Gippsland High Country Tours
Ecotours and Walking in the High Country and East Gippsland Regions of Victoria


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Mt Feathertop Adventure
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Feathertop Adventure

The large envelope arrived on the first cold day of winter.  Snuggled by the fire I gazed one by one at the photos Jenny had sent me.  There we all were, high on the Razorback Track, with the final summit climb to Mt Feathertop peak in view behind us.  Flyveils, solid boots, daypacks, sweaty, grateful for shade – a far cry from a winter evening indoors.

The climb along Razorback had begun at 7am and we moved along keeping warm.  After a couple of hours we were glad to rest in the grassy dell.  The super-fit had gone ahead to a pre-arranged meeting point.  Those needing help with walking poles and guidance were always supported by one of the guides.  Everyone likes to choose their own pace on a challenging walk and this we could do.

The day was perfect for the journey - and the scenery and wildflowers exquisite.  By the time we lunched beneath the summit, even the last wisps of cloud had departed giving the summiteers a perfect 3600 view of pristine territory and occasional habitation.

It was a magic experience to stand on the top, definitely worth the last steep climb (count 20 steps – rest, count 20 steps – rest!!)  Thank you Jenny for getting us there and sharing a special part of the world with us.

C. Coulson (Vic) January 2005

 


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

Alpine Discovery

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


Bushfires & Wildlife Ecotour – Forlorn Hope Plain
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Rats?  Soft cute native rats

“In December 2004, we set off with Jenny and crew to meet a Parks Ranger up on Forlorn Hope Plain.  This is Wilderness – part of the Buchan Headwaters, so we were very privileged to be allowed in!

We were participating in a survey to find out how the fauna of the area were faring after the devastating fire.  Jenny had mentioned rats, of which I was rather dubious.  Anyway we set up bat traps and about 100 special traps to catch small mammals during the afternoon, but unfortunately heavy rain started which curtailed birdwatching.

Next morning – more rain, but we had some success with our traps – lots of tiny bats and several different species of them, an Antechinus and a Spiny Crayfish.  We also saw a white lipped snake and a copperhead basking between showers, so the fauna look OK.  The fires must have been ferocious as the trees were mere skeletons, charred and blackened, but with some good new growth.

The rain kept up, but Jenny and Christine in their gumboots were valiant in their endeavours and the rest of us ventured out some of the time.  Our persistence paid off – as we had captured and released a total of 48 bats (7 different species), 4 Antechinus and 4 Broad-toothed Rats!  My friends at home would never believe I had been within cooee of any Rat, but these were soft and cute, so I had to get the obligatory photo to prove it!

Our last night there, nature put on an amazing show for us. Gale-force winds, thunder and lightening – rolling around for hours.  We heard two loud cracks that were obviously falling trees and they sounded very near!

Next morning was fine and we thought maybe it would stay dry to pack up and collect our traps, but the rain rolled in again.  Despite the rain we still managed to record 21 bird species during the 4 days.  We got out OK thanks to Jenny’s skill at 4 wheel driving and there was no sign of the fallen trees, thank goodness.

After the rain the tree trunks looked amazing – the bark on the candlebarks, and other gums were spectacularly shining yellow and green – better than any Ken Duncan photo!

What an experience – thank you Jenny and crew.  As usual the food and company were great and my boots have actually dried out!”

A. Pritchard (NSW)  December 2004

An unforgettable moment

Day 2 on the Forlorn Hope Trip in April 2004 was cold and foggy.  As we warmed our hands on our hot drinks, I looked as far as visibility allowed and noticed several spiders’ webs glistening in the early light.  “Put up your binoculars and look, came the suggestion from a fellow bird watcher.”

What I saw will stay in my minds’ eye forever – We were completely surrounded by twinkling webs.  The binoculars opened up my previous limited view to an unbelievable, extensive and dramatic sight.  Sadly I didn’t capture it on film, but will never lose that amazing feeling. Special thanks to my fellow camper for the great suggestion. It seemed only minutes later, that the sun came out and the vision disappeared from our eyes.

R. Akie (Vic), April 2004

Two unforgettable experiences – Forlorn Hope Plain & Lake Tali Karng

“Words are inadequate to explain or express the feelings, but here goes-  Wonder, joy, exhilaration, excitement, achievement, despair (when the pack had to be left behind –Tali Karng) bone weariness and an overwhelming sense of “YES”!!

The food was satisfying, abundant and enjoyable.  Tom was a clown and contributed enormously to the sense of fun and adventure.  Jenny (as usual) a tower of strength and support and encouragement and wonder woman!!. The place was indescribably beautiful – re-emerging in areas totally destroyed by fire with incredible vigour, colour and enthusiasm.  I do wish I could grow Black Sallees in Queensland!!

Both Forlorn Hope Plain and Lake Tali Karng were unforgettable experiences.

Thank you Sheina for the photo – I don’t mind being encumbered, I just feel photos don’t really capture the feeling, though the one you sent I will treasure.  And Diana (probably off again soon, if not already trekking again) Thank you for the opportunity to show the “grannies” that their Nan actually walked these places.  Shirley I hope to catch up with you sometime in the Flinders Ranges!

