Sometimes things just fall into place. Soon after agreeing to a workshop with the ASOC in Canberra, I received an email inviting me to a Canberra High School reunion – 5 days before the workshop.
Catching up with school friends from 45 years ago was amazing. Appearances had changed but personalities were just as they were way back then.
After the workshop and reunion we headed over the mountains west of Canberra and down to the high country and Kosciuszko National Park
Driving down the New England Highway there are some very prosperous towns and others in slow decline. Back when these towns were established, being a days ride from the next town guaranteed their future. Today they are quickly passed through and forgotten. Here are the remnants of a few of them.
Coolah Tops is a great National Park with sweeping views across the Liverpool Plains. I have never seen the country so green and cant believe the government would consider allowing a coal mine in, what must be some of the worlds best agricultural land.
This guy thought sticking his head under a rock made him invisible.
We left Canberra and headed out through Brindabella to join the top end of the Long Plain Road. We were told the road was closed in winter due to snow, then re opened each October.
We drove in to find a locked gate leading to the National Park. As we were about to drive back a farmer, whose property the road runs through, turned up. After chatting for a while we were about to head off and drive the long way around when he kindly offered to unlock the gate and let us through.
Twenty kilometres down the track we were stopped by a fallen tree. Not being able to go back through the locked gate and unable to move the tree, our only option was to somehow get over it.
We built long ramps of logs and rocks to give us plenty of clearance. Unfortunately, as we descended the ramp the right hand front wheel sunk into the soft ground, hanging us up on the log. After four hours of jacking, packing and digging, all we managed to do was sink deeper into the soft ground.
It was getting dark when we gave up digging so we spent an uncomfortable night camped at thirty degrees.
The ground was too soft for us to lift the heavy truck so, in the morning, we contacted the National Park Office by satellite phone and explained our situation. They were fantastic and had a ranger up there with a chainsaw within a couple of hours.
As it turned out, National Parks were sending a tractor up to clear any fallen trees later that day. If only we had known. We could have saved 4 hours of hard work and camped on level ground! Coolamine Homestead was built in the late 1800’s when they used to run horses and cattle in the high country.
Today the cattle have all but disappeared but wild brumbies are breeding up.
I spotted this mare laying on the ground way off in the bush above the plains. When I walked up I discovered she had died giving birth. Her head was resting on a log and her eyes were still open, looking out across the plains.
The Kosciuszko High country is stark and beautiful, and the weather always unpredictable. Overnight temperatures were below freezing and, in spite of the sun, seven or eight degrees was as warm as the days would get – and this was late spring!
Wonderful ! I felt as though I was there again
Beautiful photos John
Your images are striking individually — but in aggregate they are simply overwhelming. Gorgeous work! Thank you for taking me along on your adventure.
PS: The image of the dead mare really struck a chord. Did her foal at least survive?
Unfortunately the foal didn’t survive. It was a horrible sight – a stark contrast to the peaceful appearance of the mare.
Poor little thing. Its chances were slim anyway without its mother, unless another mare had been willing to take it in. Isn’t sad how hard nature can be on the little things sometimes …
Great pictures. >
Love your eye, always interesting, great adventure!
Unbelieveable stunnig photos as per usual. You did this country proud with your sharp eye and knowledge of colour. Loved The Arcadia picture show and the old truck reminded me of my school bus in Lae New Guinea 1956. The horses and huts were stunning.
lovely photos as usual….any painting to show…..nice to see that you enjoy your travels
Cheers Anki & Bob
Great photos. I love the old buildings. There were heroic efforts to construct majestic buildings in early Australia. Sadly most of them get bulldozed down without even a dying whimper. And forgotten. Melbourne has an old suburban movie theatre that has been retro fitted with even the same carpet with flowers that it had when I was a child. Almost cried when I saw that. Your photos, where ever you take us, are an inspiration.
Absolutely Amazing! Your photos and words allow me to experience a part of the world I may never have the chance to visit. What a gift! On a side note – I recently watched Man from Snowy River, one of my favorite movies. Your post brought back memories of that beautiful movie. I did not realize they no longer ran cattle in the high country.
John, I shared your post with a friend from Adelaide. She hiked the high country when she was 15 and explained why the government had banned running cattle in this area and that they were slowly lowering the number of brumbies. She was fascinated by your post! Thank you again for sharing.