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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

The Don and I


I've been to Australia twice.  My daughter lives there (near Sydney).  In fact she is officially Australian, having passed the exam and been awarded a toy Koala.   Did you know that the bird emblem of Oz is a Cassowary, not an Emu?  Worth remembering if you ever take the exam.

Anyway, I've seen the bridge, the opera house and been to Bondi (which is a lot like Southend).  It was not until too late on my first trip that I noticed, while looking at the train map, that Bowral is only about an hour from Sydney.  Luckily I made a second trip in 2018 and Bowral was top of my bucket list.  Indeed, it was the only item on said list.

My wife, who was with me on the second trip, had popped off to Cairns (it's only a thousand or so miles away) to see a friend.  I struggle with the heat so the tropical climate of North Queensland does not suit me.   Indeed, 20oC is really my limit.  I was in Kingston Jamaica, once, in a January, some year in the last century and between 10am and 6pm was hors de combat, heat wise.

This was my chance, however.  Breakout to Bowral was on!

Once clear of the Sydney sprawl, the countryside is very English (well, East Anglian).  The train I got on stopped at every station.   Think of The Railway Children film and you can imagine the style of the stations, although the information boards and the trains are high tech.  I changed trains somewhere but I can't remember what the station was called.   It had a name like Woolongong but wasn't (because that's somewhere else).

Andrew Appleby with Don Bradman

At Bowral Station one might half expect to see Jenny Agutter (or Kylie Minogue).  I was trying to think how to describe Bowral and thinking of the picket fences of The Waltons (not Walton-on-the-Naze) but actually Erinsborough (as in Neighbours, the TV series) is close (but Bowral has more picket fences).  The town is set out like a cricket field mowed with cross cuts i.e. lots of squares.   I followed the signs and turned right, left, right again and there it was. The Bradman Oval; as pretty as any ground you might ever see.

Next to the ground is the Bradman Museum and opposite is the house the Bradmans built.  It's a relatively small museum (about as big as the ground floor of the Chelmsford Pavilion) but well presented, with videos, information boards and various cricket paraphernalia.  Having read a lot about Bradman over the years I knew most of the history and for me it was more a case of walking where He walked.

I managed to enthuse my wife and daughter sufficiently for my daughter to drive us all to Bowral a few days later.  They were impressed, particularly with the surrounding countryside but also with Bowral and the Oval itself.   While they had the fish crouton option in the cafe by the Museum, I opted for the Bradman burger, which was above average as you'd expect.  I'd give it 99.94!

Incidentally, the Bradmans come from Withersfield, not far North-West of Chelmsford.  There's a Bradman Arms pub.  I've not been there.  Well, it's a bit far to go!

Andrew Appleby