Where the bloody hell is BOURKE?
When author Henry Lawson came to Bourke, he claimed, ‘If you know Bourke, you know Australia.‘ Well, that was back in 1893 when he said that, but Bourke has changed a lot since. Nonetheless, Bourke is still considered as the gateway to the real outback of Australia till these days.
I went to Bourke over the weekend and it was my first real Australia outback experience. The town is small, a population of 2500 with 25% aborigines. I’ve been warned that the town can be rough if I am not careful and step into the wrong area.
When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, surprisingly it is almost like a ghost town. We’ve been warned that we better be quick for the last chance to grab something for lunch before the shops shut. We rushed to the the one and only award winning Morrall’s Bakery & Cafe in town, and unfortunately it is already shut. So we ended up at the Oxford Hotel, and placed in the last order before the kitchen close.
Food in Bourke is very limited and not something to rave about. There is the pub food at Oxford Hotel, a bakery, two take-away joints with one adhered to the petrol station, a Chinese restaurant in the Bowling Club, and then there is the food hall at RSL club. We ended up having “Chinese” in a small town like Bourke. (“Gasp!”, I can hear everyone gasping in shock!) As good as a small town could offer, with a menu of choosing meat, then the choice of sauces; with a lost in translation when the waiter started listing out all the ingredients in a mix vege combinations when we asked whether they have any simple vegetable dishes like Choy Sum in oyster sauce… I guess not. Nevertheless, it was a decent meal, with the Szechuan Beef at a surprisingly fiery hot tongue-burning scale level.
The next morning, I went out for a morning photoshoot around town and caught up with two aborigines and had a chat. I had trouble understanding what they’re trying to say and vice versa, but I figured they’d been hanging out at the lock weir with few booze, and now going to catch some snakes and other wildlife for food in aboriginal language which I had no idea what they are.
Despite the average food scene in Bourke, I actually did find something good to share with everyone. It is the Rice’s Splashe Cola, produced locally at the Back ‘O’ Bourke. Rice does not just produced the Splashe Cola drink, there is a wide range of varieties to choose from including Cream Soda, Lemon Squash, Pineapple, and even Mint!
The Splashe Cola is very sweet and syrupy. It has a strong Sarsprilla flavour to it, my favorite! The Splashe Cola reminded us just like how Coca-Cola used to make them back in those days. We also tasted the Pineapple and the Mint flavored cola. The first taste of Mint cola seems bit strange, like a drinkable mouth wash but it is slowly growing on me.
Unfortunately, the syrupy soft drink plus a 36C degree weather in the outback don’t mix. I felt more thirsty than ever and the good ole water was my best friend after all.
If you ever get a chance to be in Bourke, make sure go and get yourself a bottle of the Rice’s Splashe Cola, and let it takes you back on a nostalgic journey right from the first drop touches your lips.
More information about Bourke: NSW Tourism - http://www.visitnsw.com/town/Bourke.aspx Visit Bourke - http://www.visitbourke.com/ SMH Article - http://www.smh.com.au/news/New-South-Wales/Bourke/2005/02/17/1108500192829.html