As the weather cools down, two charming villages just over an hour from Canberra not far past Yass are lovely places to take a step back in time and explore their peaceful rural settings: Binalong and Bookham. The bush towns are small and quiet, but not short on either scenery or character.
So what will you find in the tiny villages?
Binalong features some outstanding colonial architecture, from a Cobb & Co staging post dating back to 1840, to an old general store, beautiful bank and classic country hotel. It’s also where bush poet and author Banjo Paterson attended the local school and the place where notorious outlaw Johnny Gilbert lost his final gunfight.
The old Cobb & Co staging post is now home to the Black Swan Gallery.
Experience glassblowing at Minson Art Glass.
An unexpected find is the Binalong Motor Museum, featuring rare cars and bikes and a restoration workshop. The vehicles, including Bugatti, Ducati, Lotus Elite, Delage and Norton motorcycles, are usually in working order and the display changes regularly. There are picnic and barbecue facilities, refreshments and sales of books, posters and models.
Motel Royal Tara Restaurant offers an a la carte menu and light lunches that are perfect for day trippers, and you can warm up in front of the roaring fire in winter.
Cafe on Queen is the place to visit for fresh, warming food including sandwiches, melts and all day specials. It operates out of a 100-year-old building which was once the general store in the town. Visitors can dine in the historic building or relax in the surrounding gardens.
If you’re travelling as part of a crowd, 1 km from the village is Kuriong Sheep Station which provides coach groups with a chance to see shearing, working sheep dogs, whip cracking, drenching, branding, spinning, and antiquated machinery. Hand-knitted jumpers and handicrafts are for sale and morning teas, afternoon teas and lunches can be arranged. But the station is only open for group bookings.
Bookham is home to two lovely granite churches, which still open their doors to the grazing community from surrounding areas. There’s a cricket ground complete with a white picket fence – it’s the memory of races at this track that inspired poet Banjo Paterson to write Old Pardon the Son of Reprieve.
Bookham is also starting to be something of an eco-tourism destination with the Murrumbidgee Canoe Trail beginning at Nanangroe Reserve nearby. The reserve is a great location to enjoy a spot of canoeing or kayaking.
Why you’ll love the sleepy villages
Nestled in beautiful countryside, Binalong and Bookham are the perfect spots to take a stroll, get up close to some of Australia’s early history, head for a paddle on a nearby river, check out some rare cars and motorbikes, go for a bike ride or explore the area by car or on foot.
Bookham and Binalong are both a short hop up the Hume Highway from Yass. Binalong can be reached from Burley Griffin Way (turn off the Hume after Yass) or from Illalong Road. It takes about 15 minutes to cover the 17km between the two villages using this route.
When to go
Any time is a good time to explore Bookham or Binalong. Time your visit to coincide with events in the Yass region to get the most out of your day trip.
The Bookham Sheep Show and Country Fair is a great day out for all the family with an art exhibition, activities for kids, a photography competition and a vegetable competition. There are craft and produce stalls and plenty of food to purchase.
Have you dropped in to Bookham or Binalong on your travels?