Zachary Sabbatical - 2006/2007 travel blog

Heading into the Snowy Mountains

Red gum trees

Checking-out the Thredbo ski area

Low clouds dashed all hope of seeing Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest...

Peering through the misty woods in hopes of seeing brumbies

"The Man From Snowy River" legend lives on!"

Mountain view from Ross and Noelene's cattle ranch

Jo and her dogs (Toby, the stuffed one, traveled with us through...

"Just ask for directions at the general store" directed Jo, "they know where we live." We had left the New South Wales coast and were on our way to reconnect with Jo, our African overland tour guide, who was home for a couple of month's vacation. Not only would we be able to see where she grew up, but the route there would take us through the Snowy Mountains and past the highest peak in Australia - Mount Kosciuszko.

After leaving Tilba, we had driven until almost dusk. Mindful of the many exhortations not to drive at night (supported by the overwhelming road kill evidence) Dad was anxious to find a place to camp. Fortunately, we found a small town that allowed travelers to overnight in their sports field. The next day found us climbing into the Snowy Mountains, where we stopped at the nearest point to Mount Kosciuszko - the ski resort town of Thredbo. Except for the lack of snow (it was early autumn yet), the town felt much like any ski resort in British Columbia. We checked into the idea of taking a gondola up one of the hills, from where we could climb to a Kosciuszko viewpoint. The weather, however was uncooperative - low clouds and drizzle. It really wasn't worth the effort or the money that day!

As we wound our way down the western slopes of the Snowies, it seemed as though we had just entered Jurassic Park. Giant ferns and moss-encased trees towered over the road. Wisps of fog drifted through the canopy. This was the legendary home of the Brumbies - wild horses - and with some luck, we might see a few! Luck, however, must have been busy helping others that day, for the only trace we saw of Brumbies were piles of fresh manure on the road! At least we knew that they were there!

The rest of our drive to Kergunyah was quite pleasant as rolling hills gave way to wide valleys dotted with cattle stations and small towns. Due to an extended drought, the hills glowed golden in the afternoon sun. After getting directions and taking a few wrong turns, we finally spotted Jo's brother-in-law - Steve - waving at us from the farm gate. We drove past a herd of curious cattle and were soon greeting Jo and the rest of her family. Ross and Noelene, Jo's dad and mom, took us on a small walking tour of their cattle ranch. Perched at the base of a small mountain, it provided a grand view of the surrounding hills and valley. Wild 'roos - wary of our approach - grazed nervously on a nearby hillside. A small wombat had taken-up temporary residence under their picnic table, and seemed quite unconcerned about our presence. Much to Jolene's disappointment, the drought had ravaged her terraced gardens. Despite the lack of greenery, it was still evident that they had been quite magnificent. With characteristic Aussie hospitality, we were invited to park our camper overnight and to stay for a barbeque. We spent that evening reminiscing about Africa, catching-up on how Cyrus and Muthungu (our overland driver and cook respectively) were, and finding-out each other's plans for the next while. It was truly a privilege to get such an open peak into an Aussie family's life. Thank you Jo, Ross, and Noelene!

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