And Jenny – thank you – I will do it again!”  

Y. Lickerman (Qld) April 2004


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


 

Mt Tingaringy & Errinundra for Walkers
See Walking Ecotours  for a similar experience Walking Errinundra Plateau

Tingaringy and Errinundra for Walkers

I have wanted to visit the Errinundra Plateau since I saw David Tatnall’s photographs of its magnificent giant eucalypts during the 1980s campaign to stop logging in those old growth forests. In spring 2005 I joined Jenny’s five-day ‘Tingaringy and Errinundra for walkers’ tour. Our base for the first three nights was Delegate, across the NSW border on the southern Monaro Plains.

We spent two days exploring the Errinundra National Park, combining short and medium length walks with scenic drives. The weather was ideal for walking in the magnificent ancient cool temperate rainforest and eucalypt forests, which are home to many species of birds, including lyrebirds, as well as wallabies, sugar gliders and water dragons (lizards).  The streams and the air were clear, the shining gums, wattles, sassafras, native plum pines and other species were healthy and apparently untouched by fire, and the orchids, snow daisy bushes and other wildflowers were profuse. The Gippsland waratah–more delicate than the NSW species–grows in the higher altitudes, and we saw its crimson blooms at the height of their flowering season. We saw many wallabies, and birdsong accompanied us almost constantly as we walked along 4WD tracks and walking tracks. One day we ate our lunch by a creek, and spotted many species of birds, including a restless flycatcher, bathing–or rather ‘dipping’–in the stream, less than a metre from where we were sitting. To my great relief we encountered few leeches. (My bushwalking group visited Errinundra in 2001 and still tell horror stories about being devoured by voracious leeches.)

The weather was not so kind the day we climbed the highest mountain in the Alpine National Park, Mt Tingaringy (1448 metres). We set off walking up a 4WD track in light drizzle, which soon developed into steady rain. After a short detour to view the Tingaringy Falls we pushed on to the summit, which was enclosed by fog and buffeted by cold winds. Nonetheless the carpets of ‘creamy candles’ beneath the snow gums were cheering. The solar panels near the communications tower seemed redundant, and we had to accept Jenny’s word that ‘on a clear day’ the 360° view would include Mt Kosciuszko. We ate our picnic lunch in chilly conditions, then before the descent to our vehicle Jenny invited the very keen members of the party to accompany her on a 300 metre walk to locate a stone and wooden surveyors’ cairn on the Vic/NSW border. This was one of the markers on the ‘Black-Allan’ line surveyed in 1870–72, to meet the condition of ‘a straight line drawn from Cape Howe to the nearest source of the Murray River’. One could only admire the surveyors’ skill in traversing this rugged country, and keeping to their 104° line across rivers and ranges, no doubt in weather conditions more adverse than those we were experiencing. When we completed our 18 or so km trek and returned to the vehicle Jenny laid on hot drinks, soup and fruit cake. Later we warmed up in the hotel dining room, which we littered with wet coats, boots, gloves, pants, backpacks etc.

Our fellow guests at the Delegate Hotel were a team of shearers, who kept to the warmth (and smoke) of the bar, while we walkers took over the dining room. Wednesday night was pool night, as well as the World Cup soccer match, so the place livened up that night. Each evening we walked around the town in the moonlight. Hardly any cars passed us, although on one night we were almost bowled over by a wombat that shot across the road in front of us!

Delegate is a service town for the surrounding grazing and timber communities. We learned some of its history from signs and plaques around the town. In 1915 a ‘Snowy River route March’ or recruitment drive began in Delegate with nine men and finished months later at Goulburn with more than 140 recruits. This was repeated in 1939.

On Thursday we explored more of Errinundra National Park and made a side trip to the summit of Mt Morris (a fairly gentle ascent). This time we were in luck. Visibility was excellent, and our views across the ranges included Mt Tingaringy–bathed in full sunshine–and beyond it the Kosciuszko Range, with large patches of snow glistening on the southern slopes. Later we stopped at ‘Ocean View’, to look towards the Bass Strait coast and the huge sand dunes at Thurra River, a few kms from Point Hicks. At afternoon tea by the beautiful Brodribb River Jenny insisted that we finish the delicious fruit cake. Then we made the long descent into Orbost, where we stayed on our final night.

The next morning we walked around some of Orbost’s historic sites before a farewell morning tea at the Orbost Exhibition Centre, the home of the National Collection of Australian Wood Design.

The beautiful environment of Errinundra Plateau was what brought me to East Gippsland. Jenny’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for the bush and the history of the area, plus her ability to communicate these to us, enhanced the experience tremendously.

J. Kenny (Vic)  November 2005


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.
What?
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 —
eerie stillness.

Rain overnight
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


Cobberas & Cowombat Flat Adventure
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Cobberas Wilderness and Cowombat Flat Adventure

Would you like to straddle the Great Dividing Range, have one foot in VIC and one in NSW, see the first border Cairn, the infant Murray River, breathe alpine air and sleep where wild horses run? Are you interested in this high country dreaming?

