Bathurst and bagpipes

We recently took an extended weekend to travel to the NSW country town of Bathurst. This is the chosen place of residence for our Papa, Mr Bagpipes. He was celebrating a rather, cough cough, significant birthday. How old you ask? Bloody 70, he would reply. Despite his misgivings, this is a good thing. He is a young 70.. I mean, like a 21 year old 70.

Beautiful Bathurst was the place of the first goldrush in Australia. With a population of around 41,000 people, there is an elegant and historic city centre with a slightly slowed down country feel. To balance this, Bathurst is also a university town with a youthful and energetic vibe. It is famous for Mount Panaroma, an internationally known race track that attracts petrolheads from all over every October for the awesomely noisy Bathurst 1000.

Bathurst is a bit of an understated beauty. The dark haired, brown eyed demure lass who stands undemandingly in the corner. But when you give her your full attention, she shines like soft sunlight on a stained glass window.

There is no sugar coating it, in winter it is BC…Bloody Cold. But what better excuse to rug up in your snuggliest clothes and traverse from shop to shop, park to park, red apple cheeked like someone from a 1950’s American TV sitcom? There is much to appreciate. The fine architecture, fabulous food and coffee and great shoes. (Shoes do matter, well, they do to me….)

First stop, Legall Patisserie, this is when I really know we are in Bathurst. Toffee choux, lemon tart and creme brรปlรฉe tart. Naturally, I have no scientific basis for the next claim but this has got to be the best patisserie in Australia. I kid you not. The light choux pastry balls filled with fresh cream and coated in a thin crunchy almost burnt but not, toffee coating almost bring me undone. Served with Fish River coffee, blended locally, this java always has a luscious, smooth mouthfeel and great aftertaste. It ain’t crap people.

Icicles on bench parks and shrubbery, Jack Duggans Irish pub for plates of cockle warming country food the size of a small galaxy and pints of velvety Guinness that make the world a happier place. Duck feeding at the pond, excellent takeaway coffee from Crema or Country Fruit and fat ice creams (yes, children will still eat them, even when it is 9 degrees outside.)

Green leprechaun boots from Gorgeousness, the temple of all things girly and beauiful. The very cool Keppel Street with the marvellous secondhand shop The Naked Bud, op shops and other delightful wee retail outlets worth a squiz at. Artisan handcrafted takeaway pizza from Capers, devoured in the stunning cottage rented by Sister No 4. (We all had serious rental house envy.)

And the shindig itself? Come Saturday evening, we popped our glad rags on and headed off to celebrate. Mr Bagpipes had booked out The Hub, Espresso Bar & Eatery for the entire evening. A charming, partially red wall painted, cosy eatery on the aforementioned Keppell Street. Owned and operated by Mr Ross, a chilled out dude who’s personality is reflected in the happy food and service this wee gem provides.

Family and friends of Mr Bagpipes gathered from near and far in this welcoming space and sipped on sparkling wine whilst snarfling delicious tidbits of canapรฉs. The chilled dinner party atmosphere was framed by the beautiful musicianship of Aaron Hopper and Rob Shannon. Mr Bagpipes surprised us all by banging out a few cool tunes on the bagpipes accompanied by Mr Shannon on the tabla, an Indian drum. The mystic sounds took us to a more ancient time where windy, bagged instruments ran free on stilted legs, shepherded by crazy, wee percussion instruments.

Back to the food. To start, a cauliflower soup served with truffle oil and fine shavings of fresh truffle. Holy fungi! Seriously, one of the most luxurious soups to ever slide down the gob of this greedy Cheergerm. The sweet brassica was highlighted by the hard to describe, earthy taste that is that strange little orb, the truffle. This was followed by tender crusted lamb rack on a bed of kumara mash, a red wine jus and lovely steamed fresh garden vegetables. Vegetarians and the vegetarian Silly Yak dined on a tasty veggie curry. They were well pleased.

Music, warmth, poetry, food, wine and laughter. Hopefully Mr Bagpipe’s heart swelled as his friend piped in the kiwi decorated birthday cake. Celebrations are important, they might not totally erase the darker times but they feed our souls and give us hope for the future.

Enough of that serious malarkey, let’s talk dessert. Adorable piccolos of Fish River Coffee came to the table accompanied by Sister No 2’s amazeballs kiwi covered birthday chocolate stout fruit cake and slices of lemon tart from Legall next door.

Sunday, in party recovery mode, we drove through freezing cold sleet like rain to visit the Beekeepers Inn 20 minutes outside of Bathurst. We enjoyed nice food and coffee along with a great honey tasting station, a myriad of amber honey jars, bee type goodies and gourmet yummy things to peruse. As night fell, we met once again in the enviable cottage rental for great warming Indian curry from Tamarin Indian Restaurant.

