Walter Burley Griffin's Legacy - Sample Small Town Australia on Walter's Way
The Burley Griffin way is a 290km east-west corridor in the northern Riverina stretching from the Hume Highway just west of Yass to Griffith. It’s less congested than the Sturt Hwy to the south and the Mid-Western Hwy to its north. Not brilliantly varied riding but well suited to cruisers who are interested in less congested good surfaced road dotted with some very interesting small pubs and towns.
If you’re doing it east to west, it’s probably a good idea to fill up at the Yass Service Centre where you can get all grades before heading 11km down the Hume, past the turn for Cowra and then right onto the Burley Griffin Way.
Then it’s just keep heading west for almost 300 clicks but most of the towns are no longer slap bang on the main road so you’re going to need to turn off the main road and into the towns.
Almost without exception, the detour is worth the effort. For Binalong, at a bit over 16kms from the eastern beginning of the BGW, take the right onto Fitzroy St, signposted Binalong (1km) and Boorowa (31kms), and follow this for a bit under the stated 1km and you’ll find the old pub and the new(er) one on your right. Once you’re done here, take the left onto Wellington at the pub (you’ll see the old general store on your diagonal right) and follow this back up to the BGW where you turn right.
Turn west and follow the highway as it takes an immediate hard left. The turn off to Galong is on the right a bit over 10km further west from Binalong and the old town is about 3km to the north on this road. A beautiful old pub which alas welcomes drinkers no more.
Continue west for about 18km and you’ll hit Harden and then down the straight dip and up the rise and you’ll be in Murrumburrah.
Seventeen kilometres west of Murrumburrah and through some scenic ridge stretches, you’ll come to the stop sign at the Olympic Highway.
Cross this and then take the next right and then a left at the T, over the crest and you’ll fi nd the Wallendbeen pub on your left as the road swings around it. Once you’re done here just continue and follow this road as it bends left then take a right back onto the BGW and you’ll get to the soon to be a ghost town of Stockingbingal and then another 34km to Temora. The town centre here is to your right at the main roundabout but the BGW continues straight through, signposted Griffith.
Thirty three kilometres west of Temora is the well signed turn right to Ariah Park and the turn for Mirrool is just 12km more. If you visit either, and they are worth it, you’ll need to U-turn and re-trace back the BGW. The same goes for Beckom, 15km west of Mirrool and for Ardlethan just 7km further along.
Yenda is 68km west of Ardlethan. To get to the old pub and the beautiful town centre park take a right onto East Ave at the Yenda Diggers’ Club.
This is the most easterly town on the Burley Griffin Way and it’s where Banjo Paterson’s family lived from 1869 and the poet went to primary school. The town’s on the north side of the BGW with a road in on both sides so you don’t need to backtrack. The Binalong Pub is down on Fitzroy St next to the old and crumbling and closed Old Patersons Pub. Some great old photos on the walls. The pub’s not open on Sundays but back on the BGW the Swan Inn, housed in a beautiful 1847 building, is open for light meals and good wine on Sundays only. Binalong Hotel: T: 02 6227 4246 The Swan Inn: T 02 6227 4531 (Yvette and Kerry)
A couple of kilometres to the north of the BGW, this is a sad story. The Royal Hotel here is a magnificent building and once had the most amazing beer garden I’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately it’s closed and doesn’t look like opening any time soon. A bad loss. Now the major attraction is the Catholic Retreat on Kalangan Rd north of the town.
The town centre is to the north of the BGW. The IGA’ is at 45 Neill St and is open from 8am all days ’cept Sunday when they sleep in for an extra hour. Best thing for me here is the fantastic and cheap council swimming pool at the eastern end of town.
Bad news: The Commercial Hotel is gone! Good news: The Light Horse has replaced it. This same old pub is in the hands of new owners intent on providing a great stop and paying homage to local history, especially the role of the local town in the formation of the 1st Light Horse Regiment in the Boer War. I’ve stayed here and despite being on the main drag, it’s surprisingly quiet even in the front veranda rooms. The Caltex on the south side of the road in the middle of town sells 91 and 98.
