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Alpine Discovery Tour
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Memories of an Alpine Summer
It is a week since I returned from my trip to the Victorian High County, but I continually find myself back there with Jenny and the others. Once again I wander among the snowgums; smell the mountain ash bushland; gaze with wonder upon the myriad varieties of pink, white and yellow wildflowers scattered across the hillsides. I watch ibis, heron and eagles dip and soar in flight while raucous kookaburras take the mickey out of earth-bound humans.
I feel the warm sun on my skin, tempered by cool breezes and enjoy the impossible freshness and clarity of mountain air. My eyes drink in the vistas of burnished green mountain grasses; jagged rock-strewn ridges; ghostly tree-limbs; and line after line of blue ranges tumbling into the distance. And the sky! Blueness that speaks to the soul during the day and blackness be-jewelled with a billion glittering stars at night.
I can’t drag my soul away.
K. Kelly (NSW) January 2002
On Top of Mt Hotham (to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey”
On top of Mt Hotham, with a smidgen of snow
We capture the summit then descended to show
That Trevor could lead us, for we followed him down
Disturbing the grasshoppers, we cleared the last mound.
We packed up our troubles and mosey’d along
A wombat sidetracked us and turned us around
Jenny backed up to see him, a difficult feat
A brown ball of lard, with four chubby wee feet.
Now Jenny’s our leader, she gets us our meals
She dodges the cattle and makes all the deals
We have to be ready, we cannot delay
The procession gets started at each break of day.
While Jenny’s the expert, she knows all the birds
Yet Trevor’s the one who will show us the turds
His smile is so pleasant, his wit is real keen
Piggybacking Hazel, was a sight to be seen.
Each night’s an adventure, with unique places to lay
Now our parting brings sorrow as we’d sure like to stay
Our thanks for your knowledge and driving skills too
With patience and courage to humour this zoo.
Lush green are the forests, many roads with a bend
We savour your friendship, so this has to end!
By Sharon, with assistance from Elizabeth, Hazel, Phil and Marion
Canada, March 1999
Our trip into the High Country was certainly the highlight of my visit to Australia. Jenny, your enthusiasm, energy and sens of adventure made this trip unforgettable. Thank-you for sharing your knowledge of the creatures big and small, of the history and the people of the High Country. It has made me discover this part of Australia in a way I could never have done otherwise.
I returned to Canada with vivid memories of the Australian Alps – our first walk in the Mitchell River National Park and the luxuriant rainforest, our arrival at day’s end in Dargo, greeted by a beautiful rainbow bridging the valley. Our copious lunches in the shade of gumtrees. Our chats with local people like Ian Scott in Dargo who spoke of the four generations of his family who had settled there and who sold me a bag of fresh walnuts from his orchard. Howard Reddish at his Cassilis winery sho told us stories of the old mining days.
What pleasure it was discovering wildflowers and plants and tasting the berries from a wild pepper bush. Taking in the beauty of the many colours of a variety of gum trees, including the red candlebark, the white and grey snow gums and the gnarled black Sallees at Native Dog Flat.
The accommodations were well chosen and made us feel close to nature while always comfortable. I will never forget seeing a wombat cross the road during our nocturnal walk near Benambra and have so many other vivid images of the mountains, valleys and high plains.
We had the best of travelling companions and had such a wonderful time everywhere we went.
A. Sicotte (Canada) February 1998
By mountain and glen and in Nargun’s Den
There our Jenny you’ll find
‘Neath bush, stone and leaf, insect and bug builds a reef
Jenny knows every species and kind.
We came fro arid, a walk and a look
Not knowing how much we would learn.
Now that we know what’s under the snow,
To return with all speed we do yearn.
So it’s all thanks to our guide, for the wonders which hide,
Under these beautiful Alpine peaks.
We’ve had a great time, everything was so fine,
And of this to our friends we will speak.
By M. Brauer (NSW) February 1998
Alpine Discovery Tour
“In January I toured the Eastern Victoria high country on the Alpine Discovery Tour commencing in the Gippsland Lakes district and travelling for 7 days through the Victorian Alps.
