Adventure before dementia

imageHear, hear, said we all in unison when we spotted this slogan on the side of a ‘grey nomads’ caravan leaving us in their dust in West Wyalong, which is where we start our own ‘Ong Tour adventure, Day 5.  So here’s some facts about West Wyalong gleaned from the information folder in our caravan park cabin. imageThe explorer John Oxley was the first European to investigate the area in  1817, claiming that ‘from want of water, timber and grass this will never be inhabited by civilised man’. Those English explorers were so FECing pompous, weren’t they?  We’d be willing to wager that the Indigenous Wiradjuri inhabitants had been thriving on this land for centuries, thanks to their hunter-gathering smarts. I guess it depends on whether or not one buys into an Englishman’s definition of ‘civilised’.

imageNevertheless, the first inhabitants of the area continue the tradition of  getting short shrift in the historical context – only one fleeting mention that we could find.  When the Australian nation came into being in 1901, 146 ‘Federation Babies’ were born in West Wyalong but there are no records kept of indigenous births from that year nor any other. Having said that West Wyalong does have a very visible Aboriginal Land Council Office on the main street.

The beautifully refurbished Royal Hotel where we enjoyed both dinner last night and breakfast this morning
The beautifully refurbished Royal Hotel where we enjoyed both dinner last night and breakfast this morning

Our new friends at the pub last night proffered a rumour as to how the name Wyalong/West Wyalong came to be. Apparently an Aboriginal farmhand asked ‘Why long, boss?’ meaning ‘how long do you want this fence, Mr Farmer?’  We heard this rumour twice from two different sources but we ain’t biting.  We believe the name Wyalong is a connected to the water theme running through the bulk of the ‘Ongs we’ve visited so far – Lake Cowal, a haven for ducks and other bird life in the district, not being too far away from here.

imageA quick stop at the beautifully restored ‘Royal Hotel’ in the main ‘dog’s hind leg’ street of West Wyalong (follows an old bullock track, so we’re told), for a spot of breakfast. A wander along the main street and visit to the local cemetary later (#trykeepingmaryanneoutofthere) and we’re winging our way towards our next stop, Grong Grong, travelling through fields of wheat and canola to get there.

The bullock trail kink in the main road of West Wyalong
The bullock trail kink in the main road of West Wyalong


imageWhen we arrive in Grong Grong the local community park bears a sign with a quizzical Aboriginal reference to “Bad Camping Ground”. Perhaps the Traditional Owners were onto something!   We stopped at the Grong Gong pub for another much needed XXXX shandy and chatted to the very amiable publican, Ted. While we doubt there’s ever a peak hour in Grong Grong (the train station being closed down decades earlier and a main street that’s only as long as your arm) we’re were reliably informed by Ted that there’s ‘nothing at all’ in Matong, our next stop. We guess Ted (and the traditional owners) would know!

The girls might be waiting a while for a bus in Grong Grong
The girls might be waiting a while for a bus in Grong Grong

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@MadgetheBadge our #trustytourgiude tells us tomorrow is set to be a veritable cornucopia of ‘Ongs – Yerong, Adelong, Tumblong, Jugiong, and finally Tuggeranong, that ‘burb of Canberra. Do come al’ong and join us!


  1. says

    What a wonderful idea for a tour! Sorry for my ignorance, but does the suffix ‘ong’ mean water?
    And on the subject of civilisation, I came across a Gandhi quote the other day – perhaps you know it? When asked what he thought of western civilisation, Gandhi replied that he thought it would be a good idea.

  2. Janet McDonald says

    I missed this one … but wow, what a busy day this was. Gandhi would have loved it (but the lack of weaving in the mix). Firstly, I read the early section too fast and thought it said that John Oxley had stayed at the caravan park in West Wyalong, sleeping is way to the top, a usual. That pikey ended up schlepping around the Brisbane River too, but all the caravan parks got washed away in the floods.

    Keeping MA away from the cemeteries is a good idea, hasn’t she seen The Walking Dead: they aren’t IN the cemeteries, they are among us!!!

    Ted at the pub is my favourite … when we were recently at the Beach Cemetery (here we go) at Anzac Cove, there were so many military-styled tombstones with achingly sad almost cold messages on them (With God, Only Son of, For Country, Lest We Forget, etc) … and the boys and I found our favourite one that simply said “Well Done Ted”. Touching beyond anything in that beautifully haunting place. Ted’s family obviously didn’t get the memo from the War Office saying “please choose from these phrases only”. Or maybe they slipped the stone-mason another couple of shillings. Ted’s are always good value.

    Best picture so far: MA and Madge sitting, Waiting-for-Godot-style, at the Grong Grong bingo-bus stop. “We should go now.” “Yes, we should.” (they never leave).

    Love ewes.

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