Words and Photos By Paul Hollingworth.
Those of you who regularly read Cruise Control, or the Newsfeed on our website, will know that I love a weekend away – especially if someone else organises it! Having just returned from Motafrenz’ 2023 Easter weekend away, I am inspired to tell you all about it.
Our base for the weekend would be in Lavington, a suburb of Albury, New South Wales. Now, we didn’t want to penetrate too deep into that state for various reasons (not least the appalling condition of their roads, and also to make a funny joke headline for this article).
Travelling with me would be Gordon and Chris, in Gordon’s Volvo. At the event’s starting point, Bunning’s in Craigieburn, we would pick up Peter, Lachlan, and Phil. Normally Bunning’s is a great place to meet due to its large car park, toilets, and cafe, but on Good Friday all was closed except the car park – lucky for us, Gordon brought his Thermos and some biscuits. As we were all feeling a little cold, we decided to head to our first stop, BP Euroa (outbound) for coffee, a wee, and some morning tea. Unfortunately, it seemed we were not alone in this plan – the place was packed to the rafters! It was fortunate we had no one in our group needed the female toilets as the queue was exceptionally long.
A little further north we travelled, on to our lunch spot at Sam Miranda Winery in Oxley. This is a venue we visited last year (when the weather was nicer). This year, the wind and rain made outside dining undesirable, so we ate undercover. Of all the days of the year, Good Friday is the only one where I will go out of my way to eat meat, and I really should say, my steak sandwich was one of the best I have ever eaten. Being uninspired by the weather, we decided to skip the planned wine tasting at a nearby winery and head straight into Albury. The weather started to ease soon after crossing the border so, after checking-in, a few of us decided to head into the centre of Albury for a self guided history tour that Gordon had printed from the internet. Having been through Albury many times, I was surprised at how beautiful the place is once you take the time to stop and look. For dinner we just ordered from Menulog.
On the Saturday we were joined by local members Jared and Suf and headed off first to Morgan’s Lookout – a rocky formation located on high ground surrounded by kilometers of fields, and named after a local bushranger. As lookouts go, this one was really quite good. From here we were to drive to Wagga Wagga via the rail museum at Ladysmith, to find the museum to be a closed station surrounded by sundry pieces of crap. We did get a few good pictures from here though, and some more of Gordon’s biscuits.
Arriving at Wagga Wagga, we made an unscheduled, but most enjoyable, stop of the heritage centre at RAAF WAGGA. The heritage centre is located in the old guardhouse which is now outside of the base, and has a great display of aircraft, memorabilia and local air force history. It also had a toilet which, in my advancing years, I found of great use. Then we headed off to lunch at the Thurst Crow Brewery. We were supposed to have beer sampling here, but after they gave our reserved table to someone else and we waited for what seemed like a year for our food, we ditched the sampling and followed Jared and Suf on a scenic return drive to Albury via the Hume Dam. The Hume dam, I believe, is still one of the largest dams in the world, and when expanded in the 1950s, caused the need to relocate the town of Tallangatta (which we visited on Monday).
As it was getting late, we all returned to our rooms to freshen up before heading out to the much awarded Indan Tandoori Restaurant in Albury. I don’t know if we just arrived on a bad day, or if country standards are hugely different to Melbourne standards, but I felt the food wasn’t so good – and certainly not good enough to justify the appalling service. We actually waited an-hour-and-a-quarter between the time they removed the plates from the first course to the time the first dish of the second course was bought out (I may have been getting a little hangry, lol). Starting dinner at 7 o’clock, we were back at the motel later than 10 o’clock. At least we all slept well that night.
We were again joined by Suf and Jarad on Sunday. This time, they took us for a scenic drive through the (surprisingly large) suburbs of Albury to the war memorial atop Monument Hill. This, in my opinion, is one the the greatest war memorials in rural Australia, and can be seen clearly day and night from the city below. Next was a leisurely drive out to the old Byramine Homestead to view the heritage listed house and to have an overpriced lunch. Don’t worry though, the service was fast, and the house tour included beer sampling at the end! The day was finished off with a visit to the Yarrawonga-Mulwala Pioneer Museum – which was really just a few rooms filled with old shite (much like my own house, lol) – and a sneeky spa and sauna at the motel for Gordon and me.
The sign at the sauna recommended going in nude – I took that advice only to surprise a mid-teen boy and his mum who had just popped in. Dinner that night was at the Hovell Bar and Grill where the steaks, cocktails, desserts, and company were delightful. Another local member, Steve, joined us, making the total of nine members who took part in some activity during the weekend.
The final day, Monday, saw, as most final days do, the dropping off of many members who had other people to visit on the way home, or who lived outside of Melbourne, and I was again left with my core group of Chris and Gordon in Gordon’s Volvo. This didn’t stop our adventures though. We went to visit the Tallangatta Lookout (which was well build, but not as interesting as Morgan’s lookout), and then a quick visit to Tallangatta town centre, and foreshore. Such a delightful town of older, well preserved, wooden buildings, and ‘modern’ mid-century brick structures – sadly, I forgot to take pictures, you’ll just have to go there yourself, I guess.
Then the final stop Yakandandah, birthplace of our first Australian-born Governer-General. Here I bought an old “shoe seat” to put near my door for putting my shoes on before leaving the house, and a large takehome box of Gum Tree Pies (the shop is called Gum Tree, the pies aren’t actually made from gum trees). The only other stops were for old-man-wees.
All in all, a fabulous weekend, and I thank event organisers Russell and Gordon, and the the Event Leader Gordon for all your hard work and gentle guidance. I thank all of you who came along and the made the weekend such a success – I hope to see you all again soon.
For everyone else, please consider coming away for a weekend with Motafrenz; you are sure to have a good time! The next planned weekend away is the Cup Weekend trip to Adelaide, see https://motafrenz.org.au/event/adelaide-annual-motafrenz-interstate-weekend-away/. Book early – this is the follow-up event to last year’s fantastic weekend away in Canberra.