We moved on to McNamara Park at Broke. It is a massive bush park. We weaved our way though the trees to park up. There were signs on the larger trees telling people not to park under them as they may drop a limb. We headed the warning and parked next to smaller trees without signs. As we were having a heat wave the shade was a welcome relief for us. We had big plans to drive around the town and area but we discovered ants had taken up residence in the van while we had stayed with my brother. We had seen a few walking around and thought that was it. What a surprise when we discovered the nest. By the time we had taken everything out of every cupboard and wiped everything over, it was too late to go for a drive. That night I have dreams of ants walking all over me. Not nice. We thought about staying for another night but we decided to move on.
Our next stop was at Wollombi Tavern. They open up the back paddock for one and all. When we first pulled into the town we drove past the tavern. That meant we would have to travel further down to road until we found a spot to turn or to back the van back down the road so then we could turn into the camping area. Not knowing how far down the road we would have to travel we decided to back. Not the easiest thing to do. Several people were sitting outside of the pub watching me. It seemed I was going to be their entertainment for the day. The pressure was on. While I slowly backed the van Adrian was in the middle of the road giving me directions and any traffic that came along. Adrian and I had some chosen words to each other before the job was done but in the end I did think I did a good job.
The area wasn’t flat so we parked up and then took a walk around the area trying to find the best spot. We were the only ones there so we had our pick. Even though the area wasn’t flat it is a lovely bush camp. You get to use the facilities of the pub. Always an added bonus.
The name for the town means ‘a meeting of water and of people.” The area was settled around 1820 and by 1850 Wollombi Valley was the largest wheat growing area in the colony. Much of the work was done by convicts. For a large number of convicts their 7 years sentence was reduced to 4 years with the remaining 3 years having restrictions under a ticket of leave giving them an amount of freedom. Convicts also built ‘The Great North Roads’ linking the area to Sydney.
What else is Wollombi know for? It is said Yellow Billy hid in a cave near the town. I had never heard of Yellow Billy so had to look him up. Not much is known about the bushranger, his real name was William White. He received his bushranger name because of his mixed blood. In 1863 he was sentenced to two years gaol for stealing a horse from Wollombi lockup and from robbing cash from the Court House. (Is that like stealing a police car from out side of a cop shop?) After he was released he continued his bushranger ways giving the police a lot of trouble. It was embarrassing for the local police, as they didn’t catch him until 1867 even thought a £50 reward was offered. It was said after his capture the ‘local people could now sleep contented in their beds at night.’ He was then given a 20 year sentence.
We took a walk around the town. It didn’t take us long and it really is only one short street. The local courthouse was turned into a museum in 1970 but unfortunately for us it was closed.
We had a look at the St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church instead. Building of the church started in 1840 and by 1843 the first service was held even though the church didn’t have any doors or windows. The church was moved and rebuilt in 1890 on it’s present day site as the first site was prone to flooding. In 1990 the church was offed for sale due to declining attendance. A community group purchased the building and to start with the church was only used for civil ceremonies or fundraising activities. Now it is back giving church services. It is a lovely little church and I could imaging how pretty it would be for a wedding. It even has a bell outside.
We were going to continue up the street for to look at the cemetery but Adrian’s back was giving him problems so we made our way back to the van.
I like Wollombi. I could imagine the little town being very active in tourist season. Being off season most of the coffee shops or gift stores were closed.
We went to the tavern for a drink at night. The building is old with a lot of Australian character to it. It is know for ‘Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice.’ It is said Jungle Juice is the difference between a gathering and a party. The Wollombi Tavern is the only place you can get the Jungle Juice so we had to give it a try. It was a hard to choose which way to have it as it comes in several different ways like: Wombat, Shag, and Sweet Surprise just to name a few. We tried the jungle juice on it’s own and I personally wasn’t over impressed. For me it tasted like a cross between a port and a sherry. Quite strong. I go for something sweeter.