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.
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.
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.
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.
We finally reached Lake Hume. At first, it was the drowned trees which struck us
then it was the pelicans, which were swimming among the trees
The last time I had seen pelicans was as a child in St. James’s park …
Then the lake broadened out.
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
before we headed up through Tumbarumba and Tumut to the Hume Highway. Next stop, Sydney Airport and then Beijing. Sigh!
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