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Binalong Chef

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Irish-born chef, Tom Duffy, developed his love of cooking when he was seven, just by watching others. By the age of 10, he started cooking shortbread and assisting his mother with Sunday dinners. In his teenage years, Tom started working at Irish restaurants and eventually moved to Australia in 1968.

After a stint in Sydney, he moved to Canberra as resident chef at Parliament House. Many of the politicians who savoured his food there make the trip to Binalong to again enjoy Tom's creations.

Tom and his wife opened a restaurant in Binalong in 1975 and eventually opened the motel next door. He has won many titles over the years, and says the secret to his success is caring about all of his customers and having pride in his work.

People travel far and wide to eat at the 3½ star Royal Tara Motel. They don't need to advertise — their reputation is spread purely by word of mouth. It's open seven days a week and seats up to 50 people.

The little historic village of Binalong is surrounded by wooded hills and is home to just 250 people.

In its early days, Binalong was a major stopping place for Cobb and Co coaches. The railway arrived in 1876 and it then became a departure point for gold shipments from Lambing Flat.

In 1821 explorer Hamilton Hume and his party became the first known group of Europeans to visit the area. He returned with William Hovell in 1824 and subsequent settlers arrived with flocks of sheep, marking the beginning of the local wool industry. Prior to that there was a large Aboriginal population and it is believed the town's name is derived from either Bennelong, a noted Aborigine, or their word for "towards a high place".

Ben Hall and his gang of bushrangers harried the area throughout 1863 and 1864 where they robbed travellers, stores and mail coaches. The grave of Johnny Gilbert who was killed in a gunfight on the Boorowa Road can be seen on the town's outskirts.

One of Australia's most loved poets, AB ''Banjo'' Paterson, moved there with his family in 1869. He attended school at Binalong but eventually went to boarding school in Sydney. He spent summer holidays in Binalong, and those times influenced and featured in his works.

The town has some interesting buildings including the Cobb and Co Inn, police station and courthouse, local bluestone Mechanics Institute and Old Railway station, and St Thomas and St Patrick's churches.

Location

320 kilometres south-west of Sydney.

Cost

Royal Tara Motel Restaurant opens every day at 6.30pm. Entrees start at around $12, main meals $18 and desserts from $7.50.

For more information

The Royal Tara Motel Binalong
Stephen Street
Binalong 2584
Ph: (02) 6227 4310
Fax: (02) 6227 4323
Website: http://au.geocities.com/motelroyaltara/

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