Vagabonds, Scoundrels and Highway Robbery, along with the shout “Stand and Deliver” would send a shiver down the spine of many in days past as bushrangers were an integral part of the Australian landscape.
Recently, we had the occasion to travel into the beautiful Southern Highlands region of New South Wales. Our destination was Tarago, a small town located on the eastern side of Lake George which has a couple of historic buildings in its midst, including a quaint Anglican Church and at its epicentre, the “Loaded Dog Hotel”.
Nearby is the Woodlawn Mine, which produced gold, copper and zinc up until 1998, providing employment opportunities to the local community. Today, the site hosts a “Bio-reactor” which converts waste product, transported by rail from Sydney, to methane gas. And given its proximity to the political capital of Australia and its resident population of politicians, the hot air produced may very well be matched by that coming from Parliament House.
The Loaded Dog, which takes its name from the story by Henry Lawson, has had many visitors since opening its doors for trade in 1848 and amongst these have been the well-known bushrangers, Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, and the Clarke Brothers.
It was at The Loaded Dog that this infamous bunch planned a robbery of gold being transported from the Majors Creek Gold Mine – the planned heist never unfolded but needless to say there was plenty of romance, skulduggery, a murder, and a brush with the “law”.
Tarago is a destination in its own right and an easy drive from Sydney. And if you enjoy live music the pub hosts some great Australian talent in the front bar regularly on a Saturday evening. I imagine the scene may be as boisterous today as it would have been back in the days of the visiting bushrangers!
Alternatively, if you have the time it is a pleasant way to detour if you are travelling to the New South Wales south coast region, which you can do via Braidwood along the King’s Highway. Just outside of Braidwood is a beautiful free-camp spot by the Shoalhaven River where we stopped for a leisurely lunch amongst the travelling caravan groups.
The Australian Bush is full of interesting towns and Tarago is well worth making the detour for, even if just to visit “The Dog”.
And if in the area, beware of that cry “Stand and Deliver”, after all you are only about 75-kilometres from what might arguably be the hang-out of Australia’s modern day bushranger, Canberra!