NOTES ON AUSTRALIA – UPPER MURRAY RIVER

Beijing, 8 October 2013

After a quick visit to Canberra and its museums, which I covered in my last post, we were on our way to the Snowy Mountains and beyond. Since I want to focus on the beyond, I’ll quickly slip through the mountains part. It wasn’t quite that easy in practice. Our plan was to drive along the Alpine Way, but when we got to Jindabyne, we discovered that the Way was closed after Thredbo because of a massive landslide.  What to do? After poring over the map, we decided to loop through the mountains to the north and rejoin the Alpine Way just before Corryong.

And so we found ourselves, without really planning it, in the upper reaches of the Murray River. I have to tell you, it was absolutely, absolutely lovely.  Maybe we were lucky with the season, with spring being in full swing. It certainly helped that we had clear, sunny days. Here’s a series of photos I took with my iPhone. Hopefully, they can give readers a sense of the sheer beauty of the landscape that we had wandered into.

upper murray river valley-corryong 020

upper murray river valley-corryong 019

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You can see the Snowy Mountains in the distance, while the river in the foreground is the Murray River and the ponds are the famous billabongs which I mentioned in my first Australian post.

When I saw this landscape after our drive through the relatively dry eastern side of the Snowy Mountains and the forests of Kosciuszko National Park, I could not stop myself from thinking biblically. Up popped the Old Testament story of the Israelites who come back to Moses after exploring Canaan and exclaim, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!” Milk and honey … that certainly describes the land we saw before us. William Blake’s Jerusalem also came to mind:
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

My wife’s first thought had instead a whiff of the pagan. It reminded her, she said, of Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit.

the-hobbit-movie

Whatever the reference, it was certainly very beautiful.

After spending a night in Corryong, and getting some good advice on which road to take from a very nice lady at the local information centre (I have to say, these information centres gave us excellent service everywhere we went), we set off along a small road which hugged the Murray River. It was all very peaceful.

upper murray river valley-corryong 050

We watched a local farmer and his family herd in cows and their calves for marking, as they bellowed mightily against this corralling, and had a long chat with them about the future of farming. We watched Australian white ibises, which we had last seen in Sydney as scavengers, fly regally over our heads, while sulphur-crested cockatoos crossed our path with a slow and sensuous flap of their wings.

sulphur-crest-cockatoo

We finally reached Lake Hume. At first, it was the drowned trees which struck us

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then it was the pelicans, which were swimming among the trees

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The last time I had seen pelicans was as a child in St. James’s park

Then the lake broadened out.

upper murray river valley-corryong 036

We followed the lakeshore until Albury. Thereafter, the landscape got drier, flatter and less interesting so I’ll skip the final day.

Finally, it was time to drive back to Sydney. We decided to pass through Corryong again; we had liked it so much. We had one last vision of wondrous drifts of wildflowers in the fields

upper murray river valley-corryong 038

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before we headed up through Tumbarumba and Tumut to the Hume Highway. Next stop, Sydney Airport and then Beijing. Sigh!

_____________________________

Hobbit: http://www.digitaltrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/the-hobbit-movie-48-fps.jpg
Sulphur-crested cockatoo: http://www.zoo.org.au/sites/default/files/styles/zv_carousel_large/public/sulphur-crest-cockatoo-animal-profile-web620.jpg?itok=dXPfOmk5
all other photos: mine

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Abellio

I like writing, but I’ve spent most of my life writing about things that don’t particularly interest me. Finally, as I neared the age of 60, I decided to change that. I wanted to write about things that interested me. What really interests me is beauty. So I’ve focused this blog on beautiful things. I could be writing about a formally beautiful object in a museum. But it could also be something sitting quietly on a shelf. Or it could be just a fleeting view that's caught my eye, or a momentary splash of colour-on-colour at the turn of the road. Or it could be a piece of music I've just heard. Or a piece of poetry. Or food. And I’m sure I’ve missed things. But I’ll also write about interesting things that I hear or read about. Isn't there a beauty about things pleasing to the mind? I started just writing, but my wife quickly persuaded me to include photos. I tried it and I liked it. So my posts are now a mix of words and pictures, most of which I find on the internet. What else about me? When I first started this blog, my wife and I lived in Beijing where I was head of the regional office of the UN Agency I worked for. So at the beginning I wrote a lot about things Chinese. Then we moved to Bangkok, where again I headed up my Agency's regional office. So for a period I wrote about Thailand and South-East Asia more generally. But we had lived in Austria for many years before moving to China, and anyway we both come from Europe my wife is Italian while I'm half English, half French - so I often write about things European. Now I'm retired and we've moved back to Europe, so I suppose I will be writing a lot more about the Old Continent, interspersed with posts we have gone to visit. What else? We have two grown children, who had already left the nest when we moved to China, but they still figure from time to time in my posts. I’ll let my readers figure out more about me from reading what I've written. As these readers will discover, I really like trees. So I chose a tree - an apple tree, painted by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt - as my gravatar. And I chose Abellio as my name because he is the Celtic God of the apple tree. I hope you enjoy my posts. http://ipaintingsforsale.com/UploadPic/Gustav Klimt/big/Apple Tree I.jpg

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