The tour featured koala spotting on Raymond Island, a pleasant cruise on the Gippsland Lakes including a visit to the ninety mile beach and watching pelicans fed at Metung. On to the Mitchell River National Park and the mysterious Den of Nargun, the site of the old goldmining township of Grant, walking on the Dargo High Plains and walking in the Victorian Alps at Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain. At Omeo we visited the Oriental diggings, Cassilis Winery then on to Native Dog Flat, past the Cobberas and finally a tour of the Royal Cave at Buchan.
The weather was fine and warm to hot (it was mid-summer) and the scenery was superb. Saw koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, possums and a myriad of birdlife as well as enduring many flies!
The alpine vegetation was unique – snow grass plains, snowgum woodlands and a profusion of wildflowers. Travelling through the large areas that were burnt in the bushfires of 2003 and seeing the regeneration that is taking place is amazing.
Heard many stories and tales from Jenny regarding the wildlife, the history , the personalities , the communities, the bushfires and the debate re. alpine grazing. The company, organisation, accommodation and food were all wonderful. A great week away.”
P. Macdonald (Vic) January 2005
Eastern Peaks Walk
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National Parks & Wilderness
I am interested in walking and saw the National Parks & Wilderness Ecotour advertised and thought, Yes; that sounds like fun; Rang the company; Booked; Paid the deposit and thought, STILL months away.
I received all the information and with only 2 weeks to go I though, what have I let myself in for? Will I be: strong enough, fit enough. And able to put up a tent? In other words, what possessed me to think this trip was something I wanted and could do?
All these thoughts disappeared when I met Jenny at Bairnsdale, she was bright, smiling, knowledgeable and great fun, and I must say continued this way through the whole trip. The group was very small, but that meant we all got to know each other well and had time to help each other.
It was challenging for me in lots of ways, first holiday on my own, first bushwalking holiday, first time sleeping in a tent but I enjoyed all the challenges and the whole experience and look forward to the next one.
J. Studdert (NSW) November 2002
The whole trip was fun, interesting and incredibly grand. It was particularly amazing to encounter landscape that is so different to anywhere else in Australia. The atmospheric snow gums haunting the misty slopes and the soft alpine meadows where you suddenly come across tiny hidden orchids where unforgettable. The highlight of the trip for me was the 3600 view from the top of Mt Cobberas. Particularly as a European, and also now as a Queenslander, the only time I have ever looked out from a mountain to see miles of totally uninhabited wilderness with no evidence of human infiltration has been in the Pilbara. And of course there is only desert to see there and not hundreds of miles of trees and hills.
The sightings of wildlife were sudden and exciting. The peregrine falcon nest was a first sighting for us all the chicks seemed very close with the aid of the binoculars. Also the young eagle setting looking at us in the tree, an alpine snake curled up in the sun and our lovely little skink caught unawares on the rocks. Hope to see you again for another trip soon.
A. Berry (Qld) November 2001
Snowy River and Errinundra Explorer
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Whipbirds and Misty Gullies
Magnificent, towering trees; lush green tree ferns with flowing fronds, some tall, some small; the whipcrack sound of the whipbird; the sometimes distinctive, sometimes imitative call of the lyrebird; other wonderful birdlife from the huge wedgetail eagle perched on the ground to the dainty yellow robin flitting about the bushes; misty gullies with a superb view – for us imagined and not sighted as a result of the unexpected and unusual deluge; dark swamp wallabies and agile grey kangaroos; descriptions of the unseen extremely endangered rock wallaby; pleasant evenings and days spent with friends – good conversations and excellent meals.
These are my impressions from a memorable trip to the Snowy River and Errinundra National parks.
H. Dittebrandt (Vic) April 2000
See them gathered there round Jenny
eyes shining, hearts anticipating
what delights await —
Pat and Pauline, Marjorie too
Alison, Joyce and Rae
Nancy, Enid, Sannie —
off they go to the Snow … y river.
Wait, wait, not so fast!
