Rural NSW is full of interesting towns within day trip distance of Canberra. My friend the Ancient Submariner (he's not really ancient at all, but I like the name!) decided the licorice/chocolate factory at Junee would be a good destination for a Sunday ride. The two magic words (licorice and chocolate) were all I needed to haul the Bomber out of the shed for a 9am start.
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Junee is a bit over 200kms from Canberra. We did a sort of loop - went there via Harden (stopped there for a cold drink) and Cootamundra, and came back via Gundagai (where we stopped for another cold drink). It's a great road from Junee to Gundagai, passing through places like Wantabadgery, Nangus and Eurongilly (where I saw a willy-willy), and with lots of bends that were a cross between twisties and sweepers - very nice!
Holy dooley it was warm! I discovered two important things - this bike cooks my legs in hot weather, (the previous two were fully faired jobbies, and I bet that made a difference) and mesh pants are crap on longish rides. It's like sitting on fly-screen. Oh my delicate petal legs! Next time I'll wear my leathers.
The licorice factory is brilliant! It's all organic, offers tours of the factory, a gift shop, a cafe (with live music on Sunday!) a factory shop, picturesque outdoor area...
Even in the heat we couldn't resist one of their hot chocolates - and it was well worth the trip!
Junee itself is an old railway town, and the buildings erected in its boom days are gorgeous - lots of long two storey buildings with iron lacework balconies. It's also the birthplace of many rugby league luminaries, and home to Australia's most haunted house, Monte Cristo - another place well worth a visit. I went there a couple of years ago, and it's seriously atmospheric!
The giant grasshoppers that bothered me out that way a few weeks ago have gone - now there's just searing heat and dryness. Carrying an extra waterbottle is a good idea. I soaked a bandanna before tying it round my neck, and poured some cold water inside the front of my jacket, for some fabulous evaporative cooling. Next time I'll remember my neck sausage.
Now there's a nifty device! It's a flat tube of fabric, just long enough to tie around your neck, and it contains some gel crystals. If you soak the tube in cold water the crystals swell up to about fourteen MILLION times their size, and you have this cool damp sausage to tie around your neck so you can keep your cool for HOURS! (It also acts as a shield for some of the flying beasties that you encounter on the road - and believe me, that's a good thing! I once found a bee embedded in it - better the neck sausage than my neck!)
By the time I got home (and we got home as fast as we could to stop the chocolate melting!) my delicious bag of chocolate coated licorice was a little the worse for wear - oh, the HEAT! - but fifteen minutes in the fridge restored it, and it was truly delicious!
I was not so easily restored, and needed several glasses of iced water, a cool shower, and afterwards, a glass of chilled white wine as I wandered around my garden , fighting off mozzies and checking my baby plants for heat damage.
It was a lovely Sunday - thanks, Ancient Submariner!