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Tracee22 Oct 27th, 2005 12:53 PM

Looking for small town NSW
Our Sydney trip is coming up soon.
For a day trip we would like to hop a 1-3 hours and arrive at a rural small town that might be large enough to poke around for a few hours...have a meal...see the local library...all on foot. We would like this to be a low key day...nothing spectacular or touristy. Any suggestions from Sydney locals that may have spent a lazy Sunday this way? Thanks so much Tracee

Tassietwister Oct 27th, 2005 01:41 PM

Hi Tracee

Sydney is well spread out so takes about an hour just to get through suburbia and outlying areas. One outlying suburb that I would class as semi rural is Windsor. We have spent a pleasant few hours in this town a few times. This is northwest from the city.

something to read

Southwest in the southern highlands are some nice towns, Moss Vale, Bowral, Robertson. Though I like this area by car so you can hop around the train line does run through here. Further afield is a major rural town of Goulburn


The western train line goes through the blue mountains, a national park area so the first real rural town easily accessed by train would probably be Bathurst. Maybe too far for one day.

North and South the train lines go through some national park areas before arriving at urban areas of central coast and the City Of Wollongong. Both train trips are pleasant not may not fir criteria of rural town.
Though pleasant towns in either direction if seaside towns appeal.

Neil_Oz Oct 27th, 2005 07:20 PM

Good idea, Tassietwister - I second my home town, Windsor. Although the suburban blight is approaching on the Hawkesbury Valley it's still semi-rural and has historical interest as the Colony's third major settlement, after Sydney and Parramatta.

There are some interesting Georgian and Victorian buildings, notably St Matthew's Anglican Church and Rectory, the Court House and the houses fronting Thompson Square. The main points of interest are the museum and the art gallery (which is co-located with the library).

The best way to see the district is by car, to places like Kurrajong Heights and Wisemans Ferry, but I guess that won't suit you. However, you could fill in half a day at Windsor. Not sure about lunch, but it might be worthwhile trying a restaurant in an old house in the main street's pedestrian mall (name escapes me, but it used to be called Loder House and I think it bears a plaque to that effect).

Unfortunately the tourist information office is at Clarendon, one train stop past Windsor and useful only to the carborne, but you could have a look at

Alan Oct 27th, 2005 07:36 PM

I guess Windsor or Richmond are, as you say, our closest "small towns", but, as pleasant as they both are, they're a bit too "outer suburb" nowadays to give Tracee22 what she is looking for. I think I'd suggest combining this ambition with another popular destination and doing the two over a two-day period: and my choice, then, would be a train to theBlue Mountains and then a rental car to Oberon, which still has more of the "country town" feeling. And, of course, it's only a few minutes' drive from Jenolan Caves. So Tracee would see the Blue Mountains, the Caves, and a "real" country town in one expedition (she could even have a look at Lithgow and/or Bathurst as well).

If it has to be a train journey, however, Windsor would seem a logical choice; the other front-runner -- Campbelltown -- is even more of a "suburb" nowadays than Windsor is.

Bokhara Oct 27th, 2005 09:56 PM

Hi Tracee,
I'd go to Bowral, I think. It's charming, very walkable and has some good lunch possibilities. Check out the Bradman museum (Sir Donald Bradman, one of the World's great cricketers) and the "Village Green" oval nearby.

Enjoy your stay. I like to take a day "out of town" when I travel, too. :)

Tracee22 Oct 28th, 2005 02:08 PM

Thanks everyone...I've been researching your sugestions for the various towns...and found a sidenote that the town of Robertson was the locale for the '90's movie "Babe" .I remember the lush rolling green hillsides in that movie...looked like heaven!! So that's the place. There is also a train with refurbished 1920-1930's coach cars that heads up that way from Sydney. That is exactly what we are looking for! You guys are awesome..... VIVA LA (EL?)FODORITES !!! Tracee

Neil_Oz Oct 28th, 2005 02:16 PM

Yes, Tracee, Robertson would be a good choice, train schedules permitting.

