Daily Archives: January 21, 2011
|First stop in Kosciusko National Park, en route up to Thredbo. Wet.|
This post I dedicate to Tileri, manager of the Dollar Street Gallery in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK. Tileri has been something of a rock throughout the initial stages of this book and continues to be my confidant and assistant back on Planet Earth. Encouragement and enthusiasm all the way, her latest correspondence was an urgent request to hear my stories of finding wild brumbies… So, to you Tileri, I write this!
As you know, in 1998 I worked on Tom Groggin Station in the Snowy Mountains in Australia, riding into the hills for days at a time, camping out under the stars, zigzagging through the Murray River on horseback, chasing herds of kangaroo and emu, drinking stubbies with the boys around the campfire by night. Footloose and fancy free was my (temporary) life as a Jillaroo. I never fully recovered (in a good way) and consequently, to return to the Snowy Mountains meant a lot more than simply revisiting a beautiful place.
|Views across the Snowy Mountains from Dead Horse Gap.|
|Reveling in success of having found the brumbies. Note ‘wild’ brumbies in the background!|
We left Araluen, NSW, having awoken under stars and within swag, and headed toward Kosciusko National Park. We had another brumby adventure in Araluen, but that is for another story and was less successful but equally as magical.
A few hours’ drive brought us into the park, rain thrashing and wind howling. Quite atmospheric. We stopped in Thredbo, one of Australia’s leading ski resorts, and hung out at some bars listening to blues – we arrived during their annual Blues Festival. We planned an early hike up into the hills to try our luck at stumbling across some horses, and laid our heads to rest in our trusty Toyota, at the base of the mountain we were to hike the next day. Finally, a beautiful day…we awoke to crystal clear skies and chirping birds and so sprung to action as we prepared to hike through Dead Horse Gap up to the peaks. The only problem was the bridge had been recently washed away in the floods, so (much to Robin’s initial dismay), shoes were off, cameras were overhead, and we were wading cautiously through icy waters. It was so incredibly beautiful and of course no one was around. Most use the chairlift from Thredbo to the peak and walk the opposite way around, so we were in peace in the wilderness with the birds and bees AND the brumbies.
|All the talk of wild horses and sightings we actually didn’t really expect to see any, but suddenly, we had been walking about half an hour when we came to the crest of this hill and there they were…I stopped breathing as I had sighted a small group of brumbies just a few feet away from me, eating breakfast. I mean, these animals are meant to be flighty but this little mare just stood and chomped dewy grass in amongst the thick bush. We stopped and stalked…and then saw two, three, four, five… jackpot! But they didn’t run, I don’t know why, but we must have stood watching them for ten or fifteen minutes before we heard women yakking loudly from up the path. The horses didn’t actually seem to care, but we decided to make tracks and head up the mountain to ogle at the views and stretch our legs properly. I still can’t believe that we found those horses there.|
The day’s luck continued…we continued on through the park, and my heart started to race as the landscape became even more familiar…. I knew we were close to Tom Groggin and then, there it was! I couldn’t NOT go in, so we confidently bumbled up the winding drive and pulled up at the homestead where thirteen years before I called ‘home’. Trevor, farm manager, graciously dealt with our intrusion and was quick to inform us about the small herd of brumbies that had been rehomed to Tom Groggin. They were living there and being left in peace as though in the wild, and their offspring were being rehomed to families – population control. So, he took us on a tour of the property to try to find them…they were skittish and wild in comparison to the ones we had found early the same morning, and it took us about half an hour to even track them down, and another twenty minutes of bramble-bashing to get within shooting range. They were beautiful. Robin and I got out of the 4WD and stalked up the hill, and we heard stallion snort and stampeding hooves…in the opposite direction! I wanted to be on horseback so much!
A surreal day, all in all, and we left there somewhat numb from the experiences. Then we drove a very, very long way to Melbourne.
|On top of the world.|
|Returning to Tom Groggin. I do believe we were being hounded by horseflies when I took this!|
|Here we are.|
|Trevor taking us out 4WD’ing to locate brumbies and trample blackberry bushes.|