HIGH COUNTRY

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

 

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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.

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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.

snow8678 snow8689 snow8692 snow8702 snow8752 Falls near Sofala

snow8821This guy thought sticking his head under a rock made him invisible.

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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.

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It was getting dark when we gave up digging so we spent an uncomfortable night camped at thirty degrees.

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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! cutlogsnow9082 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.

snow9112 snow9116 snow9132 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.

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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!

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MALDON AND THE MOUNTAINS

With 5 days up our sleeve before the Maldon Workshop started we decided to slowly plod our way down to Victoria via backroads and out of the way places rather than race down the highway.

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We camped behind the pub in the little town of Goolma, where the publican spun us a great tale about his favourite dog staring down a possum – neither would give in and they both died without ever moving.

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This is the possum

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…and this is the dog

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Foggy morning behind the pub

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We wound our way down onto the Murray River before heading across to Maldon. Great to see the river with so much water and the country in such good condition.

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Julienne, the workshop coordinator in Maldon, arranged for us to stay in this fantastic little farm house – complete with chooks and a veggie garden.

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Maldon is a beautiful little town protected by a heritage listing to preserve the unchanged character of the place.

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The 5 day workshop was a lot of fun. We met some fantastic people and really enjoyed the quiet little country town.

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Melbourne was in the middle of the Spanish Festival in Brunswick and the Polish Festival in the City, so there was a lot happening.

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After a few days in Melbourne we took off towards the Snowy Mountains via the Sale Wetlands…

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…a spectacular series of swamps, creeks and billabongs just out of town – made even more dramatic by the approaching storm clouds.

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From Sale we drove up towards the Snowy River and took the long windy track down to McKillop Bridge.

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The mountains were magnificent and the road signs basic.

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MacKillop Bridge across the Snowy River. First built in 1935 and washed away a few days before it was due to open.

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Mmmm – Jindabyne Steak, 4 minutes each side, Yum.

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Above Charlotte Pass there were still patches of snow on the ground.

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Snow Gums

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Thredbo River

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Platypus in one of the small creeks.

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Stormy night up near Kiandra

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Creek on the Long Plain Road

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Home via Washpool NP.