A perfect weekend escape for Sydney-siders who want a change of pace after a busy week of go, go, and go of the Sydney rat-race.
Picton is a town located 91Km South-West of Sydney CBD via the Hume Motorway, the most common way to get out to the sprawling expanses of P-town is by car (roughly an hour and 10 minute drive using the Hume Motorway). But for us, we used a more circuitous route today to get to Picton.
Aside from my interests of Food & Drink, audio entertainment, and exploring our fair city, an enduring interest of mine are cars. Not all shapes and sizes, not all makes and models, not all vehicles 4 wheeled or two-ed, but specifically…sports cars! So to meet other like-minded individuals, naturally my mate and I are involved with a sports car club and today was the first gathering for 2019- a cruise from Penrith to Picton for Go Karts, before a nice pub lunch at the historic George IV Inn.
What I personally love about this sports car club, is the fact that the start and end of each cruise is book-ended by food & drink! *Thumbs-up*. To jump-start the morning, the club met-up at the once bustling Krispy Kreme Sydney HQ store located in Penrith. Remember those days of late night drives with mates to Penrith KK? At the time, the one and only KK store which was open for like 24 hours a day (at least it felt like it) serving up their glazed melt-in-your-mouth original donuts. Mmmm. Remember lining-up for upwards of 45 minutes at midnight, shuffling past the glass wall where you could see the donuts being made, smelling all the sweet aromas of melting sugar…….. OMG! And when you finally reached the head of the line, ordering 1 or 2 boxes of the 12 original donuts, and another box or 2 of the assorted mixed donuts, justifying your purchases because your roommates/parents/siblings/grandparents would need to eat as well! Right? Do you remember those days? When we were more innocent, when we knew that donuts were probably bad for us, but we’d still consumed them. Well, that was all before we decided that we were too healthy for soft-drinks, fast-food, full sugar bubble tea, and of course too healthy for the Krispy Kreme donut. Boo! So as unbelievable as this sounds, but that original Krispy Kreme store in Penrith is still trading, but it’s a far cry from what it used to be, today there were only a few patrons- a couple of mum’s catching-up over coffee (pretty sure no donuts in front of them) and then a group of guys with their sports cars rocked-up. Haaha. But as our fellow car club members rolled in, after saying our ‘hi, how ya doin’, they too went next door for a more healthy breakfast option- McDonalds. *Shrugs*.
But after hanging-out at a long table for more than a dozen, with our Krispy Kreme coffees and giving adequate time for those who always rock-up late – in a convoy of 9 sports cars we headed off on a 60 minute south-bound cruise to Picton, where we had a date with an open air track, an unlimited speed limit, but with a kart that didn’t go beyond 70km/h.
62 Km down Silverdale Road connects the West to the South-West, (on paved, not the smoothest of roads), which at points reached speeds which you’d never dream to reach in Sydney suburbia; we had a chance to stretch our sports cars legs, allow our engines to breathe in the fresh country air and clear their throaty exhausts. We cruised past bushland, farms, and with only 1 speed bump, and 2 roundabouts along the way to encourage us to slow down, all too soon we had reached Picton, the outer limits of sprawling Sydney.
A characteristic of this particular sports car club, is the fact that a number of members are keen Go Karters! So when the opportunity arises, we incorporate a car cruise in-line with track and Go Kart availability.
Picton Karting Track- 200 Picton Road Illawarra
We elected ‘Arrive and Drive’, where you just show-up and you and your group are assigned to the next available group of people who are going out on track. Today’s wait was only 20 mins long and after paying $70 for 2x 15 minute sessions (+$10 License fee which is valid for 12 months) we were on-track and pushing the little Go karts as hard as they could go on little 6 inch tyres- the chassis, engine, human combo reaching up-to 70Km/h on the back straight.
After expending enough adrenaline to leave us worn-out, muscles aching, sweaty and hungry, we came in after our cool down lap and compared lap times. The quickness of a Karter is dependent on the inter-play between 3 variables – the height/weight of the individual; the set-up and maintenance history of the kart; and the Driver’s natural feel for manoeuvring a 4 wheeled vehicle around curves and corners. So understandably lap-times were varied and reflected these critical attributes, the fast will always be fast, while the slower guys will ……. Well, putting it nicely, could benefit from more practice laps and the jettison of any excess weight? Jks Jks. But everyone enjoyed themselves regardless of their standings, and with the need for speed and excitement met, the next need to be met on Maslow’s pyramid of needs, was drink and food! In that order!
