After six days of free camping at Bethungra Dam we were getting low on water so we thought we would head into Wagga Wagga for a couple of days. On a whim I decided to jump on WikiCamps and see what else was around the area and I came across Coolamon Caravan Park. The reviews were good, pics looked good and at $20.00 a night the price was right as well. So the decision was made and we headed to Coolamon.
Coolamon is located about 40 kilometres north of the rural city of Wagga Wagga. It is a small town with a population of around 2200 people, so not big at all but most definitely a spot worthy of a visit.
COOLAMON CARAVAN PARK
When we pulled into the caravan park at Coolamon we thought we had found a little green oasis. After several weeks of dry, brown grass it was lovely to see lots of green grass. The sites are large and level and there are a number of drive-through sites in the centre or reverse in sites along the fence line.
The park was revamped a couple of years ago and now has on-site caretakers who were both friendly and helpful. There is a very clean and tidy amenities block, new, large camp kitchen, laundry and an easily accessible disabled bathroom.
But perhaps the best thing about Coolamon Caravan Park is its location. Around a 50 metre walk out of the park is the local IGA Supermarket. It was very well stocked with reasonable prices as well. Just out the back gate is the local swimming pool which is also managed by the park managers. If you are staying in the caravan park you can swim all day for just $1.00. What a bargain especially if you have kids. Adjacent to the pool is a skate park on one side and a large playground with new play equipment on the other side.
It is also just a short walk to Coolamon’s main street where you will find a selection of interesting shops.
AROUND THE TOWN
I absolutely loved the time we spent in Coolamon. Each day I found something different to do and everyone was so friendly. I found a couple of excellent coffee shops (of course) and plenty of other shops to browse in.
Coolamon Cheese is located in a beautifully refurbished 1920’s co-op building. With high ceilings and industrial style lighting it is a fantastic space. The front of the building is utilised as a restaurant and coffee shop, with the rear of the building being a modern cheese-making facility.
Factory tours and workshops are available or customers are free to view the cheese-making process through the large windows. There are a variety of cheeses available for tasting and purchase. They were all delicious and it was a hard choice but I settled on the Alpine Pepper.
I also treated myself to breakfast whilst I was there. The menu is small but everything on it was very tempting. I chose the Waffle with Berries and Ice Cream, which was just so good!
LITTLE RUSTIC PANTRY
I had walked past the entrance to Little Rustic Pantry a couple of times, but as it was closed I didn’t take a lot of notice. But when I did find it open and decided to go in I discovered a real hidden gem.
Part coffee shop and part gift shop, Little Rustic Pantry is housed in an old shed that perfectly fits its name. They had a lovely selection of sweet treats and excellent coffee plus a lovely selection of gift wear. They are open Thursdays to Sundays and are definitely worth visiting.
WELL READ BOOK SHOP
I do love a good book so I did spend a bit of time here browsing their extensive selection of good quality second-hand books. They also have a small display of second-hand items that are all beautifully displayed around the store. The window displays were Christmas themed as well.
Owner Wendy is very friendly and happy to help you find a book or two to add to your collection.
UP TO DATE STORE
On the surface, the Up To Date Store hasn’t changed much since it was built in 1909. As a country general store it sold everything from building materials to silk stockings.
These days it is a multi-use centre and had the photographic entrants in the Capture Coolamon Shire Photo Competition on display when I was there. Also on permanent display in the store is the Mavis Furner Collection. This is a collection of over 200 crocheted items made over a lifetime by local identity Mavis Furner. From day dresses to ball gowns this is an outstanding collection the likes of which I had never seen before.
An interesting feature of the store is the still-intact and working ‘cash railway’. A system that was used for sending cash from the front counter to the office and vice versa. Entry to the Up to Date Store is via gold coin donation.
COOLAMON FIRE MUSEUM
The Coolamon Fire Museum is home to an extensive collection of fire related memorabilia collected over the last 30 years by former local fire officer Chris Berry and his wife Joanne.
There are uniforms, miniature fire trucks, fire fighting equipment and much more. It’s a fascinating display and one well worth checking out. Entry is via gold coin donation.
THE REST OF THE TOWN
If you like historic buildings then there are a few of those around town that will interest you including the Coolamon Railway Station, the Coolamon Convent in Bruce Street and in the main street the former Bank of NSW, now a B & B is a lovely building.
The Coolamon RSL Museum is also worth checking out. Ask at the Fire Station if you would like it open!
The wide main street has a large green space running through its middle which includes the local Cenotaph and shady picnic tables.
There are two local pubs and a Sports Club all of which have meals available at various times.
THE SURROUNDING AREA
The town of Junee is just a short half-hour drive away and is another great spot to explore. We only stopped on our way through to Coolamon to visit the Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory. But it was a very worthwhile stop over. Housed in an old flour mill with a coffee shop, restaurant and factory inside and a lovely outdoor area this is one of my favourite places that we have been to do date.
We did the factory tour which only costs $5.00 for adults or $3.00 for kids over five. During the tour we got a rundown on how licorice is made and how they process the chocolate coated products. We also got to try some different kinds of licorice products as well. You can see the whole process going on behind large glass windows.
Then of course there is the gift shop! Yum! Best value was the large bag of ‘seconds’ for $14.00. It had a mix of everything in it and lasted us a few days!
Ganmain is a tiny town located between Coolamon and Narrandera. We stopped and enjoyed breakfast from the Ganmain Bakery and then had a walk around town. Another older town, it has a lovely looking old pub and a few shops to browse in.
There is a large park as you come into town from Coolamon with room to park with a van on. There were very clean public toilets there, picnic tables and a good kids play-ground. Low cost camping is available at the Showground if you are passing through and looking for somewhere to stay. You will also find this great mural depicting the early days of cropping in the area.
If you’ve ever heard of the Facebook group Country Pub Camping then you will probably have heard of the Grong Grong Hotel or The Grongy as it is affectionately known.
We would loved to have stayed at their free camp at the back of the pub but didn’t have time on this occasion. However, we did stop for a chat with owner Kay who after 27 years will hand the reigns over to new owners in January. Let’s hope they keep the free camp going and that lots more travellers get to experience some country pub hospitality.
We would highly recommend putting Coolamon on your list of places to visit in NSW. It’s such a great little town and definitely a good spot to stop and relax for a couple of days.