The girly road trip has been in the pipeline for a while, ever since my friend Lucy & I put our heads together to plot a day trip for her mum’s visit from the frozen UK.
We picked a stinking hot day to drive to a hot country town in NSW for our adventure, just to make sure Ann got an authentic Australian experience, and an opportunity to thaw out.
Here they are: three generations, ready for adventure.
Only Lucy & I knew the destination (and even we weren’t 100% sure how to get there, although we knew the general direction!
Our first stop was the lovely town of Harden for coffee, then, inevitably, a wee at Wallendbeen. Back in the car again, we headed through Cootamundra to Junee, with Jenna earbashing us all the way. I swear that girl could talk underwater!
At the Golden Grove licorice & chocolate factory at Junee, we signed up for the Freckle-making tour. A freckle is a chocolate disc coated with hundreds and thousands, and full of about a million calories. Yum. They made us wear these incredibly glamorous hairnets in the freckle-making room, coz after all, nobody wants a hairy freckle. (I can’t believe I said that!)
Jenna, multi-tasking: pouring chocolate, licking fingers AND talking!
Freckles duly made, and hardening in the coolroom, Jenna was quiet while we listened to the talk where they explain the history of the factory, and played a game called licorice bowling. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… This is how is works (in theory):
You chuck a big lump of hard licorice up into the top of a flour bag chute and see how many skittles it knocks over when it comes out the bottom, and you make a proper goose of yourself by trying to catch the skittles as they fly out the bottom. Perfectly sane grown-ups engage in this embarrassing pursuit, in the quest for a free bag of licorice. Ann had a lovely time chucking the licorice ball up in the air, again and again, over-arm, under-arm, sending it everywhere except where it was supposed to go. We did not win the bag of licorice.
Onwards and upwards, Jenna talked all the way to Junee’s other main tourist attraction – Monte Cristo, Australia’s most haunted homestead.
Even during daylight (I suppose ghosts don’t sleep) this beautifully restored home has spots that make the hairs on the back of your neck prickle. The temperature had nudged up past 30C by this time, proving that ghosts aren’t affected by the heat either.
Jenna was still talking, so we went back into town for lunch to find a sandwich. Opposite the RSL there’s an Historical Society café/museum, which was air-conditioned and perfect. The grown-ups finally got a word in while Jenna ate her toasted sandwich.
The whole trip was a big loop, nearly 500kms long, and the return drive took us along some picturesque country roads, through the tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Nangus and into Gundagai, where of course we had to visit that Aussie icon, the dog on the tuckerbox.
Jenna dozed off for about twenty silent seconds, then woke up and resumed her chatter. We had realised by this time that as long as she was awake, she would never stop talking, so we adopted the ‘if you can’t beat em, join em’ approach. The silliest game of ‘I Spy’ followed, (Lucy – KNEES does not begin with an ‘N’!) and brought us almost all the way back to Canberra, laughing our heads off.
A glass of chilled white wine awaited us back at my house, then Ann and Lucy took chatterbox Jenna home, and I sat in my silent house, blinds down to keep out the baking evening sun. What a great day - thanks, ladies!