Loaded with essentials, food and water, I swing my pack onto my back staggering slightly.  We, Ron, James, Doug, Jasmin, Jenny, Tom, Hans, Paula and me (Belinda), set off from The Playground to Cobberas 1 (1838m). In simmering heat, we climb. Over rocks, between rocks, over and under fallen trees, some burnt, some fallen with the weight of snow. Through tall grasses past their prime, now folded and fallen, trip wires for the unwary. Post-2003 fires, snow gums sprout with kid-glove leaves, others with silver-grey spiralling around their branches, velvet, soft, tactile sensations.

On and up, terracotta and burnt sienna rocks turned grey with exposure. Some coated with green and grey lichen. Still air, humid, we need a breeze, pleeze, sweat, puff, sweat, puff, and sweat. Hans and Paula carry extra water for us. They will return home. We stash our packs against a tree, (I wonder will we find them again?) and hike to the summit of Cobberas 1.  Some climb to the top where a small book is kept to sign off on the achievement.  Hans confidently sits on top, Jasmin and Doug too.  Since Hans says he is sitting on a rock not wider than a saddle, I decline the invitation to join them.  Photos instead… what a panorama Middle Peak, Cleft Peak, Moscow Peak, Cobberas 2 and The Pilot in New South Wales. Then down…

Miraculously (to me anyway) we find our packs and farewell Hans and Paula.  Paula has a massage booked.  Secretly I want to join her.  Instead I heave my pack and set off. Almost all the snow gums are bent and leaning, with grey, chalk and lead trunks, their skins rippled, flaked, mottled or stripped, timeless. This land awes me. We make our way to a grassy campsite at 1700m. The soft evening light and long shadows begin. We cool and catch our breath, set up our tents. Tom, Doug and Jasmin go to find water, they have energy to spare at the end of this day. Tom finds a gumleaf to funnel the tiny stream into a canister. While others are busy, I fiddle in my tent and admire the view. Jenny creates one of her bush dinners. We wait, eager, expectant. It is more than delicious.  Why does everything taste so good in the bush? Jenny, James, Ron and Tom hear horses during the night. We are the intruders. Poo mountains mark the stallion terrain and fresh poo is evident. Mercifully, it does not stick to your boots, or smell!

Next morning, the air is crisp. It warms to a still day.  We leave dewy tents to dry and hike to Middle Peak. We scramble up near vertical, then bum-slide down over long grass; exhilarating, I love it! Beyond, the rocky outcrops of Cleft Peak rise. I find a large cave and wonder if it was once shelter, and for whom? After gazing, lazing and grazing we return to pack up camp and move on.  On the way to our next camp, Tom and I straddle the Great Dividing Range. We have long legs. We spot wild horses and a foal.  As we head down to camp, the horses take flight, galloping, tails streaming. The land rises all around, and as the light fades, mist rolls in, rolls on, and more rolls in. The ground is soon wet as is the air. It is eerily quiet.

The morning is cool and clear. Ravens call mournfully, their black feathers glossy in the bright light. We climb to Moscow Peak then along the top of the Range. I scramble up rock faces, bum-slide down, clamber round boulders, speed over grassy saddles, pick a weaving path through rocks hidden in grasses to Cobberas 2.  I look back to Cleft Peak, distant and stately.  We stop for more lazing and grazing. Storms threaten, we elect to have two nights on Cowombat Flat.  This means another long, contouring, steep descent.  Down and round we go.  Over rocks, fallen trees, hidden holes, criss-cross branches, tall grasses, through head high snow gum regrowth with soft leather leaves, past sun-baking copperhead snakes.  We contour the side of the hill, going left, left, and left. I long for a right turn; one leg is getting longer. This is tricky hiking, untracked, meandering and steep. I put my toe in a hole on the downside, my hiking stick in another, and fall, turning gracefully, an arc in the air with the weight of my pack sending me head first downhill.  I am an upturned turtle, head down hill, and legs in the air. Tom helps me vertical, we laugh, and I am not hurt. Finally, we are on Cowombat Flat. This is a natural clearing, a big open generous space.  It is windy and cool. I tie down my tent as never before, anticipating storms. The wind drops, my tent looks ridiculous strapped to the ground. After dinner physical tiredness hits and I fall into my tent to punch out the zzzzzs.

Dew again overnight.  We hike to Forrest Hill, the headwaters of the Murray and the first border Cairn beyond. At the Murray source we find a canister of notes – previous visitors names and journeys are read out.  The river here is gentle, insignificant, flowing over mossy clover shimmering in the sun. We move away from the river, over grassy verges, up rocky hills, past burned trees and stumps, find brumby tracks, down to the river again, watch for tiger snakes. A wallaby with joey, rust red, bounds away.  Thunderstorms threaten; the air is thick and warm. We spot a yellow tent at Cowombat Flat, descend and cross the river to the ruins of a farmhouse.  I gaze at the rocky ruins and imagine the past – building with rock, split logs and earth, a tough life? Drizzle begins, dampening clothes, not spirits. We hike to the junction of the Pilot, Murray and Copperhead rivers.  Fish jump at twigs I throw in the water.  Jenny and I have a “bark race” down the river.  One piece gets stuck; race over.  I stretch this last day in the wilderness quiet, reluctant to let daylight go.  Yet night falls anyway.  Thunder rolls close, then distant.  Lightning flashes.  We sit round a fire with another satisfying dinner. The storm rolls on to New South Wales. It rains and I am warm and dry in my tent.