A top pub run by a great bloke in Groover. He had a ‘zero’ birthday last year and closed the pub for six days so everyone could piss off fishing with him! That kinda guy, that kinda pub. No meals and nothing else in town ’cept the ghosts in the Emporium and other stately old joints on the hill. You can free camp across from the pub or stay in the cottage with its air con and swimming pool. Lots of reno’s going on upstairs so it’s only going to get better. The locals are beyond friendly. Great place to overnight and chat! Wallendbeen Hotel T: 02 6943 2512
Not many sadder things than watching a town die. The pub finally closed its doors for the last time just before Christmas and with it, the struggling café back on the BGW. There’s just a post office open for a couple of hours each morning now, and the silent silos across the road from the line of closed shops. Your visits and your travels will help other towns at risk of becoming ghosts. Ride On!
Not much at Springdale anymore but you won’t have any issues if you need to camp around the recreation reserve on the north side of the road in the middle of town.
The IGA is on the corner of Victoria and Baker Streets, closed on Sundays but open from 8 am the rest of the week. I really enjoy the people and the food at Zest Café in the guts of town near the crossing. There’s designated bike parking right across in front of Target. Last time I dropped in the manager of a nearby store figured she’d park her car there. She told me that ‘everyone parks here and the police never do anything about it so it’s okay’. Kinda defeats the purpose! Just park the bastards in! The Caltex at the north end of town on Hoskins St sells 91 and 95. A couple of pubs also on Hoskins, but they are pretty unappealing bog standard rural hub town hotels.
This is a beautiful old town that oozes the love and care of the residents. The centre strip is a grove of pepper trees and pretty much every store has old memorabilia in the windows. There’s a small general store and a chemist and a whole pile of old petrol bowsers. It’s like a drive in museum! The splendid old pub opens at 4 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and at noon the others and it does dinners Wed through to Sunday. It has 10 twin rooms each of which will set you back 60 bucks a night with no discount for singles. There’s camping up behind the beautifully maintained Aussie rules/cricket oval. (12 bucks for powered and 6 for unpowered.) Pick up the keys from the hardware store in town. There’s limited shade but good showers are part of the deal. Ariah Park Hotel T: 02 6974 1068
Just the pub and the silos. The pub’s run by Selina and Adam (ex Darlington Point) and they do lunch and dinner seven days. Rooms are just 40 bucks a pop but the price is flexible for riders, the more you drink the less you’ll be hit for the bed! There’s free camping across the road with a donation box for the showers and toilets. If you enjoy putting the slipper in, there’s a ‘kick the ball over the silos’ comp each October and it sounds a real hoot. Cheapest beer on the road! This is an off the track pub that really does have the welcome mat out for riders. It would be ideal stopping place for a large group ride. Royal Hotel, Mirrool T: 02 6974 1237
This is just a beautiful small country pub with a delightful vine covered ground floor veranda. It’s run by Colin and costs just 35 bucks a night for a single or 45 for a twin. It’s closed on Mondays but opens at 3pm Tues through Friday and from noon on the weekends. Meals of course all days ’cept Mondays but if you’re coming through and need a Monday bed, call Colin on 0427 871 016 and he’ll be happy to sort you out. There’s parking round the back.
Unlike the neighbouring councils in Temora and Bland, the council here is not prepared to even consider doing anything to cater for motorcycle riders so it’s a town probably worth avoiding. Which is a pity; there’s a good café here and an IGA but there seems to be no point in putting your hardearned into a town whose council is simply not willing to do anything to support riders, especially when the neighbouring towns and councils are supporting us.
The Commercial Hotel is struggling but it’s a good place for a mid-ride break. They’ve just joined the ‘Big Thing’ group of towns. In addition to the Big Banana, Big Prawn, Big Mango, Big Bull, we now have Barellan’s Big Racquet, a tribute to local legend Evonne Goolagong.
Just love the huge grass park in the centre of town a bit off the highway. Most of the shops on the main street are shut but the pub’s still hanging in there. Really friendly folks inside and ask to see the nudes out back: A great painting of (supposedly) local women butt naked around a pool. Done by a local eccentric, it’s just one of what the barman told me is a ‘massive’ collection of, ‘muriels’ that the guy painted. None of ’em terrible, Muriel! Yenda Hotel T: 02 6968 1014
The end of this particular line with all you’re going to want and need but most accommodation is bog standard and characterless. Better to stay out at Yenda or down at the Rice Bowl Hotel at Whitton. There’re two IGAs on Yambil just east of Jondaryan Ave. The Caltex at the east end of town sells all grades of fuel. Griffith Motorcycle Centre’s on the corner of Wakaden St and Burrell Place and will be able to fix up any issues you have with your ride. T: 02 6962 4677