Monday, March 25, 2013

Country revival

I might be a city boy born and raised, and a long-term denizen of the inner-city if the truth be told, but the occasional weekend of country-style fresh air, sunshine and wide open spaces is as important to my continued sanity as being with my darling girl, Pammy, almost all the time. 

Almost? Yep, left her behind in the Big Smoke (she was off to the Sydney Opera House for a big Sing-Sing anyway) and I headed down south, and up into the hills, to visit my old mate Fraser at his lovely property close to the charming, historic and steadily reviving town of Taralga, on NSW's Southern Tablelands, pop. 312.

If you're in Australia and you're talking authentic
country style you'll be needing everything pictured
here: a beautiful gum tree, corrugated steel, rust,
weathered timbers, a slight dip in a roofline if you
can manage that, and a covering of lush green grass.
No, wait, I made up that bit about lush green grass.
Sometimes things get a bit dusty here in Australia,
but it has been raining this summer in Taralga,
the dam's full, the grass is growing, and the sheep,
the cattle and the horses are all fat. A good year.

You simply cannot build a heritage-listed
clothesline like this. It takes years for it to
happen, for the timbers to go grey, the lines
to sag wonkily, and the posts to lean over a bit.

Somewhere on the front of the old stone house there's a sign
saying 'Rose Cottage' and they have some very old established
rose bushes and climbers to prove it.

Right now you could rename the joint 'Anemone
Madness' and no-one would disagree, but of
course that's not as nice as Rose Cottage, is it?

Fraser's neighbour, Ken, is living the retiree's dream. He has a
few acres to play with and has lots of fruit trees and a very well
tended vegie patch too (and some of the crops make their way
over the fence to Fraser, more on that in a moment). One thing
I liked about Ken's orchard was the simple way he built his
bird-exclusion nets. Taralga is home to zillions of rosellas and
magpies, plus all sorts of itinerant cockatoos, galahs and other
airborne eating machines, so if you want to keep your crops
of fruit intact, you'll need netting. Ken creates a simple frame
for the nets by bending two very long pieces of flexible black
plastic irrigation piping (poly pipes) over the top of the
tree in a big U shape. Only two pipes are needed to make
a frame, and the net goes over. Works a treat, too.

Now, sorry to all the vegoes out there for the bacon, but it is
locally cured stuff from the butcher at the nearby big town
of Crookwell, and it tasted just like bacon should: really bacony!
Fraser's a dab hand in the kitchen, so I just bludged all weekend
(and every country town has its resident bludger, of course)
and he cooked up dinner, breakfast and more dinner. His tomato
and cheese omelette was made from eggs supplied by Ken's
chooks (thank you ladies) and the flavour boost from Ken's

super-flavoursome home-grown tomatoes and some freshly
snipped chives. The toast on the side was from the local bakery.
I tried to earn my keep this weekend by helping out in the garden then drinking his beer later on, but the real hero of the weekend, apart from my great host himself, was Huey the weather God. Taralga can be chilly (stop laughing all you Taralga-ites). Oh, all right then, Taralga is often very cold indeed. If Huey had decided to send us cold southerly winds, a bit of rain and lots of cloud, the slow-combustion fire would have been raging all weekend. Instead, it was T-shirt weather all the way. Superb.

And so I'm back with my lovely girl Pammy now in our pretty little inner-city cubby house, which is the natural order of things. But after a weekend in the country I feel like I've blown a whole ceiling full of cobwebs out of my head. Taralga, you've done it again!


Caro Webster said...

Love this post! Next time you're heading to your mate at Taralga you must let me know. Our farm is on the other side of Crookwell (closer to Bigga). God's own. x

Jamie said...

OK Caro, I'll remember that! I got part-way there to your place on Sunday, trundling down a few dirt roads purely to have a (light) beer at the Laggan Pub. You're right about the God's own bit, too. Wasn't the weather perfect last weekend, and the countryside looked a perfect picture.

Alex Krasovskis said...

Love the washing line