We pack for the long walk out.  It is a wide gravel track, hot, gruelling and rough underfoot. Up, of course, from Cowombat Flat. Wild horses run close by, stop, look at us with their long faces, turn and gallop on.  Hans meets us with lunch – fresh bread, fruit, ham, and chicken roll. I feel civilisation is too close.  After lunch, we hike to the Landcruiser.  It is the beginning of re-entry.  Gravel roads turn to bitumen, and Omeo. We stay at the Golden Age Hotel. It lives its name.  I wake at 5 a.m. Omeo is quiet.  Hills roll on greenly.  I walk around town.  The air is crisp before the day warms.  We leave.  The Cobberas Wilderness recedes in fact, yet resonates in memory.

B. Heyward (Vic) November 2005

Cobberas Highlights

I was lured to the call of the Victorian Alps wilderness by the trip notes and the promise of snow, having read a past passenger’s description of last year’s walk.  Would I be so lucky?  As a Queenslander, snow is an experience of far away places. 

Day 1 and my fellow walker Judy and I arrived early at our departure point.  My first impression of the group was that they were bright and cheery for first thing in the morning.  Always a good sign!  We introduced ourselves to Jenny, Tom and Hans who would be our charges for the next five days.  We loaded up, “The Playgrounds” our destination and drop off point.  The scenery on the way was diverse, from rolling grassy hills to heavily wooded forests.  For me there was the expectation of what lay ahead.

At The Playgrounds, we readjusted our packs to include our share of the food and tent.  The final test on minimal packing for a five day walk. We were off this time, Cobberas 1 our destination.  The walk was a steady climb, Hans put his long legs to good use and sprinted up ahead.  What a relief to shed our packs and explore the dizzy heights of Cobberas No 1 at approx 1800metres. 

At the end of our first day well satisfied with our efforts, we donned our warm gear in anticipation for the coming cold night.  Being a Queenslander I had forgotten about the layered method and kept sneaking back to the tent for yet another layer.  The next night I was prepared!  Hot food and a campfire were heaven at the end of our first day.  We settled down for some good campfire chat and to find our a little of each of us.  After a few hours of “frank fireside discussion” we had solved world problems and found out Tom best worked “on his back”.  I thought I has ensured of an interesting time ahead however Tom’s work ethic concerned me somewhat.  As was our compass bearer and carrier of some of the provisions, I would have to watch him closely.

Day 2 greeted us being in the cloud line, the temperature being no far above zero.  Could this be the beginning of snow?  The cloud and fog cleared into a beautiful day and we set off to explore Cleft Peak.  What a wonderful feeling to be above the cloud line.  And so we went on, each day as enjoyable as the last.  We enjoyed such splendours as Moscow Peak, Cobberas No 2, then down to Cowombat Flat to find fresh mountain spring water.

Our anxieties over the lack of water due to the dry summer had subsided.  We enjoyed the beauty of free roaming brumbies inquiring of us at a safe distance and their territorial snorts echoing into the night.  My fears of Tom’s work ethic were unfounded as he was a whiz with the compass.  Jenny’s enthusiasm and knowledge for the area was inspirational and I wished the trip could go on forever.  The snow didn’t appear, but perfect weather did.  From experiences of the previous year in one of those far away places, I know that the joy of snow lasts only until your feet get wet.  I wasn’t disappointed.  To sum up the trip – the wilderness was pristine, the views unmatched and the company a delight.  Overall a perfect holiday.

S. Thrupp (Qld) April 1997

Wilderness Walking

This was a great adventure, challenging at times, but very manageable.  The scenery was fantastic, wildflowers were out and even the Alpine mist on Day was beautiful.  Thanks to Jenny for her knowledge of the bush, plants and animals and history of the area.  We were able to enjoy the serenity of the area and to appreciate where we were – in the Wilderness of Victoria.  On the drive out we passed our start point and I thought, well if I had been told to, I would readily do it all again.

Anne (NT) November 1999

The Cobberas walk was a wonderful experience for me.  I loved the feelings of being so far from areas of human impact and seeing the wilderness in beautiful autumn weather.  Coming across wildlife like a Boobook Owl, a Peregrine Falcon, a Wedge-tail Eagle and Brumbies galloping down a hill were memories I will treasure.

Jenny and Trevor, as well as being good company made the trip more interesting as they knew so much about the local area and it’s birds and animals.

Inspired by so much natural beauty and the feeling of peace it gave me, I have decided to move house from the centre of Sydney to somewhere further out with a bit more bush.  Back in the city, I still have that to resolve however, a couple of well placed hail stones through the roof means my plans will be sooner rather than later.

A. Forsyth (NSW)  April 1999


 

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


Croajingolong Coastal Ecotour
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Croajingolong Coastal Ecotour October 2005

From the time we had lunch at Bruthen we know we were in for surprises.

