Wombat, a town with a population of 120, settled in 1865, is on the southwest slopes of New South Wales. There are a couple of theories as to how it came by its name.
One is simply that it was named after the furry little marsupial. Another is that after the goldrush, there were so many mounds and holes left by diggers, the area looked as though it had been the home of many wombats. Strangely enough, locals swear there has never been a wombat sighted in the wild.
The little town has a general store/community mail centre, a hall, clubhouse, tennis courts, recreation areas, hotel and school. Despite only having an enrolment of around 30 pupils, they manage to put on plays, the most recent being Shrek 3: The Wombat Disaster. The hotel has New South Wales' longest continuous liquor licence, granted in 1877. The present building, though, wasn't constructed until 1903.
Standing proudly at the entry to town is a sculpture of a wombat measuring around 50cm in height. The lovely story about how it came into being involves an English tourist who enjoyed his visit so much, he donated funds for the sculpture, which was unveiled in 2002. Much work went into achieving a realistic sculpture crafted from locally sourced rock.
Wombat is a place with a great sense of humour. Visitors are always taken with the roadside sign saying 'For Sale: Wombat Bum Nuts'. What they are selling are actually free-range hen eggs from Robert and Helen Thaine's property, Woodhaven, sold on an honour system.
The Old Convent Geranium Nursery has endless varieties and colours of geraniums, including miniatures, variegated, climbing and scented plants. They also sell one-off pieces of pottery created by owner Jill Flynn.
Cherry time attracts visitors to Wombat. There's something about picking your own fruit to take home. As well as cherries, they grow some pretty impressive plums, peaches and other stone fruit. Other crops include wheat and canola and wine growing is becoming increasingly popular.
Wombat Heights is a farm on a hill owned by Kerry and Stephen Eastlake. They make jam, fruit wine and liqueurs from traditional recipes and if visitors are prepared to do-it-themselves, they are rewarded with a delightful array of fresh fruit. Visiting times are from mid-November to the end of January, from dawn to dusk.
The enterprising family has also taken over Wilkies Cottage Restaurant. The iron-roofed building houses the restaurant and a separate bar and is air-conditioned, with a wood heater for cooler months. They use local fruit, vegetables and meat in generous servings of traditional Australian food with a modern slant, some with Italian or French influence. Diners can choose local wine to accompany their meal.
Wombat also has its own 'hubcap man', Norm Patterson. Norm provides a cheaper alternative for restoration or replacement of a lost hubcap. If you've lost it, Norm's got it! He has around 1000 second-hand hubcaps and is open all day, every day.