At Kimo Es­tate near Gunda­gai, we build a late-night fire in the kitchen of the shear­ers’ quar­ters.

Country Style - - JOURNEY RIVERINA NSW -

A re­minder that the stock­men’s huts had no elec­tric­ity or run­ning wa­ter makes the cosy warmth of café and cinema Nest in Tum­barumba even more wel­com­ing. Owner Laura Frau­meni will con­tinue to stoke the wood fires into spring for as long as they’re needed. “We’ve had snow in Oc­to­ber be­fore, so you never know,” she says. “Tum­barumba is all about na­ture, so dress to en­joy it, then come back to the café and warm up with a spiced hot cho­co­late.” At Laura’s urg­ing, we find our­selves at Lau­rel Hill’s Su­garpine Walk, a sec­tion of old-growth for­est where the tree­tops meet over­head and the pine nee­dles form a thick ground­cover that muf­fles all sound. To re­cover, we found our­selves back at Nest, by the fire, with spiced cho­co­late in hand. There are other ben­e­fits of this cool cli­mate. Tum­barumba has a rep­u­ta­tion for premium grapes, es­pe­cially chardon­nay and pinot noir used in sparkling wine. At Courabyra Wines you’ll re­ceive a warm wel­come from Prost, the Ger­man short­haired pointer, and owner Cathy Gairn. She and her hus­band Brian planted grapes in the 1990s and have gone from ex­pe­ri­enced farm­ers to award-win­ning wine­mak­ers. Camel­lias love the cold, too, and flour­ish­ing bushes can be seen ev­ery­where, from Tu­mut to Tooma. More than once we find our­selves screech­ing to a halt to ad­mire a par­tic­u­larly fine ex­am­ple, in a gar­den, small park and even by the road. Blow­er­ing Dam — it just cel­e­brated its 50th an­niver­sary last month — north of Yar­ran­go­b­illy and one of the big­gest dams in NSW, comes as a sur­prise. The body of wa­ter, bright and in­tense on a crisp, cloud­less day, is com­mand­ing. At last we ar­rive at Yar­ran­go­b­illy, and the ther­mal pool does not dis­ap­point. It’s a 700-me­tre walk from the carpark and, as you de­scend the steep bush track, the sea-green wa­ter is a tantalising sight through flut­ter­ing gums. The path is crowded with swim­mers: care­free and ex­cited on the way down, and huff­ing and puff­ing on the re­turn leg. A tim­ber pool was built at the site of this nat­u­ral ther­mal spring in 1896 and this ver­sion was con­structed in the 1960s. It’s in the open and fed by na­ture. No mat­ter what the weather, sum­mer’s fierce heat or win­ter’s fall­ing snow, the wa­ter re­mains a con­stant 27 de­grees. All around, the air is in­fused with the sound of bird­song and the whis­per of eu­ca­lypt leaves brushing and sway­ing over­head. When the sun drops late in the af­ter­noon, light streams through the bush and plays over the wa­ter, turn­ing it emer­ald green. If only we’d re­alised ac­com­mo­da­tion was avail­able in the na­tional park it­self; there are lodges that were built early last cen­tury by the hik­ers and cavers who vis­ited, and they have been ren­o­vated in re­cent years. We could have booked in for a week. Or more. Good to know for a re­turn visit then.

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