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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

A sorrowful tale I’ll tell,
Concerning of a hero who through misfortune fell
His name, it was Ben Hall
– (trad), Weddings Parties Anything, 1989

Does anyone else find the Logies excruciating? It seems to get more puerile every year. Funny people aren’t funny, and smart people look insipid and/or embarassed. Only Johanna Griggs looks excited. As Dave From Albury twitted tweed observed mere moments ago, “When even Rove doesn’t respect the Logies anymore, does that mean that they have officially jumped the shark?” It’s enough to turn you back to the computer on a Sunday evening.

Okay, what happened with the rest of that long weekend? A little while after the Dawn Service, The Bald Man hopped on his bike, joined two friends and rode to Collector. Collector is not a cafe, not a shop, and not in this case a common noun, but one of the weirdly named places* within cooee of The Berra. This Collector is a smidgen of a town about 60km to the north-east not far from Lake George**, known for its annual pumpkin festival and not much else. It was a stupid brave thing to ride out there, given the filthy weather (the drizzle had cleared a little, mostly blown away by the gale-force winds). I am not so stupid brave and therefore opted to drive out there to meet them. The plan was to stay overnight at the famed Bushranger Hotel.

The Bushranger Hotel, Collector. Ominous.

The Bushranger Hotel, Collector. Ominous.

The Bushranger Hotel was founded in 1860 as the Kimberley’s Commercial. A heritage study of the Hotel I found at the bar notes that the name Collector is probably a corruption of a local Aboriginal word ‘collegdar’, thought to mean either ‘pelican’ or ‘hill’ (of course, they’re so similar). The Hotel’s name was changed after an incident in which Ben Hall and his mates Gilbert and Dunn shot a Constable Nelson right outside the pub.

With that sort of heritage, I suppose I should have expected a rowdy night. Certainly the plasma TVs, one over the otherwise-empty bar and one in the main lounge blaring the Country Music Channel at full volume mid-afternoon, should have been a hint. But no. I was captivated by the many rustic touches, including the sign labelled “dunnies” confusing some non-English speaking tourists who were also visiting, the strangely attired and unravelling stuffed kangaroo, and the collection of dead snakes in jam jars on the shelf behind the pool table.

The counter meals certainly lived up to the hype; I thoroughly recommend the pork roast. The beer on tap is fine. Together, they make a nice day trip. But that’s all I’d recommend.

To cut a long story short, all other business at the Collector Hotel was conducted at an excruciating volume. As patrons started to flow in, the volume of conversation went up, the music went up to compensate, and the conversation rose to shouting level. Tribes of feral children ran screaming through the premises accompanied by dogs and chasing cats. At one point The Bald Man turned the music down a little, but it was promptly turned back up to ear-splitting. At about 9.30pm, tired from the ride and tired of shouting, our group retired to our respective rooms. At about this time, the plasma was retuned to a contemporary music channel and the party began in earnest. Our bedroom was directly over the lounge, and the floor vibrated with the noise. This continued until 2.45am. At this time someone turned off the music halfway through an appalling song, which was all the better to hear another half hour of whooping and shouting as the remaining patrons wound down. I can honestly say I have never paid for a more hideous hotel experience, and believe me I have plenty to choose from. The morning wasn’t much better, as the bathrooms turned out not to have been washed for some weeks and were too vile for use. We fled into an oncoming storm.

Bruce Stadium, or rather, Canberra Stadium. Those are cheerleaders on the turf, freezing their rumps off at half time. I don't get this cheerleaders thing. Personally, I'd rather have the Little League.

Bruce Stadium, or rather, Canberra Stadium. Those are cheerleaders on the turf, freezing their rumps off at half time. I don't get cheerleaders. Personally, I'd rather have the Little League.

Sunday had one good experience in store, however; my first ever a-grade Rugby League match. In fact, it was a Raiders game at Bruce Stadium, making it a truly Berran experience. The weather was a disturbing mix of sunshine and sleet, and the crowd a piffling 10,000 (the AFL girl in me sniffed) but I have to confess watching good footy in the flesh is always a joy. It was a good match too, although the Raiders lost. I think I am finally on my way to understanding and perhaps even appreciating the northern codes, a little. Go you Raiders.

* There’s also a place nearby called Tarago. Not related to Toyota in any way, I understand.
** Another strangely named place, seeing as there’s never any actual ‘lake’ at Lake George. Well, I saw water in it once, but that was decades ago.

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