“Where do you get your millet from?”, I asked the young bloke at The Tumut Broom Factory, half expecting an answer like Weethalle or Temora, or another nearby Riverina town. When he told me “Mexico”, I was genuinely surprised. When he explained it was “labour costs, I understood completely, though I was also a little disappointed.
I’d first visited the factory thirty years ago, though I hadn’t remembered that level of detail. Instead, I’d remembered fondly the idea of a small “backyard” operation. Even now, it is only two people: the young bloke, and (I assumed) an older family member, who seem to run a fairly “tight” operation.
Back then there was a sense of “nostalgia” about these type of brooms. In these days of plastic brooms, I remember we had an old-style broom factory in Engine Street, South Lismore, around the corner from where I was born. Even now, I remember the regular trips we made to purchase a new broom and the wonderful associated smells.
Though we didn’t make a purchase, it was wonderful, nonetheless, to take a look around the factory.
Though I didn’t get to see what happened “behind the scenes” it was also terrific to visit the Tumut River Brewing Company.
“What type of beers do you like?”, the young bloke with dreadlocks behind the bar asked me. After rattling off a number of favourite beers, I suggested he choose a few for me in one of those small-glassed tasting plates.
My overall favourite was the “You Am I” IPA. From the moment it touched my taste buds to the end, it was a wonderful drink. The “surprise” was the “Bounty Hunter”, a dark ale with strong flavours of chocolate and coconut. On a lighter note, I really enjoyed one of the ciders and the ginger beer. Both were very good, being neither overly sweet nor overbearing in their flavours.
Seated on an old leather couch, it it was a lovely way to spend an hour, as I waited for Sue to complete an online video conference.
Only a few others came in – a couple of blokes in hi-vis for some lunch, and a group of 20-something women for coffee.
After that I went for a walk around town. Encouragingly, in contrast to many other country towns, there were only a few empty shops. I called in to one to buy a new jacket. I’d come down here with only a light pullover, and figured I needed something in addition. “Yes, we’ve had a few visitors buying something warm”, the woman in the shop told me.
“I’ve figured it out”, I said to Sue, later, “Tumut is like Casino”. Casino is a town not far from Lismore, and Tumut had the same kind of small-town vibe.
That was also pretty evident later in the evening as we had dinner with Sue’s friend from Sydney who happened to be in town for work. In the course of an hour, “The Oriental” went from a quiet place to a very busy place. Though we don’t know for sure, we think it was playing host to a funeral/wake.
The other place we visited yesterday was the town of Batlow. I’d always remembered Batlow as a very pretty little town, with apple orchards, lots of trees, and a nice small-town vibe to it.
Our only other big event for the day was a visit to the Blowering Dam Wall. Although the dam was on our list of “to-do” things, we had no idea we should visit the dam wall, until the suggestion came from the woman at the Tumut Tourist Office on Sunday.
The wall is about a 15-minute drive from the centre of town, taking you along a narrow and sometimes steep and windy road. You’ll then come to a fork in the road, offering you a choice of heading up to the wall, or down to the picnic area. We visited both. Highly recommended, as you go through the nature, and contemplate the sheer scale of the work done to construct this, and other parts of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.