Point Hicks in a small gale is majestic, one can understand how the wind sculptured the tea-tree covered slopes to an undulating expanse of immaculately shaped ridges and troughs.

I was a surprise to look down upon the numerous sea eagles as these magnificent birds patrolled the shore line below us.

Nothing was more delicately balanced or more colourful than the view of the light house floor when seen from the top of the stair will.  The framing of scene by the spiral stair railing was perfect!

The Genoa Falls with water dragons, in the late afternoon was a delight of tranquillity and moving water.

Gipsy Point Lodge garden in the early morning revealed an exciting profusion of native birds, too many species seen to be enumerated.

The profusion of orchids in the vicinity of Gipsy Point inspired an interest in the novice “orchid watcher’.

The fight between a kitten ring tail possum and a raven, on the beach at Mallacoota was interesting, the little animal attacking its giant adversary as soon as it regained balance after being tossed about by the tail.  Jenny’s handling of the rescued youngster, which travelled in a bag suspended from the rear vision mirror until it had recovered, was a delight.

Over all, a great experience of plants, birds, terrestrial animals, aquatic animals, mountains, sea and rivers.

J. Penington (Vic) 2005

Croajingolong Highlights

One persons highlights are not necessarily the highlights for others, but we were a pretty compatible group, enjoying one another’s company and sharing experiences and knowledge—of birds and plants, childhood and travel, life in general and in the particular.  These are certainly underpinning the memories of my days, 3—8  October in Croajingolong National Park.  The line from Tennyson’s poem, Ulysses, where Ulysses says, “I am a part of all that I have met” seems to be threaded among it all too.  So, our highlights:

  • The first glimpse of the elegantly tall Point Hicks Lighthouse
  • Going to sleep the first night in the keepers’ cottages, with the sounds of the rough sea and the window frames being rattled by the wind
  • Understanding the hardship and isolation experienced by the keepers, their wives and children
  • Being able to climb the 162 steps and stand beside the glass prisms which magnified the original lamplight a million times to send its unique Flash, Flash, 6 second delay, repeated message fifty kilometres out to the horizon.  And being able to look back down that spiral stairwell, the staircase a ting a great beauty in its heritage colours.
  • Seeing the seals out from the point while having breakfast on the cottage verandah, swallows flitting about, blue wrens on the grass and New Holland Honeyeater in the bushes just beyond the stone wall.
  • Enid and Anna were the first to see the lyrebird along the Dunes Walk track
  • The rescue of the baby ringtail possum
  • Ian Mitchell taking us to see the Sea Eagles and their (vacant this year) nest
  • John’s finding just one Flying Duck orchid when it was time for us to give up and more on!!
  • My spotting the flash of red in the tail feathers of three Glossy Black Cockatoos. “There they are!  Please stop.  Back up.  They’ve flown that way across the clearing”  And we all were able to get a good look at them before they flew off, again displaying the flash of red.  Then it was time for us to be on the road for home too.

R. Flett (Vic), 2005

“From the moment Jenny met us in Bairnsdale, I was amazed by the excellent organization of this tour.  Firstly, we were whisked away to Bruthen for lunch where an incredible picnic lunch was set before us.  Chicken, ham, a  wide variety of salads, locally baked bread and more.  What a start!

Our first three nights were spent at Point Hicks.  Such a delight to lay in bed listening to the waves so close by.  We went on several very interesting walks including visiting the incredible dunes and nearby coast. What made the walks so interesting was the vast knowledge of flora and fauna by Jenny and others of the group.  I never knew there were so many varieties of fern!

As the stay ay Point Hicks Lighthouse was self-catering I had imagined peeling potatoes and getting meals ready.  Not so. Jenny produced sumptuous feasts before we even realized she was cooking.  Our job was the washing up, which we gladly did.  I so enjoyed the home-made and local products Jenny supplied.  All the jams, marmalades, pickles, sauces, were home-made or locally produced, and such a variety of teas – too many to try them all.

The next two nights we spent at Gipsy Point Lodge.  Thank goodness we were on a walking holiday, as again we were spoilt with excellent meals and the proprietor made us feel really special.  The walks were varied and interesting and the animals a delight.  Not forgetting the ferns of course!

I did so enjoy this short break away and felt invigorated by being active outdoors with nature.  My lasting impression is the quality of this tour.  Everything was first class and I thank Jenny for sharing her knowledge and love of this area with me.”

T. Newcombe (Vic), 2004

Soldier Crabs on the move at Croajingolong

“What an incredible Park- the natural scenery is unique and majestic and the flora and fauna superb.  Seeing whales so late in the year was fantastic, the seals on the Skerries were terrific, the lone black fronted plover [or Hooded Plover? -Ed.] on the beach at Wingan amazing, but the most unusual thing I enjoyed most was the army of blue Soldier Crabs on the move at the mud flats.  

There must have been thousands, all with a mission, they moved in unison with a definite purpose and when we got too near, wheeled off together in the other direction!  AMAZING! 

The bowerbird in his bower at Wingan was an added extra bonus, so all in all, a very rewarding experience.  Thank you Jenny.”

