52 Journeys, Australia: No 1, Brumbies | Snowy Mountains, Part 2

by | Nov 28, 2018 | 52 Journeys, Beautiful beasts

Alt Text

Call me crazy but just one week after my first visit to see the brumbies in the Snowy Mountains, I headed back. What was even crazier was the time frame – I had only a weekend to do it, driving six hours each day there and back. Why? I’d been bitten, well and truly, by something far more powerful than any critter – obsession. I was smitten with the high country and the brumbies, and was desperate to go back. This time Coco stayed put and I took a willing friend instead, an artist who was keen to see the landscape for herself.

We left Sydney at 8am on a Saturday to arrive just in time for lunch at a pub in Jugiong, half an hour before Gundagai, called The Sir George. Again I had a National Parks and Wildlife guide to thank for the recommendation – “They’ve just got it right, it’s worth stopping for”, the guide had said.

And she was right. I met one of the owners, Kim, who together with his partner and her daughter, has given the old pub a new lease of life, as well as German chef, Sebastian, who has the best tattoo ever for a cookie and some amazing skills in the kitchen – the food is really good.

The Sir George has been given the royal treatment by Kim and his partner

Sebastian and his chef tattoo

Aside from Kim and Sebastian, I also met baby Arlo and his parents at The Sir George. They moved from Sydney to Wagga Wagga a few years ago, to enjoy the benefits regional centres offer. Tree and sea change intrigue me (I don’t think I could ever do it but I can see the appeal). Apparently internal migration to regional NSW, Victoria and Queensland is at its highest in 10 years, which isn’t surprising considering the cost of living in Australia’s major cities. Anyway, turns out Arlo’s mum, Amelia, is a 52 Suburbs fan! Small world.

built in 1845, brought back to life in 2016

baby Arlo and his mum

Kim and his goats

those eyes

After lunch we hightailed it up the mountain only to find ourselves shrouded in freezing swirls of mist and cloud. Having endured a huge storm that morning and without any shelter to retreat to, the brumbies were soaked through. If this was spring, how tough must winter be? It made me wonder at the brumbies ability to survive such an extreme environment.

white out

after the storm

moody mountains

mane man

please don’t go near the road little wallaby/kangaroo

where the wild things grow

The next day the high country was bathed in full sunshine, which for photography is never great – sunlight is good at the very beginning and end of the day when the light is softer but for a large proportion of the time it’s too harsh. So when I spied a horse carriage parked by the side of the highway around midday, I was half thinking I wouldn’t bother stopping – but I wanted to know what it was like to ride in the park, both for horse and rider, with wild horses around. As harsh as the light was, I managed to photograph Tom and his wife Sue by exposing for their faces and blowing the backgrounds out.

They were up for the day from Tumut to enjoy the freedom of  riding without gates everywhere in Kosciusko National Park. We only spent about half an hour together but I loved meeting these guys. Tom, who works as a manager on a farm, exudes calm and it was obvious by the gentle way he treated Missy that he has a deep love and respect for horses, wild or otherwise.

And what was it like riding among wild horses? No problem, Tom said,  they were curious about one another but that was about it.

Tom and Missy. “We love the freedom of riding up here.”

“She’s a real sook, she’d fall asleep in my arms.”

carefree vs cared for

Of course Kosciusko National Park also attracts people who have nothing to do with horses, such as bike riders and fly fishers.

long distance cyclists, Caroline and Chris

they must be fit to get up these hills

and fly fishers too

With a six hour drive ahead of us, we left the high country around 2.30pm, stopping only to refuel at Gundagai.

I’m guessing long gone

main drag of Gundagai

old Gundagai

It had been a ridiculously brief trip – I wouldn’t recommend anything less than three days if you’re coming from Sydney – and I left knowing that wouldn’t be my last journey to the Snowies.