Blog – Pollie Pedal 2016 Day 3: Cootamundra to West Wyalong

Pollie Pedal Day 3: Cootamundra to West Wyalong

With Temora Mayor, Cr Rick Firman and CrMax Oliver, at the community function at Paleface Park.
With Temora Mayor, Cr Rick Firman and CrMax Oliver, at the community function at Paleface Park.

The last time I visited Cootamundra was a sad occasion, as it was the funeral of the former member for Hume, and longtime colleague, Alby Shultz. Alby epitomised the country people of Hume, a hard worker who fought fiercely for his principles and the residents of his electorate. Hundreds of them gathered at the Sacred Heart Church for the memorial service last July. It was good to catch-up with his long-time wife and political partner, Gloria, during Pollie Pedal.

This bustling town is home for some 5,500 people. It has a rich sporting history, being the birthplace of Sir Donald Bradman. The small cottage that was the birthplace of ‘The Don’ is now a museum dedicated to the great batsman.

The Cootamundra Cycling Club was established in 1896, one of the oldest in the nation. The region still remains a vibrant place for two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Today’s ride took us via Temora and Barmedman to West Wyalong. For kilometre after kilometre, we cycled through the bare stubble from the last harvest, awaiting burning and ploughing in readiness for this year’s crop.

Temora is a major flying centre and home of the well-known aviation museum, housing amongst the many planes, two WWII Spitfires. Thousands of enthusiasts journey here each year to see the collection of military aircraft.

We were welcomed by the Mayor, Cr Rick Firman, and other councillors to a community morning tea at Paleface Park in the centre of the town.

A full size statue of Paleface Adios, the great pacing champion, stands in Hoskins Street. Nicknamed the ‘Temora Tornado’, I recall watching him compete against the other great pacers of the era, such as Hondo Grattan and Pure Steel, at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in the 1970s. Paleface Adios won 108 races from 240 starts, including the 1976 Miracle Mile at Harold Park. The Riverina remains a great centre of harness racing.

Our next stop is Barmedman which services the surrounding wheat, canola and grazing holdings. The Barmedman Hotel dominates the Main Street. Like thousands of country hotels across the nation, it is a focal point for local farmers in the evenings.

After a short stop, we saddled-up for the 35 kilometre final leg to our destination for the day, West Wyalong.

The Mayor of West Wyalong, Cr Neil Pokoney, and fellow councillors hosted a community reception. It was a great chance to talk to local farmers and townsfolk about their issues. The Rotary Club bbq was a welcome sight after the 122 kilometre slog against cross-winds on flat slow roads.

We have covered about a third of our 1,000 kilometre journey.