It was time again for another cruise with the car club, and we were pretty eager to see how the baby Beamer was going to handle after its recent steroidal enhancements! Mwahaha! This time the club were meeting north of the bridge in the evening for a cruise around Akuna Bay, a 20 minute loop which takes cars in & out of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
If you’ve never been to Akuna Bay in the evening, the 4 things you really really need are: a good night’s rest (the previous night); a healthy dose of carrots (to enhance your night vision); your GPS (as it’s easy to miss some crucial turns); and high high beams (as it’s literally pitch black out there). But it was a whole lot of fun though! Although you’re cruising at low speeds due to the constant curves, undulations, and several hair-pin turns- but it’s the longest curvy run we’ve ever driven through in NSW (puts Macquarie Pass and Galston Gorge to shame!). During the day time the loop is dotted with cyclists and motor cyclists, but at night it’s definitely a lower risk of running into cyclists (literally and figuratively), and that’s a very good thing for both driver and rider! And you know you’re out of the city limits when you look skywards and you can see brilliant bright stars! So cruisers and star gazers alike, Akuna Bay is ideal for both enthusiasts. *Nods*.
And after a few loops, we were hungry and it was time to push on to the second half of these meets, the dining and socialising part!
20 Grattan Cres, Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 (13Km North of Sydney CBD)
And that’s right! No typo there! We went to the Austrian Club! Located in an out of way ex-Scout hall in leafy Frenchs Forest. What we do like about cultural societies, is that they’re pretty much run by a small team of faithfuls, and on this night it seemed that the Austrian Club had organised a special event (Tiroler Abend) – with a live Oom-pah band and a whole lot of people! (Last year when we came, there were only 3 tables of diners in a hall which could seat over 200). So that was a nice unexpected surprise, but the $15pp cover-charge was less of a pleasant surprise though. Even without the festivities, walking into the Austrian Club already feels like you’re transported to another era and another place! But insert ST Raphael’s Folk Dance Group, and it was like being transported to a beer hall in Salzburg, right down to the Dirndl that the ladies were adorned in (cultural dress).
In terms of food, the menu was abbreviated down to their crowd favourites, Schnitzels, Pork Knuckles (which were sold out), Roast Pork, and I ordered the Austrian-style Goulash- $25, and a 1/2 litre glass of Austrian beer! And boy! Talk about tummy warming hearty food! A Goulash is a stew which in reality was like a thick soup, or a runny gravy sauce (depends if you say tomato or tomato). Swimming in the brown liquid was melted onions, chunks of stewed beef, discs of carrots, and 3 huge bread dumplings! No wonder people in sub-freezing climates are able to get through their bitter long winters, with tummy-warming food like that! The highlight was breaking up the squishy dumplings (they were as large as intact peaches), and working them into the saucy gravy before you popped it and a chunky piece of beef into your mouth! The entire meal was consumed with a metal soup spoon, and although it was a little salty and overwhelming at times, that was a minor problem which a swig of Austrian beer easily solved! And after we had dinner tucked away, we just enjoyed taking in all the dancing (there were a few slap-reddened thighs) and music (featuring a piano accordion). During lulls in the noise we were able to have table conversations with our dining companions about cars; and when the dessert menu went around half of us found second-wind and got stuck into the Austrian desserts (Apple or Berry Strudels). And from all accounts, they were a notch above what you’d usually get elsewhere.
If you have a bit of a sporty car, taking it around Akuna Bay Loop is one of those things you ought to have on a bucket list of things to do! The loop is like our very own version of the famed Nürburgring, the Nürburgring of the South! For directions, just Google the key words “Akuna Bay Loop”.
The Austrian Club can easily be a destination stop for groups, families, or couples on a day out! The Club is only open on Friday evenings, Saturday evenings, and all day Sundays. Check-out their events page if you want to coincide your visit with one of their special functions. Or if you’re just craving a good Austrian/Bavarian meal, and you don’t want one of those easier to access commercialised experiences, check-out the Austrian club! It’s prima authentisch! (For those who have forgotten their Grade 8 German, that means “Super Authentic” in German!)