A. Pritchard. (NSW) December 2003

Impressions of my trip to Croajingolong National Park

On one of our walks from the lighthouse we went along the original track from where supplies were offloaded from ships onto the jetty ready to be hauled to the lighthouse site.  What a big undertaking!  The stamina and resolve of those original workers has to be admired.  It must have been a daunting task to haul all the requirements to build the concrete lighthouse, plus supplies for the workers.  With exposure to the extremes of weather and climate it must have been a testing time for the workers.  Those pioneers certainly had it tough!

During our walk back from the Thurra Sand Dunes, we chanced upon a lyrebird which was fossicking in the understory of the rainforest.  It appeared to be very tame and not the least disturbed by our close presence, but the minute one stepped off the track, that bird immediately took evasive action, so it was indeed keeping a very close eye on us.  To me it was a magical experience to be so close to a very special bird.  The delight was enhanced by the feeling of calm in the quiet of the rainforest where time seemed to stand still and the world and its worries a very long way away.”

J. Crakanthop (NSW), 2004

It was my first visit to Point Hicks and I was looking forward to spending time at such an historical site.  After an hours journey from Cann River the last bend brought into prominent view the top half of the startlingly white structure of Point Hicks lighthouse thrusting itself into the brilliant blue sky.

Our accommodation was in the assistant lighthouse keepers’ quarters.  The house was surrounded at the sides and back by high, dry stone granite walls. It was a lovely hot, dry, still day on our arrival but there is no doubt the wind speed would be extreme at times.

From the front porch was a multi million dollar view of Bass Straight and being on a promontory a potential opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean.  An historical marker on the rocks at the point was directly in front of the house.  This was the land first sighted by Lieutenant Zachary Hicks of Captain Cook’s first voyage of discovery in 1770.

We were fascinated by a group of perhaps two dozen or so Australian Fur Seals ‘rafting’ a short distance in the ocean from our porch viewpoint.  Even with a big swell and waves crashing over a rock nearby they floated (usually on their sides with one flipper waving in the air) as if anchored to the sea bed.  The three days we were there they were observed in exactly the same location at all hours of the day.

On our first full day we went for a walk to see the extensive sand dune systems at Thurra River.  As we walked past an unattended camp site set up with tents and equipment our group was captivated by three to five large goannas moving through the camp site.  One plastic rubbish bag had already been split open and contents strewn around. The giant lizards jostled for position sending the losers running for cover.  As we watched a large fellow easily climbed the trunk of a woody shrub and reached out to a second rubbish bag which had been hung in the bush to keep marauders away.  When the campers finally returned they would have quite a mess to clean up.

The next day we visited Wingan Inlet.  We walked to the ocean beach and along the beach to the entrance.  From there we were able to observe through binoculars a large Australian Fur Seal colony on a small rocky island at the entrance to the inlet.

The next day we said goodbye to our lighthouse home after a climb to the top and an interesting talk by the keeper.

We traveled the Princes Highway towards Mallacoota. A stop was made for a walk down to some falls on the Genoa River. Here we found six or more Gippsland Water Dragons basking on huge boulders beside the gently flowing water.  The Gippsland Water Dragon is a large lizard.  It is usually a shy species but in certain tourist areas they can loose their fear of humans.  We were able to get very close to them to get some great photos.

The accommodation at Gypsy Point Lodge was first class; the food rich and plentiful.  A walk up to the lookout at Genoa Peak was just what was required to help keep our waist-lines in check.  Stunning views were seen of the surrounding Croajingolong National Park.  Gabo Island with its lighthouse could be seen in the distance and that I hope will be a trip for another time.

Thank you Jenny for an enjoyable week. 

P. Stewart, (Vic) February 2004


Lake Tali Karng & the Avon Wilderness Bushwalk
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The Lake Tali Karng expedition                 

We were knee-less by the time we got down to Tali Karng,
We’d zig-zagged down the steepest spur to reach the hidden lake,
And all of us, whate’er our age, with walking sticks or not,
Found legs had turned to jelly—they’d had more than they could take.

We were breath-less when next morning we went back up to the top,
There was no other option so we simply staggered up,
But this was well rewarded with a rest in autumn sun,
And camp among the snow gums with a fire to cheer us up.

We were staggering the third day just to get our backpacks on
We’d filled those wine-cask bladders full [with water, I must say!]
And then we found a wall of scrub that wasn’t on the map
So back we tracked and changed our plans and had a pack-free day.

We were cruisin’ on the last day as we traced our steps back out,
‘cept for two who shall be nameless who went AWOL at a T!!!
We looked back o’er the mountains in the glow of setting sun,
And feasted in the dairy at a lovely B and B.

Diana Cross (SA), April 2004

Two unforgettable experiences – Forlorn Hope Plain & Lake Tali Karng

“Words are inadequate to explain or express the feelings, but here goes-  Wonder, joy, exhilaration, excitement, achievement, despair (when the pack had to be left behind –Tali Karng) bone weariness and an overwhelming sense of “YES”!!