Let's see now - "vivos los Fodoritos" (masc. pl.) or "vivas las Fodoritas" (fem. pl.)?

Tassietwister Oct 28th, 2005 02:51 PM


If you mean the Cuckatoo Run please book as soon as possible. Not always easy to get a seat.

Regarding being green, last time I was up in the Highlands (April for Brigadoon) is was green but will depend of recent rainfalls.

Quite a scenic train journey on the way though. Good choice.

WallyKringen Oct 29th, 2005 06:11 PM

Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Check it out at


Alan Oct 30th, 2005 04:34 AM

While I don't think much of Robertson -- and I suspect that the rolling hills in "Babe" might have had a touch of the special effects applied to them (I can't recall ever swooning over the scenery around there)-- I must tell you that if you DO choose Roberston, I have a marvellous recommendation for you for a place to stay. I discovered it, 20 years ago, quite by accident, and subsequently returned on several occasions (especially in winter, when the open fireplaces and communal rooms are at their most cosy); its name is Ranelagh House, and it was originally built as a grand hotel back around the turn of the century... it even had its own railway station back then, and horse-drawn carriages to meet each train, waiting to transport the "Sydney rich" to their rooms. It was, apparently, a place to be seen.

Ranelagh was, of course, one of the big casualties of the Depression, and escaped demolition by becoming, during the thirties, a TB sanatorium. After this metamorphis, it was acquired by a convent, who put in stained glass windows and a chapel. Then it fell into disuse, and operated, in the seventies and eighties, as a very cheap hotel which was awfully run-down (I seem to remember on my first visit that the upper floor had been closed off and left to the rats) but had all this wonderful antique furniture in the rooms (suites, in some cases).... plus some 19th-century plumbing which was a bit off-putting. Finally, it was restored and is now a grand hotel again, most often used, in this business age, for conferences. Everywhere you look there are signs of its former incarnations.... the ballroom, the chapel, the spa, the tennis courts, the walk-in coolroom in the kitchen. You can have fun just wandering around its corridors!

Even if you fins Robertson a bit of a let-down, Ranelagh will be quite an experience!

margo_oz Oct 30th, 2005 04:15 PM

Gerrringong, on the southern line, is a nice little town.

I'd pass Robertson - unless you like pies!

Tassietwister Oct 31st, 2005 11:01 PM

I think it fair if I ask anyone who puts down this trip to Robertson if they ever have been on the Cuckatoo Run or know anything about it?

Tassietwister Nov 2nd, 2005 02:19 AM

No reply.

Typical Aussies talking out their a***. LOL

Cuckatoo Run goes to Robertson via Wollongong, all uphill, very scenic..beautiful if you half a love of Australia.

I love it.

Run by train restorers, not after a profit but to finance their train hobby.

In Roberston there is a pub lunch with jazz or a trip to Bowral or Ranelagh if you wish. Lazy Sunday down to a tee.

Fits the bill, low key, nothing spectacular or touristy but a damn nice day out.

Real nice.

But if the armchair experts still want to disagree then please detail your problems with this recommendation.

btw I do actually catch the train a lot and I get the opinion from reading that many do not.

Still they are expert, as we are all reminded every 5 minutes.

Alan Nov 2nd, 2005 03:48 AM

Guilty as charged, Tassietwister. I have never taken the train from Wollongong to Robertson .... in fact, in my four trips there, I have never even SEEN a train, profit-making or not.

I freely acknowledge you as the Robertson expert, as will, I am sure, everybody else on this site.

And, actually, I think the train trip you describe might be terrific, and I am tucking it away in my memory as something I really must do soon. In fact, I think Tracee would probably enjoy the train trip more than she would enjoy the rolling green hills of Robertson!

By the way, is the "Big Potato" still there? I recall it as giving us the best laugh we had on our whole journey.... I had seen the Big Banana, and the Big Prawn, and the Big Chicken, but this potato..... a great brown shapeless lump which looks like nothing you could imagine... except maybe that some giant flying creature had left a deposit on the side of the road.