George IV Inn- 180 Argyle Street, Picton
And heading back to the town’s centre, we located the historical George IV Inn- and parked our pride and joys in a spacious car park (parking is hard to come by along the main drag of Picton), but this lot was a short short walk from the Inn. The big George is a rambling single story estate, said to be one of the oldest hotels in Australia (built in 1819- Wow! It’s 200 years old this year!); but it definitely didn’t look its age- methinks an extensive renovation occurred recently as everything looked and felt new, the place was gloriously cool, AC blowing out strong to keep diners comfortable (rainy in Sydney today, but sunny with some clouds and top of 23 in Picton). The Bistro had an extensive menu, with the usual pub favourites, but on-top of those staples, there was an extensive grill menu, a more gourmet listing, Chef’s recommendations, and a list of pizzas. I think since we’ve started this blog, we still haven’t had pizzas, so craving something cheesy, I ordered the ‘Big George Pizza’, while the others ordered all different sorts of stuff, from steaks to seafood pastas, vegetarian dishes to burgers. And way before putting in our food orders, we grabbed our drinks (as I had mentioned it was higher on the priority list than the food), so as we chatted with the guys and their partners (sports cars and go karts isn’t just a dude’s thing, but many guys bring their significant others), we sipped on our refreshing IPAs (surprisingly bitter though).
When the food arrived (all at the same time- pretty impressive considering there were 10 of us with food with wide ranging cook-times), we all tucked in, and my Big George wasn’t just big by name, it was BIG! It had 3 types of meat on it from spicy salami to grilled chicken pieces, with a nice thick, yet thin pizza crust. And you know when it’s just the right thickness when the centre of the pizza isn’t all limp and soggy, but soft while still able to keep its pointy tip when picked-up. And since we had an early start and had skipped breakfast- oh yeah! The pizza hit the spot! But like I said, it was a Big boy, so after 2 slices I was already offering to others to take a slice if they wanted; and after 4 slices I was done, really done (and there were still another 4 slices left!). So for $24 (not bad for country-town pub prices) I was filled and I even had pizza to go (fed us tonight as well!).
And after chatting for another 30 mins, sadly all good things must come to an end and we said our farewells in the car park (dudes checking out each other’s rides), and we made the trek back to Sydney- up the Hume Motorway and didn’t stop at a single traffic light until we reached Zetland! Which is 50 mins into a 70 min drive, not a bad run hey?
This time we didn’t get much of a chance to check-out all that Picton has to offer, but if you came out here with the family, there is so much to see and do! Picton is a well preserved historic town. There is a 29 stop self-guided walking tour which can guide your visit; pick-up a map from the Wollondilly Visitor Information Centre (look for the old Post Office with the clock-tower). Allow the self-guided tour to take you on a stroll to the original Picton Court House (built in 1864); Post Office with historic clock tower (1892); Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Building (1885); St Marks Anglican Church (1857); and of course the historic George IV Inn (1819), to name a few stops along the way.
If you’re an active soul, you’ll love the Picton Botanical Gardens with 9Km of cycling and walking tracks through the landscape gardens- giving visitors a brilliant view of the surrounding vistas and there is an amusing bottlebrush maze for the kids to get lost in.
And if your kids love Thomas and trains in general, a bit further out from Picton is Trainworks, located in Thirlmere. Claiming to be the oldest and the largest train museum, (yes you read right, the oldest and the largest!) it boasts of many historic trains, and it marries the old with the new- the exhibits come to life with 3D holograms of people who used to work on the trains, telling their story and explaining the workings of the locomotives. Pretty cool hey!? Open 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm on the weekends.
For more information about the area and things to see and do in Picton visit this great web-site!
And of course there is Picton’s main street, including a variety of gift shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs. For a listing of all the things to see and do in the Wollondilly shire, check out this link:
Can you spend an entire day in Picton and surrounds? Heck yeah! There is so much to see and do! You could stay the night and spend an entire weekend out here! Or alternatively, come back on several different weekend day trips, for kids who fall asleep as soon as they get into the car, the 70 min car trip is idyllic!! I can’t recommend more highly the virtues of the W-shire!! Like most outdoor heavy destinations, visiting either in early autumn or late spring would be ideal. And if you’re into cars like me, replicating our cruise from Penrith to Picton via Silverdale Rd is also an idea which you can add to your list of potential weekend activities. Not to mention, as it’s becoming more and more popular to have ‘Walking’ meetings with colleagues, a ‘Driving’ catch-up with mates is pretty cool as well! In each of our hour-long point to point stretches from CBD to Penrith; Penrith to Picton; Picton back to the city, the time passed so quickly as my mate and I chatted all the way.
P.S. Apologies for the lack of photos, today was a spousal free-day, so unfortunately my wife’s photography prowess wasn’t on hand to add colour to this otherwise drab post.