The food was satisfying, abundant and enjoyable.  Tom was a clown and contributed enormously to the sense of fun and adventure.  Jenny (as usual) a tower of strength and support and encouragement and wonder woman!!. The place was indescribably beautiful – re-emerging in areas totally destroyed by fire with incredible vigour, colour and enthusiasm.  I do wish I could grow Black Sallees in Queensland!!

Both Forlorn Hope Plain and Lake Tali Karng were unforgettable experiences.

Thank you Sheina for the photo – I don’t mind being encumbered, I just feel photos don’t really capture the feeling, though the one you sent I will treasure.  And Diana (probably off again soon, if not already trekking again) Thank you for the opportunity to show the “grannies” that their Nan actually walked these places.  Shirley I hope to catch up with you sometime in the Flinders Ranges!

And Jenny – thank you – I will do it again!”  

Y. Lickerman (Qld) April 2004



Strzelecki Track & Cooper Creek – An Arid Environment Natural History Tour
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A REPORT OF A TRIP ALONG THE STRZELECKI TRACK, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the Travel section of the “Age” about the Strzelecki Track in South Australia and I couldn’t help thinking that there was something lacking. The writer had driven all the way from Adelaide, northward to Port Augusta, on and on through Parachilna and all the way to Lyndhurst – and then had turned around and gone back to Adelaide. The writer had not left the bitumen for a minute and had not touched the Track itself! Having driven the Strzelecki Track with Gippsland High Country Tours in May, it suddenly became necessary for me to right this terrible wrong and to write something about the real thing.

It is quite exciting to sally forth into the outback and to be able to get a good part of the way on the bitumen. Twenty of us, including Jenny, Tom and Raz, drove out of Adelaide with our first stop at Port Augusta. The highlight of this stop was a visit to the arid land botanical gardens. The whole of South Australia was extremely dry and so the gardens were something of an oasis with a large number of new dry-country birds to be seen.
From Port Augusta, we turned north, first to Quorn, a stop on the old Ghan Railway, and then parallel to, and to the west of the Flinders Ranges we followed the bitumen to Parachilna in the middle of nowhere. On the way we stopped at the ruins of a homestead/village that had been established in 1862 but abandoned in 1888 when ruined by continuous drought. Parachilna boasts a great hotel (and about three houses) where they serve wild food (road kills??). We had a choice of wallaby shanks, goat, emu pate and rather expensive beer.

Next day saw us still on the bitumen, generally following the old Ghan Railway line, as far as the small mining town of Leigh Creek and a little further on to Lyndhurst where the bitumen finished, about 300km from Port Augusta. Here, we turned right and moved in a north-easterly direction into the most desolate and inhospitable country that you could imagine. The Australian desert has a great mixture of landscapes, sometimes with lots of trees along dry watercourses, sometimes with broad gibber plains, sometimes with stunted bushes and trees in dust, sometimes with long red or yellow sand ridges topped with sparse shrubs. At all times the vegetation was wizened with the continuous dry weather. Apparently a drop of rain will bring it to life, but as we saw it the whole country was totally desiccated and miserable to say the least. The road was rough and dusty so that there was no way one could hurry. We stopped to camp for the night at a bore – the only water for about 450km. A few birds were to be seen, together with a few small lizards, the odd dingo and a solitary wild camel. Imagine our surprise when, at about 375km, we came upon a large surreal “city”. This was Moomba, the centre of a large oil and gas field, which is totally inhabited by workers flown in from Adelaide on two or three week rosters. There are no permanent inhabitants at all and yet the place is quite large in area – like a huge factory/oil refinery (which it is not).

Our destination was Innamincka (Pop. 18), on Cooper Creek at the north end of the Track, and then a camping area at Cullyamurra Waterhole about 20km to the east. This was a particularly picturesque spot on the Cooper Creek, with Coolabah trees, Casuarinas and Red Gums, sand dunes to the south with scattered scrub - and running water! It was amazing to see large areas of water in the middle of the desert. The Cooper is fed from north-east Queensland and never dries up. However, its water rarely reaches Lake Eyre, its theoretical destination – it just peters out in the desert. The official rainfall here is about 150mm per year (6 inches) but evaporation is between 2.5 ands 3.5 metres per year!
So that was the Strzelecki Track! Dry, rough and dusty but well worth seeing to understand what a harsh country we inhabit. The rest of the trip was highly eventful with many new birds and other beasts, the most magnificent sunsets you can imagine, the ancient relics and carvings of the aboriginal inhabitants of the area, the freezing waters of the Cooper Creek, the legendary Dig Tree and the story of Burke and Wills: all came to life once we were in that part of the outback. This is what the “Age” could have talked about – not just a pleasant drive inland along the bitumen. Of course, the “Age” didn’t have the services of our brilliant leaders: the unruffleable Jenny, the estimable second driver, Tom, and Raz, whose knowledge of the wild life made the trip especially interesting and enjoyable for all.

A. Monger  (SA) May 2006

Strzelecki Safari

While wending our long way home
I thought I’d write this little poem
A story of an intrepid twenty
Seeing sites of awe a-plenty.

Led by our unflappable Jenny
A person of skills varied and many
More than just cook, driver and tour guide
Her detailed approach ensured us a safe ride.

