Blog – Pollie Pedal 2016 Day 2: Yass to Cootamundra

Meeting the kids from Eloura Special School
Meeting the kids from Eloura Special School

Pollie Pedal 2016 – Day 2: Yass to Cootamundra

Day two of Pollie Pedal travelled through the Southern Tablelands, a 110 kilometre ride from Yass, the home of the great explorer, Hamilton Hume, to Cootamundra via Binalong and Harden.

As we settle into our groups on the road, I recall the basic rules of cycling: Brake before you corner; change gears before you climb; eat before you are hungry; and drink before you are thirsty.

It is a journey poignant in the nation’s folklore. Yass, settled by the new Australians in the 1820s, was the childhood region of the poets, Banjo Paterson and John O’Brien.

Our ride takes us along the Burley Griffin Way to our destination, Cootamundra. We cycle through the countryside so evocatively captured by John Williamson in his song, ‘C

ootamundra Wattle’.

“Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining/And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend/For all at once my childhood never left me/’Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again.”

In a few months time, the bush will be flowering again, resplendent in the gold and green of our national colours.

Great to be at the Cootamundra Men's Shed today.
Great to be at the Cootamundra Men’s Shed today.

Our first stop is Binalong where Banjo Paterson attended Primary School and is famous for it’s motor museum.

A further 30 kilometres along Burley Griffin Way, we ride into Harden, another small country town, famous for one of the earliest Australian Lighthorse troops. A memorial in the Main Street commemorates the formation of the 1st Australian Horse troop in 1897. About 50 of the recruits served in the Boer War. The troop was absorbed into the Australian Light Horse in 1903.

Between Harden and Cootamundra a local agriculturalist explains the use of modern technology in farming. Soil samples are communicated by satellite to Canada from where an analysis is returned of the optimal amount of fertiliser required for different parts of the crop.

Local Mayor, Jim Slattery, welcomes us to Cootamundra in the Walk of Australian Cricket Captains park. Cootamundra was the birthplace of Don Bradman.

Many local carers have gathered, as well as children from the Elouera Special School.

Later, we were shown the work of the Cootamundra Men’s Shed by its members. Apart from restoring and building furniture, the Men’s Shed provides training for young people from the Youth Training Centre.

It is wonderful to hear the inspiring stories of people who do so much for their local communities.