It's not as funny, however, as the old Oberon cinema (if it's still there, which I doubt), so I wouldn't recommend that Tracee choose Robertson over Oberon on the strength of the Big Potato!

I think a train trip from Wollongong and an overnight stay at Ranelagh sounds absolutely terrific, the best of anything so far offered on this thread; however, Tracee's 1 - 3 hour train trip from Sydney has suddenly become a two-day odyssey, which may be, tempting or not, quite different to what she was hoping for. But it would, I think, be worth an adjustment to your schedule, Tracee, if this is possible for you.

Tracee22 Nov 2nd, 2005 08:32 PM

Now now boys and nice!
Forget the Cockatoo Run...I want to spend that Sunday in a pub, with Alan, Tassietwister, and a couple of pitchers of beer. The discourse might not be touristy or low key...but its certain to be spectacular!
And what's wrong with the Big Potato? We have gone out of our way to see the Big Muskie (a 2 story high fish) in Wisconsin, and the Big Pyramid pluncked down in the middle of an Illinois cornfield... a Big Potato photo will take a prominent place in our photo album!
You guys are a blast...thanks so much for the laughs...or as my kids would say...ROTFLMAS :) Tracee

margo_oz Nov 2nd, 2005 09:05 PM

Lil hand waving!
I saw the Giant Kiwifruit in New Zealand last week, but, in all my excitement, I forgot to take a photo! :(

pat_woolford Nov 3rd, 2005 03:09 AM

Damn, Margo, how could you do that!!

Not too far from where I live now we have the "big gumboot" at Tully, which vies with Babinda as the wettest town in Australia. Realistically reproduced with an enormous replica of a green tree frog attached.

Neil_Oz Nov 3rd, 2005 12:07 PM

The giant Kiwifruit? You've got to hand it to the New Zealanders - rebranding the Chinese gooseberry was a stroke of marketing genius (if that's not an oxymoron).

Alan Nov 3rd, 2005 04:35 PM

Tracee, because you are a mere tourist and not expected to know anything about anything, we will forgive you for referring to a couple of "pitchers" of beer.... but, for your ultra-important pre-arrival education, you should know that in Australia we drink a couple of SCHOONERS of beer. If you ask for a "pitcher" of beer, the publican is likely to hand you an 8X10 glossy of a can of VB!

The big muskie in Wisconsin!! The Big Pyramid in Illinois (of course, I forgot that the ancient Egyptians built, along with Thebes and Heliopolis, the city of Chicago!)! The big Chinese Gooseberry in New Zealand!! What is going on here? I thought that Australia had a monopoly on building idiotic structures like this, and that other countries built the Taj Mahal or the Chrysler Building or the Eiffel Tower! We talk a lot nowadays about the dumbing-down of movies and the dumbing-down of education, but maybe we are witnessing the dumbing-down of monuments! Other countries may copy us (they always do!), but I am sure that, in this field at least, Australia was the pioneer and is still the world leader!

Are there any more of these fascinating structures in other countries of the world? I think I might start on a book: "100 Unbelievebale and Pointless Big Structures That You Have to See Before You Die". Come on, now, you can all help in making this a best-seller!

Personally, I like avocadoes. I think I will go out and buy 2000 tonnes of concrete, and next week my front yard will be adorned by the Big Avocado. Or maybe it would be easier to go down to Robertson, steal the Big Potato, and paint it dark green! (Maybe the New Zealanders did this already... the Big Chinese Gooseberry, indeed!)

margo_oz Nov 3rd, 2005 05:16 PM

I have to say, in the scheme of "Big Things", I didn't think the Big Kiwifruit rated very well at all. Not compared to some I've seen (and I've travelled to see some!) I also saw a big kumera, but it wasn't called a "Big Kumera", so I guess it doesn't count!

My favourite remains the "Big Prawn" at Ballina!

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