I camped up in this country a couple of years ago with my son and his partner. We drove up from Canberra and through the rolling landscape in the middle of summer. The grass was long and glistened in the wind as we drove by. In the distance, the hills took on a blueish tinge and the tarmac shimmered in the heat of the day. We stopped off at one of two slab timber huts that was built around the beginning of the twentieth century; a lonesome looking place where it’s the owner, a man named David Bradshaw, had lived alone for some twenty-eight years before succumbing to the elements at the ripe old age of seventy-nine
We pitched our tents high on a ridge above one of the many lakes that have been formed to provide water to the Snowy River Hydro Scheme. These are deep and cold and are stocked with trout from the trout hatcheries in the area. Clearly a draw for the many fly and spin fishermen keen to get away for a few days of fishing
Plants at this altitude suffer from the harsh conditions that they face all year round; in winter it is snow and ice while the summer brings high temperatures and little rain. As a result, the shrubs are scrubby low growing woody things and the trees that do grow here often have that tortured shape crafted by the wind and cold. Here in the national park the grasses had dried out and gone to seed. It seemed shorter than that which can be seen blowing in the wind as one drove up the Monaro Hiway. Lichens grow well in this climate, clinging as they do to a range of hosts from rocks to tree branches.
I woke early after a sleep interrupted by a squalling storm that threatened to flatten my tent, despite being tucked among large boulders. The sun had come up watery but soon had burned off any effects of the night before and the warmth was pleasant on my back as I took a walk around the hills behind the camp. It seems that the animal life that can be seen up here was made up of those that had been introduced as the only other species I saw was rabbits. Again these little guys have made the most of the wild country and have established large warrens all about the banks and mounds.
A flock of Yellow Crested Cockatoos, with their raucous calls, were checking out the ground for some early morning sustenance. As I came close they flew off with even louder calls as if in the indignation of my presence.
I came across several brumbies as I made my way across the hills. I also discovered a crisscrossing of trails all over the hills where the brumbies had created single file bare-earth tracks as they made their way to and from their favoured feeding grounds