Awash in Wagga Wagga

Well we can certainly pick our memorable weekend getaway destinations! On Sunday, our first full day in Wagga the city received its highest March rainfall since records have been kept, with 166mm (some 6 inches in the old measure) falling on the one day. Unfortunately it was also falling inside our accommodation. The owner had sent us a text alerting us to a leak that had developed the day before. It would not have caused any problem if it hadn’t kept raining. However emptying the kitchen tidy over the length of the day did give us something to do.You can see from my picture that where we walked under the bridge on Saturday, around Wollundry Lagoon, on Sunday was under a good half a metre of water.

We had planned to go to the Sunday morning car boot sale in the Myer car park and then later in the day drive out to the Overdale Markets. Sadly both were cancelled. We did the next best thing and headed out to Charles Sturt University where we were able to taste their wine, cheese and olive oil. Apparently we weren’t the only people who had the same idea. The man running the tasting cellar sales said that he arrived to find people waiting on the doorstep for the tasting room to open and he hadn’t even been able to stop long enough to get himself a cup of tea.

The University produces a large range of wines, white, red, sparkling, stickies and fortified. We selected a sparkling pinot-noir chardonnay and a sparkling shiraz and their liqueur muscat. The Long Paddock Rustler Olive oil we bought at the cellar  was also very good. Each picking and related pressing is kept separate and you can taste the quite distinct differences between the various oils. We got some Second Pick and some Heritage Oil. I really like the latter product and, I presume, it’s from the 100 year-old trees that the producers have been pruning to bring back into production – fantastic by itself on good bread.

The cheese on offer on the day was of the ‘flavoured’ variety, using Australian native herbs. While this may not be your cup of tea I was very pleasantly surprised by the end results. All the usual suspects are on offer – Bush Tomato, Alpine Pepper, and Lemon Myrtle. More unusual were, Forest Berry (a eucalypt flavour) and Native Mint. I really enjoyed the Native Mint, which I must admit struck me as an unusual choice to add to a cheese, that is, before I tried it. They do make other cheeses, both cheddar and soft but there weren’t any available to try when we were there.

By the time we made it back to our apartment we had the makings of a fine lunch. Bush Tomato cheese, two olive oils to taste and TB’s most recent batch of sourdough bread, followed by Cleopatra apples, from 10 Pialligo Rd, Pialligo (ACT), (purchased on the way back from incarcerating the moggy for the weekend).

Those of you with a passing knowledge of the etymology (the study of a word’s origins) of the name Wagga Wagga will know that is has traditionally been interpreted, from the Wiradjuri language, as meaning place of many crows. The city mothers and fathers have encouraged a proliferation of crow images (more correctly they are Australian Ravens (Corvus coronoides), in coats of arms, sculptures and other representations all over the city. My favourite images are the ceramic tiles made in 1938 to mark the sesquicentenary (150 years of European occupation) of Australia, located in the Sunken Garden, part of the Victory Memorial Gardens, near the Civic Centre. I even found my own corvid-themed souvenir of my visit, a commemorative teaspoon celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Wagga Wagga Public School (found at the local Sallies Family Store) with a crow on top of the school badge.

However, recently there has been a challenge as to whether the term Wagga Wagga actually means place of many crows or should be more correctly interpreted as meaning “dancing” or “staggering like a drunken man”. Suffice to say that so far the city elders are sticking to the crow interpretation – although a city full of sculptures of dancing or staggering people could be a real departure!

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