Editorial: Braidwood

Ryrie Park. Photo: Hannah Neale.
Ryrie Park. Photo: Hannah Neale.

As a child, Braidwood was my much-awaited mid-way stop from Goulburn to Ulladulla. 

My family would cram into our ute, boat hitched to the back, luggage piled high to the roof line and dogs perched upon laps as we made our way down to the coast.

The stop in Braidwood became a ritual.

Legs were stretched in Ryrie Park, tummies filled with chips and gravy at Kings Highway Diner and - most importantly - a stash of treats acquired from The Boiled Lolly. 

On the drive back home, the ritual was the same.

Much to my parents' annoyance, my sister and I would eat slowly, linger in the park and painstakingly select our sweets to prolong our holiday for just a few minutes more.

Often my father, an avid fisherman, would wake us up to have the family on the road hours before sunrise.

Dad's ambition was that you had to get the boat out to sea early, before the fish stopped biting. 

On these occasions, Braidwood was like a lighthouse.

The town guided us towards a hot cup of tea and a bite to eat to prepare us for what lay ahead: the notorious descent of Clyde Mountain.

With a two-tonne boat and more people and animals stuffed into a vehicle than logic would have thought possible, it was always an ordeal.

So, when I was given the opportunity to cover for reporter Robin Tennant-Wood while she went on her own holiday, I jumped on it.

The opportunity to return to Braidwood and not only visit but get under the town's skin appealed to me; to try to give something back to the place that holds some of my fondest childhood memories.

Upon setting foot in this place so enamoured of my childhood, I found that in essence Braidwood had not changed.

I still felt the same bubbling excitement when I caught sight of the shelves filled with containers of pastel-coloured sweets as I had the last time I visited, some 10 years before.

I was introduced to the various places and faces of the town and taken to hip new cafes where hanging plants brushed my head and goldfish swam in an indoor fountain. 

I am excited to be part of this place, even for just a few weeks, as it still seems to me to be lit with magic.