Tom, the other driver, tour guide and cook
Is sharp despite his casual look
He tackles all tasks with a ‘ho-hum’
And sets us a daily conundrum.

Tom is a tall and slender fellow
Who tells us what we need to know
With him there are no ‘ifs or buts’
About the relevance of nuts.

Raz has an insatiable passion
For natural things of any fashion
Looking for things quite absurd
Even the elusive gibber bird.

Raz has an endearing habit
Of haring off like a rabbit
To chase a goanna up a tree
Or a trailer tyre that’s broken free

Seventeen more make up the team
That set off on a Strzelecki dream
Two vehicles with trailer in tow
As up the Strzelecki we happily go.

As a group of comparative strangers
We travel past the Flinders Rangers
But as we made our desert loop
We became a close cohesive group.
Then on again to Cooper Creek
Where plants and birds we all did seek
Saw Bourke and Wills historic sites
And camped ‘neath peaceful moonlit nights.

Pre-dinner drinks and nibbles too
As Tom and Jenny prepared a stew
Dinner done we sat around
To ponder thoughts that Tom had found.

To Coongie Lakes next day we’re bound
Where rare bird species might be found
Jenny and Tom’s calm was tested
When trailer axle on ground rested.

With laden trailer left behind
Tom and Jenny were in a bind
Innamincka was our destination
With its pub and trading station.

A Cooper cruise with Peter Weir
Then to the pub for an ice cold beer
When allotted beds by Raz our host
To Outmincka Pub for the Sunday roast.

Yarns and jokes we then related
As for Tom and Jenny we all waited
The assembled gang were much relieved
When Jenny and Tom our bags retrieved.

While the errant axle it was mended
To domestic chores we tended
In the bunkhouse quietly reading
Or laundry machines reluctantly feeding.

Then our party was divided
On two options we decided
A motel stay with all mod cons
Or a sandy night camp in long johns

Now with the errant trailer mended
To Tibooburra town we wended
Visiting Cameron Corner and Fort Grey
On a double driving catch-up day

Then on and on to Broken Hill
Over sandy desert very still
Visiting sites of Charles Sturt fame
And a mount that bears John Poole’s name.

Milparinka famed for mining
Was our site for lunch-time dining
Amid the buildings long-time past
Amid the soil that’s seldom grassed.

Broken Hill is far from dead
On a diet of silver and lead
As the supply of ore abates
An extended diet of tourism waits.

Shearers quarters the next night
At Kinchega a beautiful site
To Menindee to see the Darling flow
Then on with awe to Lake Mungo

On the way to Lake Mungo
The errant trailer would not go
It was a broken axle again
Causing Jenny more silent pain.

With Erna as the traffic cop
We undertook a luggage swap
When the luggage swap was done
We then resumed our Mungo run.

With John Grimer as our guide
The sites of Lake Mungo we plied
On Mungo lunettes we carefully wandered
The weathering sands of time we pondered

From Swan Hill on the river Murray
Straight to Melbourne we better hurry
We leave behind the Benalla four
With memories we’ll treasure evermore

For pleasures rare and many
We thank Tom Raz and Jenny
So raise your glasses one and all
To those who made it possible

M. Sexton (ACT)
June 2006


Tasmania : A Natural History Tour
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Tasmanian Adventure

We, all fifteen of us have been on a trip supreme with something for all,
For some a long time dream come true,
Our leaders, Jenny and Peter,
Have done a grand job with patience and leadership skills quite superb.

They’ve catered for all tastes  and dieters too,
Meal times, fine wine, good company have made us all feel quite on top of the world.
The barbeques, pasta, the chicken bisque, the salads, so generous and healthy
But still, there was more, of course, it was Jenny’s fruit cake a finishing touch,
So we have all been so very spoiled,
And as we fell into bed, we once again felt at peace with the world,
Such a fortunate group.

Travelling around this wondrous small state,
We’ve enjoyed the history and changing scenes, Wineglass Bay and Bruny too.
Port Arthur, the convicts, wild forests and moss,
Lakes made by nature and by man as well,
And lets not forget the first dwellers here, who the early settlers treated not well,
Took all their rights and also their lives,
Till a race was extinct ain a very short time.

Remember the excitement when we sighted the mountain we’d all dreamed about,
The walks, the beauty and peace,
The uniqueness of place that nature had used with the plants and the trees,
To make it such heaven for you and for me.

Now lets look at us, have we done well as part of the team?
We’ve accepted each other just as we are,
Enjoyed the talks and companionship given so freely,
And, shared with each other the joys of this trip,
Which, thanks to Jenny and Peter, we’ve had.

How much we appreciate this special land,
So free, so unique, yet at times just so tough,
Well it’s only on loan to us for such a short while,
So we’ll hope that our leaders will offer us more of these precious times,
Not only to travel but also to find the true person within us, accepting all kind.
Oh yes, dear friends we surely will do,
More journeys with nature,
Learning adventures with Peter and Jen.

With gratitude,

J. Leatham. (Vic) February 2005


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  Gippsland High Country Tours
Gippsland High Country Tours  
PO Box 69,Bruthen, Victoria 3885 AUSTRALIA
 
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