A Journey into the Snowy Mountains
Updated: Feb 6
Ever since I was a little girl reading "The Silver Brumby" I wanted to visit the Brumbies of the South.
Having grown up with, around, and on horses, I must say it was an amazing thing to see a Wild Horse, for the most part untouched by man, in its natural environment.
I decided perhaps 2 or so weeks ago that I would pack up my newly acquired (and relatively untested) 4WD "Nudge" and take off on a 5 day trip to see the Brumbies, around 6 hours South of me.
Now, shopping and packing for 5 days of camping; simple right? To be honest I had been "collecting" things for the past 2 months, but typically I left the most important thing (a power supply) until the last minute. Now I can tell you right now, I know more than the average person about some things that I never thought I'd need to know about; cars, batteries, car fridges, battery set-ups, solar panels, did I say batteries?
All set up and off I was!!
3 hours into the trip an amber "check engine" light came on. Close by was the iconic "Dog on the Tuckerbox" tourist attraction, so I pulled in and proceeded to beg mechanics to squeeze in one last job for the day. Shout out to the local mechanic in Gundagai who took a look at my car, reset a few codes and reassured me that in future "amber is ok, red means stop".
Now, about the Dog on The Tuckerbox, I feel that might need some explaining to the people not familiar with this statue.. The statue was inspired by a bullock driver's poem, Bullocky Bill, which celebrates the life of a mythical driver's dog that loyally guarded the man's tuckerbox (Australian English for lunch box) until death.
Now, after some hasty googling on the side of the road, (bored while waiting for the mechanics verdict) I know realised I needed two things in the imminent future, a place to stay for the night, and a National Parks entry permit to actually enter the park.
While my style does to tend to lean towards "winging it", it probably would have been handy to have pre-planned these things. In saying that, did I organise the second nights camp-site then and there? I think we know the answer to that.
My first night camping I stayed at Humes Crossing on the Blowering Dam, what a magical place! I must say I was quite impressed that I had managed to pack in my car everything I needed to make it a comfortable experience.
Photo's before setting up of course, the scenery was amazing.
Takeaway from my first night camping? Don't set your tent up on a hill. I spent the night wondering if it was better to have all the blood in my head or in my feet, at one point I even switched it up and definitely had more blood on the left side of my body..
Day two was a visit to the Yarrangobilly Caves, which only a year ago saw the same terrible fires sweep through that the nearby to me Blue Mountains experienced. This place is a must see, the caves themselves are amazing, as is the landscape. The hot springs I'm sure were also great, however halfway down the rather steep hill my inner voice kicked in and reminded me I would have to walk back up. Maybe next time..
Now back to the part where I like to wing things, time to find my next camp-site. I had a general area in mind, close to the Brumbies, but it turns out I had driven past that turnoff about 2.5hrs before I thought to stop and check. If you're rolling your eyes reading this, welcome to my world.
A quick stock up of steak and wine at Adaminaby, and one good chat to the shop owner later, I was now back on track, armed with local knowledge and an urgency to get to the place I had been told would yield Brumby sighting results.
The drive in was dirt road allll the way, but fairly well graded as it is the access road for the Snowy 2.0 scheme. Beyond that was reasonable, 4WD recommended but not vital.
Now of course I wanted to see the Brumbies before I found the campsite, even though it was getting on to 6pm.
There they were, hiding in plain sight on the open flats, camouflaged from a distance in a way only a wild animal knows how.
They were beautiful.
They were every adjective for magnificent you could possibly think of and more.
See more about my experiences with the Brumbies here
I know we are all familiar with the horse and likely we have all heard of a Brumby, but to see one in the wild, free to roam and live without the burden of steel & leather, is truly a beautiful thing to witness.
There is a magnificence about them, a calmness and tranquillity, and they have that despite years of persecution from man.
As I sat quietly and let them decide for themselves whether they would accept my presence, I took photos, thrilled to be able to capture these images, knowing I could share them amongst people who were interested yet unable to see them themselves.
I left them for the evening to set up my camp at the Old Snowy Camp. Another amazing place, no reception and far from civilisation. This night I learnt that even 3 pairs of socks won't keep your feet warm on a summer night in the Snowy Mountains, also that my tent is not particularly rain proof.
In the morning I went back to see the Brumbies who seemed to have not moved very far from the previous night, then sadly I set off back up the hill to begin my journey back to the main road leading further South.
Five minutes along the dirt track a flash of orange on the right amongst the ghostly Snow Gums caught my eye. I had the road to myself, I had the Brumbies to myself.
The Orange I had seen quickly took the form of a beautiful chestnut mare with a foal at foot. Further to the left I saw a beautiful Black Stallion, perfectly still, obviously trained in the ways of stillness and caution from his Dam.
With my camera up, hunting for the shots that would do my experience justice, more and more brumbies stepped out of the bush.
Mares and Foals, around 7 in total, all part of the Stallions little herd, all beautiful and healthy looking. They accepted my being there and went about their grazing, the stallion standing guard, naturally curious yet cautious.
The rest of my trip was just as beautiful, if not as special. I spent an evening at Charlottes Pass taking long exposure photos of a sunset. I took the chairlift from Thredbo Village up the mountain and hiked to Mt Kosciusko lookout. I went typically off-road on foot and climbed up part of the Ramshead Ranges, another thing ticked off my bucket list.