Gluttonous Adventures in Jindabyne at the Banjo Patterson Inn.
It was a drizzly, cool early autumn day as we road tripped our way from the coast to the gorgeous mountain village of Jindabyne. Up the misty Brown Mountain, across the yellow Monaro, past the massive, spacey looking wind turbines through the quiet little town of Dalgety. The rocky, flat plains of Dalgety and the Monaro start to change and soon the landscape becomes undulating until finally we find ourselves winding our way up a steep hill, obviously leading us to the mountains, the Snowy Mountains.
And suddenly there we are, deep in the heart of mountain country. The first thing you notice as you meander your way through Jindabyne is the lake. Central to the village, the lake sparkles below the mountain range of the Great Divide. Looking directly onto the lake is the Banjo Patterson Inn. The building is large as you would expect a hearty pub to be and it’s made out of local stone and timber. There are a few businesses housed within the walls of the Banjo – there’s the Inn itself with it’s accommodation, bar and dining areas (Clancy’s), there’s the Kosciusko Brewery, and there’s also a night club attached to the Inn as well.
The afternoon is a buzz of chatter and people finishing off their week in a cosy space sheltered from the rain in the Banjo Bar. I’m surprised at how many people fill the space at just after 4 in the afternoon. It’s difficult to get time to chat with Cameron, the owner and licensee, as he works in the bar, a hive of activity, even at this still quite early hour of the day. There’s laughter and happiness and the atmosphere is cosy. There’s a warmth about the place and I feel a sense of home. I can’t say that I’ve felt that feeling very often before in a pub environment. This place is obviously a lot more than a simple pub.
The view out to the lake is majestic and the inn has definitely made the most of the it by placing huge glass panes and windows along the front. Directly through the doors, towards the lake, is a deck where you can soak up the sun and grab some fresh, Alpine air. It’s rainy while I sit sipping my rum and coke inside the bar and it’s comforting to watch the drizzle from indoors. I’m imagining the depths of winter here with that huge fire place sizzling away. Even for a Snowy Mountains pub, I imagine the Inn would be toasty warm and the place to be.
The stonework in the Banjo’s building itself is a key feature to the architecture of the place. Stone is a common building material for many businesses and buildings in Jindabyne. The dark grey, basalt stone work with it’s lighter cement grouting gives the ambiance of an old English pub. Inside the old cornices and door trims have been maintained giving the Banjo that cosy, old feel.
While I wandered around the bar area taking photos and off in my own world, as I tend to be when I’m immersing myself in the story of a new place, I came across a man who seemed very interested in why I was taking photos of the stone work. It turns out that he was the stone mason who had done did a lot of the stone work for the Banjo. Fancy that? I shared how beautifully the stone work blends with the rustic timber and the old wine barrel with it’s burnt engraved words. He then mentioned that he’d been the one to do a lot of the stone work in the Inn and also other local buildings. We chatted about the rockiness of the Jindabyne and Dalgety terrain and how many lovely old stone buildings there are dotted around the place. He shared how toasty and warm he is during the winter months in Jindabyne with his own massive floor to ceiling fire place. Stone is a perfect insulator for these colder climates, thick walls that hold onto the heat for days, possibly the entire winter if the fire is consistently going. We chatted about the perfectly rounded formations of rocks in a particular paddock on the road up here. He mentioned that the Chinese did a lot of work up here, particularly in the gold times, and they would neatly place the rocks scattered throughout the paddocks into perfectly formed, decorative mounds.
Stories connect us with places and the stories of the places connect us with one another.
It didn’t take long for me to feel a connection to Jindabyne through the Banjo Patterson Inn.
And speaking of connection, after I chatted awhile with the local Banjo stone mason I noticed some fresh oysters sitting on a ledge in the bar. The oysters grabbed my attention, being a coastal dweller and all, and I wondered what they were doing so far from home. As I looked around the Banjo I noticed a group of men sharing beer and laughs. Some of them were familiar faces and I realised that Pete and I weren’t the only ones from the Bega Valley visiting Jindabyne. One of the men happened to be a teacher who taught at Bega High while I was there, many moons ago. We got chatting as I photographed a bag of oysters sitting on the ledge and it turns out that these guys were in Jindabyne for a rugby day. The oysters were award winning Wapengo Oysters from our beloved far south coast and the guys brought them up as a nice treat to have with beer over they reminisced about their day of rugby. It felt good to have a touch of the coast, of home, of the sea, up here in the mountains.
Places really do connect us with people. I love that they do. I love that you can be away from home, absorbing the beauty of a different environment, mixing with people who aren’t familiar to you and then all of a sudden you find some familiarity amongst the unknown.
I also love that a place like the Banjo Inn can be somewhere where people can connect. How on earth would I have ever come across that lovely local stone mason? After a cosy night I definitely left the Banjo Inn with a warm heart and a real sense of connection to the pub and to the town of Jindabyne. I love these kinds of gluttonous adventures. I really do.