While our trip from Glebe to Helensburgh in the Royal National Park took us to a fantastic place, it was not really the start of our journey home, today that trip started in earnest. We drove from Helensburgh to Narrandera on the Murrumbidgee River. Narrandera is also the crossing point of the north-south and east-west roads, the Sturt Highway we are heading west on and the Newell Highway going from Brisbane to Melbourne.
The drive up onto the Southern Highlands was a stunning climb through the forest, the road switched back again and again with hairpin bends reminiscent of the European Alps. At the top we stopped at the old cheese factory in Robertson for coffee. The land changed from green to brown and the temperature crept up from Sydney’s 28* reaching 43* by the time we stopped in Wagga Wagga.
I wanted to look at their new Council building constructed in 1999, designed by Melbourne practice Garner Davis Architects, because it is on a site of similar shape and size to Fremantle’s proposed new facilities. The entrance is high and welcoming with a long Service & Information (S&I) counter, to the left is a big modern library boasting lots of natural light. The Council Chambers are tucked away on the ground floor behind the S&I desk. In addition to civic affairs the Chamber is hired out for corporate events, something the Officer in charge is less than enthusiastic about due to the regular format changes, corporates rarely want the formal council bench setup.
The first floor houses the council officers and the basement an art gallery and shop. There is also a coffee shop and internal public toilets. The space seemed to work well, with the exception that some of the architectural angles and corners are moving as the building settles and consequently leak.
100 km further west and we were in Narrandera, still 40* at 6:00pm. We stayed in the newly renovated art deco New Criterion Hotel; the photograph shows the reception with ladder-back chairs. The rooms were comfortable and the air conditioner very much appreciated.