farm stay options through out the area as well.
WHERE TO STAY IN CROOKWELL
If you want to stay in Crookwell, there is a lovely small caravan park just off the bottom of the main street. It has 20 powered, slab sites that are easy to get into or there are grassed unpowered sites as well. These are only $18.00 a night and still give you access to the amenities block and camp kitchen, both of which were immaculately clean. Bookings and payments for the caravan park can be made at the Visitor Information Centre in the bottom of the main street. It’s an easy walk from the park to the main street. If you are looking for somewhere to have a meal I can recommend the Criterion Hotel in the middle of the main street.
Binda is located about half way between the town of Crookwell and another small village – Bigga. It is a tiny village but has an interesting history. Many bushrangers roamed the area in the 1800’s including Ben Hall and his gang. They even paid a visit to a Christmas Ball held there in 1864. Binda also has some very fine examples of buildings constructed of blue stone including St James Anglican Church where I attended church and Sunday school as a child.
Buildings that were formerly a store and post office and a mill have been fully restored and are now private residences. One has a cottage attached to it which is now a B & B and would be just lovely to stay in. If you are passing through Binda there is also a small store there. It has a reasonable supply of essential items but it is licenced so you can restock your beer supplies!
Binda also has a small free camp located behind the old tennis courts. It is mainly level and not a bad spot for an overnight stop-over. It has toilets within walking distance and is a lovely quiet spot. The grounds were a little bit untidy when we were there but it is obvious that there is some work being done around the place.
OUR FAMILY FARM
Leaving Binda we drove the 26 or so kilometres out to my parents old farm. Sold in 1980 due to my Dad’s poor health, I have many fond memories of growing up there despite being quite isolated. At just over 1300 acres, it was only a small farm. It was a Soldier Settlers Block granted to my parents in about 1958. When they took possession of it it was divided into five paddocks and had no house or sheds on it. They built everything – mostly by themselves. It is not in a great state now as no one has lived in the house for a few years and it was also very dry when we visited.
Our final stop late in the afternoon was Bigga. A tiny village nestled amongst rolling hills, it is renowned for producing some of the best fine wool this country has ever seen. Bigga is also known for being the gate way to Wyangala Dam on the Grabine side of the dam.
We enjoyed a quick beer at the local pub. It is a tiny pub with friendly staff and some interesting memorabilia on the walls from the heyday of Bigga’s fine wool production and it’s local football team.