When Rick was young, his family owned a property in Mittagong, which is a small town nestled in the Southern Highlands. The farm was called Eltham Park, and every school holidays, Rick and his family would pack up their belongings and drive down there to stay for two weeks. During the first week, it would just be the five of them: Rick, his two sisters and his parents. In the second week, they would be joined by Uncle John’s family. Sometimes, his grandparents would visit too.
Over the course of our marriage, I’ve loved listening to the stories that Rick has recounted from those carefree days. The one that’s stuck with me the most was about the time when all the kids decided that they wanted to hold a midnight feast. To raise money to buy the food, they held a table tennis tournament and put on a BMX bike show for the adults, who had to pay a dollar or two to watch. They managed to raise sufficient funds to buy some Cool Mints but instead of waiting till midnight, they devoured the lollies at ten o’clock and were in bed by quarter past.
It’s not surprising then, that Mittagong is one of our favourite places to visit when we feel like going for a few hours drive. Indeed, we’ve driven past Eltham Park numerous times with the boys, and I’ve taken countless photos from the main gates. Sometimes Rick and I even joke about buying it one day.
On one of these trips to Mittagong during our recent family holiday, we revisited the Sturt gardens and cafe, which is somewhat of a hidden oasis amidst the farms and the hills. The gardens were as beautiful as ever, and this time, we had three little boys trampling upon the grass, hiding amongst the bushes, marching up and down the ramp to the little white cottage, fighting over the orange butterfly chair and the most fun of all – playing with all the fallen autumn leaves as if they were confetti. As a parent, there really is nothing quite like seeing your own children running around freely and squealing with pure delight at the simplest, smallest things. Nothing much compares to seeing them laughing in sync and enjoying life together. If nothing else, I am proud of this life that Rick and I have created for them: we may not have a farm (yet), but we do have each other.
The cafe at Sturt is quaint, spacious and cosy. The menu is affordable, and the food is good. Rick and I loved our BLTs and the boys thoroughly enjoyed their nuggets and chips (we are very pro-nuggets in this family). Most importantly, they have high chairs and cheap babycinos, so this is definitely somewhere that you can take the kids.
Sturt gardens & cafe
Cnr Range Road & Waverley Parade
Mittagong NSW 2575
Café phone: 02 4860 2086
Do you and your family have a favourite place to visit?