Gourmet food and revhead culture meet in Bathurst

During the week I went to Bathurst for work. In case you don’t know, for one long weekend every year Bathurst is home to Australia’s most famous race. The Bathurst 1,000.

This is an institution among rev-heads and teenage boys in Australia. Holdens –v- Fords, driving round and round Mount Panorama (the same one that was closed when Doc and I drove through Bathurst on our way to Cobar at Easter).  It’s called the Bathurst 1,000 because it’s 1,000k long – which is about 160 laps of the track. It lasts all day long! Rev-head heaven!

But it does give Bathurst a bit of a reputation as a rev-head, bogan town. Not that it really mattered we were only going to be there overnight and then at a conference centre for a seminar all the day, before driving back home.

But of course, things don’t always work out like that. We (work colleague and I) arrived around 7pm. After checking in at the hotel, first stop had to be dinner. The advice from the woman at the motel was to start at the RSL club for a drink (with a free drink voucher), then go to the Irish pub to eat.

I used to hang out in Irish pubs all the time in my early 20s. And I loved it. But I’ve tended to avoid them since. What’s fun in your early 20s is not necessarily fun in your …. (ahem) late 30s.  An Irish pub in a rev-head town didn’t hold much appeal. But there really wasn’t much other choice, and at least we’d be guaranteed to get a drink. So off we went.

Bathurst in May is a rather cool – well, cold. And it feels even colder when you’re walking through dark, empty streets in a place you don’t know. But the lights of the main street weren’t too far away, and the walk was pleasant after 4 hours in the car.

Up at the main road we didn’t know whether to turn left or right. There was no indication of where the pub might be, and very few people on the street. On the basis that we had 50% chance of being right, we turned left. Wrong! So we turned around and walked back the other way.

Jack Duggan’s Irish Pub was halfway down the next block, and looked like a typical country pub from the outside. But then we walked into a warm and very welcoming, wood paneled front bar, with a good selection of local (Orange) wines. But the real surprise was the pub menu – Ma Duggan’s Irish cooking. The menu was typically Irish – steak and Guinness pie, potato stew, etc.

What was even better was that vegetarian dishes weren’t treated like they were something out of the ordinary. There were a few on the menu, mixed in with everything else. I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat. But being in a country pub – and an Irish one at that – on a cold night, the mushroom puff pastry pie with mashed potato and beer battered onion rings was really the only choice. Washed down with a good Orange sauvignon blanc it was heaven!

And it was followed by triple chocolate Kahlua slice with chocolate fairy floss!

It wasn’t Sunday, and wasn’t lunch, but it was a meal and a pub worth writing about.

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