For most Aussies, the high country brings to mind brumbies, snow and beautiful gums. It is all that in the winter, but visiting the high country in the summer is a delight. While the country on the low-lands roasts under the summer sun, the high country enjoys usually mild temps’, winds… albeit that they race, and the beautiful sight of the grand old ladies of the forests shedding their coats for the new season.
I love gum trees, I love their scent, the sight of their myriad of colours and shades. Along with the olive greens that are kinder to the eyes than the bright swathes of green that can be found in England, US or any of the northern hemisphere lands. The olive greens of the Aussie bush are kinder to the eyes even though the light is so much more brilliant. The tones of the bush never fail to invite you to explore, and one day… just one day… I will find somewhere in our travels, the beautiful rainbow gums (eucalyptus deglupta) of the tropic and sub-tropic climate. If anyone knows where there is one of these beautiful gums in Aus’ I would love to know.
I am in seventh heaven at the moment, amongst the gorgeous forest gums, the alpine ash of the high country. In this season they are busily shedding their bark, coating the forest floor with litter, nurturing the land. In Aus’, our trees don’t shed their leaves, instead their bark peels away from the tortured trunks in long sheaves of string and layer. Beneath you will find the often beautiful colours of Autumn and winter in the newly bare trunks of the eucalyptus trees, along with burnt orange, ombré shades of the deep Autumn colour found in the leaves of the magnificent avenues of trees that grace so many the Alpine towns. The Autumn Festival in Bright runs from April 22nd till May 1st with the Gala Day on Sat, April 30th. There are open gardens, at exhibits with evening entertainments. The public music bands, a street parade and market is held on this Gala Day for everyone to enjoy.
What first drew us to the Alpine high country of Victoria in this season was the search for the last of the spring wildflowers. To see long flows of the often delicate alpine flowers was a true delight. The swatches of colour were still scattered about the alpine plains, found in the flowing swathes of summer green on the high country plateau of Victoria. I love the ‘tween seasons, spring an autumn. It is in these seasons that you often uncover the true nature of the places you visit. We plan on returning in the late winter/early spring, to catch the first of the spring growth but for the moment we are exploring the enchanting lands of the bogon moth within the wild range of Ned Kelly.
Most people come this time of year for the hiking and biking and there is plenty of that going on. One stop you must not miss though is the Information Centre at Mount Beauty. This is a great stop and for the bushwalker they have a buggy, man pulled, for the ‘hard to get about’ companion. It is available for ‘no fee’ hire and ideal to share with those companions who are challenged or disabled, so that they too can enjoy the many seasonal walking tracks in the region. Given that they will have an able bodied companion who doesn’t mind towing the dray along the summer alpine tracks. The Information Centre can help with which of the many tracks is most suited to the task.
I loved their representation of our favourite ruffian, Ned Kelly. Here he had a suit of bark instead of the traditional armour. They say it offered better concealment amongst the forests of the region and you have to credit them with some imagination.
It is a wonderful place of tongue twisting names like Porepunkah, Whorouly, and Yackandandah. It was at Tangambalanga that the remanent of the old tribal people were gathered, decimated by westerner diseases and violence as they were. Here they came under the authority of the Aboriginal Protectorate body. Today they live scattered throughout the towns, as do so many countryside Australians.
Strange to see though was the ghostly silhouette of the great white gums against the forests, remanent of the mighty bushfires of 2002-6, which scorched the undergrowth establishing itself after the epic bushfires of these years. These gums are now struggling in the swathes of land where the fires swept and it will be many years before the alpine ash forests claim back their own in their full glory.
It’s a beautiful, yet sometimes cruel land, but it’s one that I never fail to be enchanted with.
An author and writer, Jan has studied Aboriginal culture for most of her life. Interpreting this ancient Lore into contemporary stories takes you deep into the mysteries of a forgotten way of life.
You can find out more about her tales in the Stories of The Dreaming Series.