Corryong rates as top destination for Back Roads host Heather Ewart

Back Roads host Heather Ewart fondly recalls trips to a small town on the Upper Murray.

My most memorable holiday was to Corryong, a town on the Victorian and New South Wales border. I’ve always had a soft spot for that part of the world. I’ve filmed Back Roads there, but the last time I was there on holiday, I went with my mum and my cousin for Mother’s Day in 2017.

It was the last holiday I took with my mum before she passed away, so it’s special for that reason. I spent a lot of time there during my school days as well. I grew up on a farm in Victoria.

Corryong is in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. It’s just beautiful. It’s Man from Snowy River country, and the annual Man from Snowy River Bush Festival is held there every year in April. It’s a massive event showcasing the skills of stockmen and women from around the country; thousands of people come. Banjo Paterson’s poem is allegedly about a local stockman called Jack Riley. Some people dispute that it was him, but he’s buried there in the Corryong cemetery. I’ve been there for the festival – it’s a really bright event. I really enjoyed it. And then I went back about a month later with Mum and my cousin. In May, the autumn colors are absolutely at their peak and I can’t begin to tell you how stunningly beautiful it is. It’s really a wonderful place to be at that time – well, at any time of year, especially when you’ve got the backdrop of the mountains.

There’s also a lot of wonderful little towns nearby like Walwa with mountains that are snow-capped in winter. There’s a fabulous little town nearby called Jingellic, which has a really historic hotel. And a lot of people love to caravan there on the Murray River because it’s such a beautiful spot. The town of Towong has an annual cup – they call it the “Flemington of the bush”. There’s one of the oldest grandstands there. I’ve been to the races. They used to be held on New Year’s Day, but they’re now held on the March long weekend. In my teens, I had a lot of friends who grew up in this part of the world and so have very fond memories of spending time there.

Even though this is quite a remote part of the world, there’s a lot going on – they seem to be good at putting on big events in this part of the world.

I think the beauty of Corryong is what’s around you. You’ve got the Kosciuszko National Park. You can take the Alpine Way, which takes you on a really beautiful drive up into Jindabyne and Thredbo. And there are also cafes and restaurants that have been opened up by young people who have decided to return back home to where they grew up. There’s some really excellent food going on.

I really like roadtrips. When we were kids, that’s just what we did. My dad was a farmer, and he liked nothing better than going on a decent road trip. My mother, on the other hand, loved going to the beach. One of the road trips we did when I was a kid took us through Corryong. We did the Alpine Way across to Jindabyne. I really remember that holiday because it was just so beautiful.

Lake Jindabyne in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Murray Vanderveer
Lake Jindabyne in Kosciuszko National Park. Picture: Murray Vanderveer

The thing I love most is the characters you meet along the way. Every town is similar in some ways but so different in others. And Australia is so diverse in its landscape. I just love that diversity and I love visiting a little pub springing up out of nowhere. That’s such a nice surprise. Or take the scenic route. It might take you longer, but it’s full of so many surprises. I love the unknown. I love shopping for local produce. I’m never short of jams and relishes in my pantry in Melbourne – I pick up plenty of those along the way.

On the new series of Back Roads, the very first episode is actually “The Great Australian Road Trip Special”. It’s part of ABC’s 90th-anniversary celebration. We had a lot of fun trawling back through the archives. Hopefully, it will make people think about planning a road trip and getting out there. I’m one of those people who really are so appreciative of what we have here at home. I think in the case of Covid,  it’s also opened people’s eyes to what is right on their own doorsteps. It’s always great to see new parts of Australia, and there’s plenty that I haven’t seen yet.

Heather Ewart with bushmen Dougie and “Snaggs” between Corryong and Khancoban.

The new series of Back Roads airs on Mondays at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview from January 3. 

This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com

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