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ALPINE PRAYER

The location -’Australia’ - and the  words ‘snow  country’ seem to come as a surprise to some people from other lands.

They have heard of the harsh ‘outback’ regions and of the tropical North but have been unaware of our beautiful alpine ‘High Country’. The snow season may be short compared to places experiencing deep European winters but there are many wonderful ski fields and opportunities for all kinds of snow sports for several months of the year. Magnificent scenery can be enjoyed at any time, each season presenting it’s own attractions.

The High Country is also home to the famed mountain cattlemen whose  bush knowledge, horseriding skills and sheer daring have become the stuff of legends. About November cows and young calves are herded up to the grazing leaseholds on the high plains and then mustered and brought down to home pastures the following autumn.

As I write this (January 2004) there has been a ban of two years put on cattle being  taken up onto most summer grazing. Fierce bushfires destroyed millions of acres of bush and native grasses in early 2003 and it is hoped to give the new growth a chance to establish again. Many cattlemen suspect that this may be the beginning of the end of their traditional way of life. I sympathise with them and agree that it will be a sad day for Australians if this page of our history is closed. However it will never be forgotten and will always be remembered and celebrated with pride in the same way our pioneering, gold mining and exploration feats are valued by those interested in preserving our Australian folklore.

Anyone who has had anything to do with cows (our family had dairy cows for years and  I milked  housecows for more than twenty years) must concede that they will always munch the tenderest newest leaves, even if it’s some precious bloom from your garden, in preference to what you have provided for them!  It is  claimed that cattle, their owners and even their dogs have introduced weeds and destroyed some of the more sensitive vegetation and wildlife. I have been told by someone who worked up on the high plains over forty years ago that cow pads across the spaghnum moss beds (the birth place of our rivers) were worn so deeply that sometimes an animal could be completely out of sight. This exposed the moss to the weather and it would dry and die during hot periods.

National Parks and protected areas are wonderful places. Visitors are able to see and enjoy the natural beauty of regional flora and fauna and soak up the local history. Departments in charge of their care have a duty to maintain the delicately balanced system and to be good  neigbours and custodians. Weeds , feral animals (including deer) have no place in them and definately should be eradicated so that they do not spread and  pose a threat to adjoining land owners.

Published:

1989..

Wangaratta Chronicle .
 

 

08/06/1990

W.P.R. 101.3. (Wangaratta Community Radio )
I read it on air myself !
 

 

21/06/1992

A.B.C. ‘Country Sunday’ programme.
Read by John Reid.

 

ELDORADO DREAMING

The little town of Eldorado was so named ,not because gold was discovered  in the 1840s, but for the discovery, earlier, of  Reid’s Creek (now Reedy Creek) by William Baker who settled on and named his holding ‘Eldorado Run’. secure in the knowledge of readily available water (indeed, as valuable as gold!)

 In the roaring days of the gold rushes Eldorado’s population was about 5000, much bigger than Wangaratta (then Ovens Crossing). Great quantities of alluvial gold and tin were mined, at first by sluicing, digging shafts, and then by dredging. Cock’s Eldorado Dredge, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, operated from 1936 to the 1950’s  and in that time got more than two million grams of gold and one and a half thousand tonnes of tin. The massive old construction  has been partially restored and sits in a pool near near the township. The restoration is a continuing project.

 The sports oval where I once competed in the Inter-School comps. was eaten up by the huge mechanical beast. I remember watching and  hearing the clanking buckets and chains as our school bus passed through the town each day on it’s way to Wangaratta’s Secondary Schools.

Eldorado these days is a quiet little place set in the hills, lots of bushland nearby and farms. Fossicking for gemstones, gold panning, camping, bird watching and horseriding are popular pastimes.

Published:

1995 (July)

The Eldorado Star

 

MARYBOROUGH GOLD

The American author, Mark Twain, when travelling in Australia in 1895, called Maryborough, Victoria, ‘a railway station with a town attached’! It was then a very busy place linking the gold mining towns and the railway station building was quite imposing. It  now is used as a tourist complex. The area  is agricultural, growing grain and logging.

 We visited  Maryborough several times in the  late 1980’s. Our eldest grandchildren were born there.

 

MURRAY GHOSTS

The old red-gum wharf at Echuca, on the Murray  River, may be only a fifth of it’s former one kilometre length, but it is a wonderful tourist and heritage attraction. Echuca was once the biggest inland port in Australia.

Wool and timber were transported by  riverboat to these wharves  from the 1850’s. The river traffic increased greatly after the railway terminus from Melbourne was established in Echuca in 1864, and agricultural produce of all kinds became regular cargo. However the coming of the railways also was responsible for the gradual demise of the river trade as the rail network extended.

The red-gum wharf had three levels, or decks, built on in the 1860’s, to allow for a change in water height of up to ten metres.

Several grand old paddlesteamers, beautifully restored, again ply the river, taking tourists on nostalgic journeys back into the past. As far as I know, only one, the Alexander Arbuthnot, still relies on steam power.

It is easy to gaze over the port area and the lovely old river, hear the churning of a nearby paddlewheeler and an echoing ‘hoot’ in the distance, and imagine the busy place Echuca once must have been.

Published:

1999..

A.B.P.A. (Australian Bush Poets Association’s Sixth Annual.

 

MURRAY RIVER JOURNEY

This beautiful river officially rises in the Snowy Mountains, welling up through snowgrass and beds of sphagnum in a location known as The Pilot. It then runs across three States for more than 2500 kilometres draining more than a million square kilometres of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, taking seven weeks for the journey from the high country to the sea.

Aboriginal tribes have lived in it’s vicinity for many thousands of years and the river provided them with a diversity of animal and plant life to use for food, tools, weapons and shelter.There are still trees to be seen with scarred trunks from which bark canoes have been cut.                    

An aboriginal legend tells that the river was created by a giant Murray cod which wriggled
it’s way down the Darling River into the Murray and  then formed the long twisting watercourse through the land until the creature was snared. The violent thrashing fish then formed Lake Alexandrina and the Coorong in it’s efforts to escape.

The explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell crossed the river in 1824 but the name it bears today, the Murray  River, was given to it  by Charles Sturt on his 1829-30 expedition. He also named the Darling River and then followed the Murray to the sea.

I hope Australians are realizing the importance of caring for this great river. It cannot support huge populations, it cannot support wasteful irrigation practices. Water greedy (and high chemical using) agricultural pursuits and anything causing pollution should be banned.  Keep the river beautiful by keeping it healthy and we all will benefit.

Published:

2000..

‘The Bronze Swagman’, Winton, Queensland .

 

OUR SCHOOL

Everton Upper Primary School No. 1198   

 

OUR SCHOOL, EVERTON

Our eldest grandchild began his schooling at Everton Upper Primary School No. 1198 but when this school was closed in 1993 he was transferred to the Everton Primary School No. 2031. A couple of years later his little sister joined him there. Their mother, our daughter, designed the ‘wedged tail eagle’ logo which adorns the children’s Tshirts and jumpers .These birds are often seen flying near the school.

 

VALLEY GOLD

Just a ‘love song’ for beautiful North Eastern Victoria.

Published:

1998..

Wangaratta Chronicle .
First place in  Annual Short Story and Poetry Competition.

 

WEEKEND AT 'BARWONNIE'

APRIL 2000 ....  Guess you’d have to be ‘family’ to know what this one was all about!
 ‘Barwonnie’ is a sheep station in the middle of  New South Wales, Australia.