Before we took our leave on Monday, we needed to stuff our faces for the last hurrah. Back to The Hub we went. Trunkey Creek triple smoked bacon was the business served with heavenly (give me a hallelujah chorus from the balcony) scrambled eggs that were like tiny little hobbit clouds. A friend devoured chorizo, sweet potato rosti and poached eggs topped with a silky hollandaise sauce that was lemony and not heavy or overpowering as some. A reliable expert on sausages (the Polish stepfather) assured me the fennel and pork sausage with beans was superb. No words left his mouth whilst he chowed down.

So happy birthday Dad, as you traverse into the next decade of your life, may the road rise up to meet you and the melodic drone of bagpipes be the continuing soundtrack to your life.

Bathurst, we will be back.

29 thoughts on “Bathurst and bagpipes

  1. Sure felt like we were there with you at the table. I’ve never hear of cauliflower being used in soup before, due to my sheltered life. Now I’m ravenous, instant coffee and a vegemite & cheese sandwich coming up. Lovely to hear you enjoyed yourself at your Papa’s shindig. It would be a treat to see him playing. My mother’s family came from the Bathurst area. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks so much, I have a recipe for cauliflower soup on this blog. All we need to do is get someone to buy us the truffles! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We had a hoot and it’s such a great wee town. Enjoy your snack. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. troppodon

    This made me cry

    Donald Alexander,LLB (Otago), MA -Communication-Organisational Communication (Charles Sturt), Senior Lecturer, Public Relations and Organisational Communication, Postgraduate Course Coordinator, School of Communication, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst
    02 6338 4031 0405 125 378

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    • It’s a pretty cool and yummy place, yes indeedy. Thanks Mrs France! (I am thinking about toffee choux now and wishing Bathurst was closer than 3 and a half hours….

    • Thanks. The toffee choux pastry really are the business Mrs Moss. I am sure you will be a young 70 in the distant future, that’s where I am headed Anyhoo! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. A hearty happy birthday to your dad! The entire post was perfect start to finish – in fact, so perfect from every angle, I plan to make this the template for all my birthdays to come. Who knows if I’ll make it to 70, but your spectacular weekend and celebration surely made it enticing enough to pretend I’ll be 70 on my next go round.
    And it truly couldn’t be more perfect because you had the bagpipes. My favorite sounds on earth.

    • Thanks Mrs Peak! I am sure you will still be busting some funky moves at a ripe old age. It certainly wasn’t a bad way to celebrate, that’s for sure. Bagpipes, with all of their unearthly melodic drone are really quite amazing. I do remember being a wee bairn and being rather startled when Dad would start practising, but they sure do grow on you!

  4. Beautiful words and what a marvellous love letter to Bathurst. I must admit that I only ever knew about the racing, now I know food like this is in the offering, I think I feel a petrol moment coming on! Legall Patisserie seems like an absolute must…

    • Thanks so much! It really is an understated place and worth a visit. Lovely to stay in town and walk everywhere. What I wouldn’t give for some of that coffee and patisserie and soup and..(will stop there) on this miserable Sydney day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • It’s wet and cold in Melbourne as well today, so I’d definitely go for some of that right now. Or anything tasty and warm that I don’t have to make! We’re definitely going to have to make a weekend trip of it. Thanks!

  5. That was the best thing, as much as I adore cooking and baking, all I made was toast and a sandwich here and there, bliss. I highly recommend it. Keep warm! I grew up in Melbourne and it’s most likely colder than here. I have become an acclimatised Sydney wuss bag! Ha! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. All the food you described sounds delicious! I was drooling the entire post. Bathurst is a cool little town. We were there last Sunday for our nephew’s Christening.

  7. Though all the food sounds totally delish, it’s the thought of those toffee choux buns from which I cannot free my mind. ๐Ÿฉ But thanks to a few thousand miles ๐ŸŒโœˆ and my difficult dietary needs that’s just where they’ll have to stay, harumph! (Wasting away here, could you make a charitable donation of vegan ones!!!! No pressure, Mrs Supercook! ๐Ÿ˜œ)
    So glad you all had a wonderful time in glorious Bathurst โ›ช๐Ÿกโ›ฒwith Mr ‘Birthday ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽ‰ Boy’ Bagpipes. (Does he come complete with kilt?!?)
    And I’m sure you’ll make a young ๐Ÿฃ, (= spring chicken!), 70 old yourself, too, in the long, long distant future – after all, you’re already a young 21!

    • Hello lovely! Adore all your wee emoticons….yes, the toffee choux….to die for but not vegan I am afraid! Have you ever found vegan choux with fillings before? I will have to investigate!! If I come up with a recipe you will have to come visit us to eat them! Mr Bagpipes did wear a kilt and it was a pretty fabulous evening. Oh yes, I think we will all be young 70’s in another 100 years or so. ๐Ÿ™‚ xxxxxxx

  8. Pingback: Back to Bathurst and a spot of Tex-Mex | The Cheergerm & the Silly Yak

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