First stop Buchan
Royal caves delight
as do roast lamb and apple pie
high on the ridge.
Next mountain ash and lyrebird calls
flowers, ferns and views,
what more could they ask for on
the longest half hour trip ever to Karoonda Park.
More roast, more apple pie,
thank goodness they go walking, spotlighting —
greater gliders and tawny frogmouth —
how well they sleep tonight!
Little River falls and gorge
stories of brush tailed rock wallabies
zig zag road among the white box
down and down and down —
At last! The Snowy River!
see them walking McKillop’s bridge
see them paddling gleefully below.
Over the border to NSW,
Delegate and LAMB cutlets!
Going out to Errinundra
under lowering clouds
daisy bushes flowering white
dusky red blooms on tall waratahs
quietly, quietly see them walking
rainforest tracks —
ancient sassafras known to dinosaurs
fallen giants moss covered —
water rushing through a tunnel
legacy of long ago gold miners,
birds calling, frogs croaking
the forest damp and misty
taller, taller glorious waratahs
deeper, deeper treefern gullies.
Talking, talking hear them drive
down the road —
Orbost, Bruthen, Bairnsdale —
thank you, Jenny, thank you
goodbye, goodbye, goodbye —
home to remember!
By S. Pritchard, Qld (October 2006)
Snowy River & Errinundra Highlights
On our recent trip with Jenny Edwards to the Snowy River and Errinundra Plateau several things stood out, including the diverse and interesting people accompanying us, the leader’s amazing knowledge of the flora and fauna, her great organisational ability, and not least her “Mary Poppins Act” whereby Jenny each day produced delicious food from every nook and cranny in the vehicle. Even on the last day we savoured her lovely fruit cake for morning tea.
Apart from the beautiful scenery, Charles and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the farm, our second night’s accommodation where we watched fascinated, the owners and staff cater for and feed 50 children, 30 backpackers and our group of 10 with a beautiful 3 course meal. Another highlight among many others was the discovery of the beautiful groves of th4e Victorian Waratah. We would recommend this tour to both old and young.
A. & C Isbister (Vic) October 2002
“I had a nice week away in East Gippsland the second week of November. A pleasant rail journey from Melbourne through Gippsland to Sale and bus on to Bairnsdale where our tour commenced. Nice to leave the car at home.
Very rugged mountain and forest country. The trip was good - myself and six lovely ladies. Lots of nice easy walks- though we seemed to go up more than we went down! Great company, great scenery, beautiful weather, gorgeous gorges and waterfalls, heaps of wildlife (kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, giant goannas, lizards, possums, skinks, snakes, frogs and bats, birdlife (kookaburras, lyrebirds, parrots, rosellas, owls and many more) and lots and lots of wildflowers. A highlight were the Gippsland Waratahs which were in bloom throughout Errinundra plus a descent into the deep of Buchan caves.
Good accommodation, great guidance and excellent meals and morning and afternoon breaks helped make a great week.”
P. Macdonald (Vic), November 2003
Wonders of Wildlife Ecotour – New Year
See Wildlife Research
Wonders of Wildlife Adventure, New Years Eve 2005/2006- a personal reflection
Would you like to spend New Year’s Eve gazing at Little Forest Bats weighing not more than an empty matchbox? Watch in summer heat as they leave their cold old gold mine shafts hidden behind tree ferns on their nightly forage? Then lie on your back absorbing a huge starlit sky? When Jenny tells me how she will be spending New Year, I think, “Yes, Wonders of Wildlife is for me, too!” So, I spend the turn of the year in the bush, far off from the usual hype
A novice to wildlife research, but not to hiking, I hear more names, facts and figures over three days than it is possible to absorb in a years study; so generous with their knowledge are Jenny, Raz and Christine. I join the beginner’s class yet again, once more out of my comfort zone. As someone who is delighted by new enthusiasms, I am excited. Not yet can I distinguish between a white-naped, white-eared or yellow-tufted honeyeater, but I am hoping. This connection with Jenny’s Gippsland High Country Tours offers an appreciation of Gippsland wildlife and hiking in the high country not before available to me.
