Last Sunday was cold, windy and brilliantly clear, so we took ourselves off to look at Cooma cottage, the onetime home of the explorer Hamilton Hume, who, along with Hovell found the route south to Victoria, broadly taking the route followed today by the Hume freeway and the Sydney Melbourne train line.
To confuse everyone, Cooma cottage is no where near Cooma, but is in fact a few k’s outside of the old wool town of Yass.
Cooma cottage is an early farm cottage, with the original core of the building built in a style not that different from late eighteenth and early nineteenth century buildings in England, but of course here, all the handmade bricks were made locally, the woodwork and the fitments all locally made, even down to the hooks in the tack room being locally made out of six inch iron nails.
After Hume, the house had a varied history, being used at one time as a sanitorium for consumption patients, and somehow has survived sort of more or less intact, or at least instact enough for the National Trust to return it to something like how it looked in Hume’s time, with a little formal garden, some mid nineteenth century wallpaper and the like.
It must have been a cold sparse life, with supplies and manufactures from Yass if you were lucky, or perhaps Sydney, and the luxuries of life, books, writing paper and the like, and even basic manufactured goods having to be imported from half a world away.
When we’d finished looking at the house we had an alfresco lunch, soup from a thermos, cheese, oatcakes, fruit, in the picnic area, and a cold and windy affair it was – no wonder the house had had a life as a sanitorium. Bracing was certainly the word for it.
After his exploring days were done Hume made is money farming sheep for wool – shades of Magwitch in Great Expectations.
As did the town of Yass. After lunch we took ourselves into Yass for a decent cup of coffee. Strange to say we had never really stopped in Yass except to go to the loo on the way to Cowra, Forbes or Parkes.
And we’d been missing something – Yass dates fro the 1830’s and still has some good old colonial buildings in terms of banks, a Victorian post office, and some good shop fronts, including a hardware store with a pressed tin front, pressed to look like brickwork.
We did find ourselves a decent cafe in one of the old store fronts, one that still retained the old patterned pressed tin ceilings and nicely painted in a heritage green colour – and it served a pretty decent cup of coffee as well.
Then to avoid the Sunday afternoon winery traffic around Murrambateman we took the long way back, round by Gunning, which still has an old slab pioneer house, not to mention a pub called the ‘Telegraph’ a very nineteenth century name, and definitely somewhere that would repay a fuller visit, and then back through Gunderoo and back.
All in all a pretty interesting day, and one to be replayed sometime in the future as a photo trip …