The B52s sang about the Love Shack being “A little old place where you can get together” and on my way to Adelaide last week I found this little old place where, it seems, plenty of people get together.
The Wallendbeen Snak Shak can be found in a reserve off a large roundabout at the intersection of the Burley Griffin Way and Olympic Highway, in NSW, on the outskirts of the tiny hamlet of Wallendbeen (pop 316). The Burley Griffin Way was taking me from the Hume Highway just south of Yass, through to Griffith via Temora, while Olympic Highway runs from Cowra to Albury, but as it no longer features in this story you can now forget it.
Difficult to miss, the nauseatingly bright pink Wallendbeen Snak Shak – lets drop the town name from now on – is a battered old caravan open seven days from early until late, which seems to do a roaring trade. I roared in about lunchtime and settled on a hamburger with egg and cheese (the latter two extras caused the young lady serving some mathematical angst, until the boss at the hot plates yelled out $7.50 and settled the matter).
I was thankful there was a degree of adaptability to the menu, because extensive it wasn’t, although my expectations weren’t high. Hamburgers, steak sandwiches, egg and bacon rolls, hot dogs, pies (I was strong!) and sausage rolls, plus toasted sandwiches and the obligatory hot chips were on offer and if my custom burger was an indication, the Snak Shak delivers exactly what most patrons would expect: unremarkable fast food. Coffee, tea and cold drinks were also available and next time I might take the sign’s advice and try the Wallendbeen Works Burger. Or maybe not.
What the Snak Shak lacks in culinary adventure and excellence it more than makes up for with character. You can’t help but smile at the hand painted characters like Danny Donut or Charlie Chips, while you wait for your order to appear from behind the hastily-closed flyscreen serving hatch (was it my camera?).
There were a scattering of umbrelled tables and chairs around the Snak Shak, plus picnic tables and a very modern and clean amenities block close by. The reserve also seems to host local markets on a Sunday morning, although many of the stall holders were packing up as I arrived. Clothing, objets d’art, jams, pet collars and old paperbacks were some of the treasures I spied in my quick reconnoiter. I also spied a fundraising sausage sizzle directly across from the Pink Palace, which would have saved me about $5 but wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much fun.
The Wallendbeen Snak Shak is worth a visit just because it’s there and because anyone who’ll stand in an old caravan, cooking, for 16 hours a day come heatwave or snow, deserves our support. And I think publishing a magazine is a tough gig some times...
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