The Haunted Stream sign is concealed; appropriate for ghosts I think and wonder how it got its name. We drive through a bull paddock, up and down a rough gravel track cut into the steep hillside. It is hot and dry as we stop in a cloud of red dust. Our grassy campsite is by the stream. I hear the engine no more. Only wind, birds and water interrupt the big silence. It is over 42C ‘in the shade’. I go down to the babbling stream. There is water enough to fill a swimming hole, in parts over two metres deep. It is deliciously cool and wet. I float on my back, blissed out, head half in the water. I watch as leaves high overhead dance in the soft breeze, then bark shave and drift slowly from branches. Buoyant in this watery silence, I sense visually and kinaesthetically as cool silk moves gently over me and on downstream.
The bush envelops, surrounds, bringing unique sounds, smells and vistas – the trees are tall, the sky big and signs of human settlement rare. What is it about the bush that invites time to expand and days lengthen? At Haunted Stream but an afternoon yet it feels like a week. The book I had been reading in the city seems irrelevant here. At Stirling, up the track a bit, I stand in the ruins of the Retreat Hotel. I wonder on the life of the woman, Margaret Cooney, who managed it – two husbands, twelve children and a pub – does this take particular courage and endurance? Then more questions – what was life like for women in the gold rush days? What attitudes and values informed the miners? What were their hopes and dreams? What were their setbacks? Did they realise the gold they found, while bringing wealth, would diminish this resource permanently? How long did it take for the bush to reclaim the land and rivers?
As we rumble over the rocky track to leave we pass a myriad of grasses identified by Raz, while a goanna or two use the cleared road for transit. Raz helps me understand and reflect on the endangered Victorian Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby. Saving the Shadow is the recovery program for this engaging, extraordinarily agile, shy creature. (www.vicrockwallaby.com) Have a look!
by B. Heyward (Vic)
Wonders of Wildlife
Five intrepid adventurers: Maria, Sally, Julie, Jenny A and I set off on a Monday with our guides Jenny Edwards, Jim & Christine. We all had our own particular interests that Jenny was careful to find out about early so the trip could be arranged around them.
My favourite part of the trip was the animal research project. The opportunity to trap bats and bush rats as well as to collect information on other animals in the study areas was exciting, interesting and worthwhile. Not having a science background, I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I could absorb from Jenny and Jim. They regularly pointed our features of interest and their knowledge of animal, bird, plant and insect life was extensive.
I have ended the trip with a greater appreciation of the beauty of the Australian bush and mountain regions and it will be no surprise to my fellow travellers if I remain a bat fanatic for the rest of my life. I’ve already booked myself into a bat workshop in February!
S. Zele (Vic) December 2002
A memorable New Year
The highlight for me of The wonders of Wildlife Ecotour was the setting and checking of the traps and the “processing” of the wildlife we caught.
How could a small animal resist the peanut butter goodie spread on a bed of bark of leaves – kept fresh and dry in an Elliott trap? With great excitement we loaded, placed and tagged the traps to await with anticipation the next morning’s catch – one lucky well fed bush rat!! It had our total attention while held firmly by Jenny as it was weighed, sexed, measured and aged.
Setting the harp traps was quite an education. Our first captures were found in the early evening snuggled up together warmth. Seven different bat species was caught and all were surprisingly small and very cute! They were transferred into a cloth “bank bag” and kept warm against a human chest. Each individual was process with weight, size, sex and age recorded. If lactating they were released immediately to return to their young. We were delighted to have such close encounters with Chocolate Wattled, Southern Large and Small Forest Bats. Also Broad-nosed and Lesser Long-eared Bats. What a delight to release them from warm hands in the evening and watch them circling while sensing their direction home.
Discovering many frogs along the stream was another great surprise, but we didn’t need trips – “just lift the stones”.
To be so close to nature, in such a beautiful place was a privilege indeed. Thanks Jenny, Jim, April and Christine for an amazing, stimulating and unforgettable holiday.
R. Akie (Vic) New Year 2001/02
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