Parton / In praise of tiny towns

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Bundanoon railway station. Photo by Mark Parton
Bundanoon railway station. Photo by Mark Parton
IN my 16 years in Canberra I would have driven to Sydney on at least 50 occasions. I know every bend on the highway. I know exactly where the petrol stops and the fast-food outlets are.

At any point on the way back I can tell you with some degree of accuracy how long before we hit Goulburn and what time we’ll get home.

Aside from a couple of little jaunts through Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale, I’d pretty much never been off the highway. Despite driving past the signs for Wingello, Bundanoon, Picton, Yerrinbool and Bargo a hundred times, I’d never set foot in those places.

That finally changed this month.

Luisa and I had a weekend escape to Picton.

We stayed in a gorgeous little bed and breakfast high on a hill with views of the rolling countryside. It was bliss.

It was wonderful to get away from pressures of work and home, but almost as good to discover all of these little townships for the first time.

We went to the Sunday morning markets in Picton and met so many wonderful people. We bought some Argentinian delicacies, a tiramisu and some indoor plants. We had dozens of conversations with the innovative, creative stallholders. I want to go back to Picton markets soon.

After the markets we pushed back through Tahmoor and Bargo and then across to Mittagong and Bowral. We did the lookout at Bowral on a blue-sky Sunday. Then off to Exeter and Bundanoon.

What a gorgeous little town is Bundanoon? Loved the little railway station and the quaint main street. We had bruschetta and scones at the Terrace (I know it sounds like a weird combo, but it worked for us).

We really do miss out on those little towns, but I couldn’t help but think how long the trip to Sydney must have taken back in the days before the freeway. It must have been a five-hour car trip from city to city.

These days we’re all about speed – broadband internet, instant bank transfers and email on your phone – aren’t we. In our rush to get as many things done in the shortest possible time, sometimes we miss out on some hidden gems along the way.

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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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