Cootamundra, about an hour away from Wagga Wagga, is surrounded by classic undulating agricultural land and villages rich in heritage. If you are after a trip to find good old fashioned country values, a community with a sense of warmth and belonging, head to Coota, as it is affectionately known, to soak it all up.
Given “the greatest batsman the world has ever known” was born in Cootamundra, it is no surprise that there is a special interest in cricket in the town. Visit the birthplace of Don Bradman and then take the Captains Walk to view the 42 bronze sculptures of Australian Test cricket captains, including Unaarrimim, the leading aboriginal player in the first Australian cricket team to tour England in 1868.
The spectacular Milestone Sculptures around town celebrate Cootamundra’s claim to producing some of the nation’s finest quality wheat crops. Each sculpture represents wheat stalks and are lit from dusk until dawn. At night the colours of green and gold can be seen as they simulate the growth cycle and the subtle movement of a dense crop of wheat.
In July and August, Cootamundra turns a vivid yellow, as countless Cootamundra Wattle trees bloom.
The Wiradjuri Windows in Cootamundra Town Hall tell the dreamtime story of Mirriyuula, recreated in seven stained glass windows. The stained glass windows are a Wiradjuri tribute to Melinda Bell for keeping the old stories alive and to those children of the stolen generations who endured their years at the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home.
You’ve heard the song, right? On the road to Gundagaaaaaiiii… so get to it!
Only an hour from Wagga Wagga, Gundagai is so iconic it not only has a song but a poem written about it. Get your picture taken next to the iconic Dog on the Tuckerbox memorial, which has sat beside the Hume Highway as a tribute to Australia’s pioneers since 1932. The statue was inspired by a bullock drover’s poem, Bullocky Bill, which celebrates the life of a drover’s dog that loyally guarded the man’s tuckerbox until death.
Frank Rusconi was a master crafstman who in addition to creating the marble base for the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue, crafted The Marble Masterpiece over 28 years. The work, constructed entirely of NSW marble was finished in 1938 and consists of 20,948 hand cut and polished pieces. It must be seen to be believed.
Visit the town’s many heritage locations to learn why the town is so irresistible to artists, songwriters and poets who come back to it again and again as a subject of poetry and prose.
Wander past some of the town’s oldest buildings on the Heritage Architecture Walk and take the self-guided audio tour of the Old Gundagai Gaol. Don’t miss the Gundagai Heritage Railway and Australia’s longest timber viaduct the Prince Alfred Bridge, built in 1866.
Take the back road home to Wagga along the Murrumbidgee River flats to experience amazing countryside, whatever the season.
And good luck getting the song out of your head!