Monthly Archives: August 2009

Judy’s Photos

As promised in the “Into the High Country” post, here are a few of the photos taken by Judy-of-the-white-crash helmet.

The first image is climbing up the Bennison Spur on day one of the trip. As I noted in the book, it was a mighty steep climb, which I think you can tell from the photo, but it also afforded us fabulous views. The next two shots are Bryce Gorge, with the waterfall, which we saw on the second day, and another fall from the third day—both indicative of the kind of splendor with which our days were filled.

Bennison Spur

Bennison Spur

Bryce Gorge

Bryce Gorge

Conglomerate Falls

Conglomerate Falls

The final two shots are the view from the top of Mt. Wellington and lunch at Lake Tarli Karng. The shot of Tarli Karng makes it fairly clear that our descent to the lake was steep. We had come down on the side of the lake to the left as you look at the photo. So as glorious a location as one might imagine, but not easy to get to.

View from Mt. Wellington

View from Mt. Wellington

Lunch at Tarli Karng

Lunch at Tarli Karng

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The Man from Snowy River

In my comments about the riding trip, both here on the blog and in my book, I mention “The Man from Snowy River.” This may not have a huge amount of significance for readers outside Australia, so I thought a little additional information might be helpful.

First it was a poem written in the late 1800s by A.B. “Banjo” Paterson, among Australia’s most famous poets. You may have heard one of his works without realizing it, as he wrote the poem “Waltzing Matilda,” which, once set to music, became internationally famous. In Australia, “The Man from Snowy River” is the poem every kid grows up learning—sort of like Americans learning “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” back when the TV show was still on and every kid wanted a raccoon-skin cap. He was “the man.” Paterson’s poem recounts the astonishing, death-defying ride of a mountain horseman, an event Paterson witnessed during one of the many times he escaped his law office for the bush. The identity of the rider, however, was never confirmed.

In 1982, a lovely movie titled “The Man from Snowy River” was released. It creates a fictional back-story for the real events of the climactic ride that is the topic of the poem. Lines from the poem, and from other Paterson poems, are sprinkled through the movie, and, because he would have to have been there to see the events, poet Banjo Paterson (though introduced by his proper name, Andrew) is one of the characters—he is the solicitor (lawyer) who delivers “the colt from old Regret” to its new owner and stays on as a guest.

The character Clancy, who appears in the poem, was introduced in an earlier poem entitled “Clancy of the Overflow.” One line from this poem—”he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains unended”—is alluded to in the movie. In the movie, the character is played by Jack Thompson, himself something of an icon in the history of Australian film-making.

The film is lovely and lyrical, and the chase, the one that recreates the events of the poem, is fabulously exciting. The thing that made that rider from Snowy River (a mountainous area of Victoria not terribly far from where we rode) memorable was “that terrible descent”—a seemingly impossible ride down a steep mountainside. It would be hard to imagine recreating successfully, and yet the film did. Almost as remarkable as the ride is the stunning photography.

Here is an excerpt from the film that focuses on the final events in the poem, particularly the remarkable downhill ride (which the actor actually did in real life — no stunt double): Jim’s Ride.

For those interested in the original poem, it follows. An interesting note is that, as with the events in the poem, so too in the movie, all the crack riders from the area were gathered together. There were a few actors and a couple of stunt men among them in the film, but the majority of riders in the final chase were mountain men from the area where the filming took place. If you watch the titles, you’ll see that whole families showed up to participate.

Here, then, is Andrew Barton Paterson’s classic poem.

“The Man from Snowy River”
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses — he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight. Continue reading

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Into the High Country

If you’re reading my book, or if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough to have seen the post where I included a book excerpt about this, you’ll know that I had a pretty wild horseback adventure in the High Country, the rugged mountains of eastern Victoria. If you’ve seen the movie The Man from Snowy River, you’ll know both how glorious this area is and how seriously they take their horse riding.

This was definitely not the sort of place I could be carrying camera equipment. As a result, I have very few photos from this week-long adventure. However, I do have a few, as my camera was in the supply truck that met us regularly. Plus, Judy of the white crash helmet, introduced in the post linked to above, had a tiny pocket camera, and she supplied a number of great images, which I’ll share in my next post.

The images I have to offer are all from various camp sites. The first is just a shot of one of the camp sites, to show what accommodations were like: tight quarters, but what a view. The next is Guy’s Hut, one of the many historic cattlemen’s huts that dot the High Country. Non-perishable supplies are often left in these huts, to help travelers who might get trapped by a sudden, unexpected blizzard. The final shot was with riders mounted and ready to go one morning when the hardcore riders were offered an extra little adventure, just in case they weren’t being beat up enough with the regular riding.

Mountain Camp

Mountain Camp

Guy's Hut

Guy's Hut

High Country Riders

High Country Riders

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Melbourne Architecture

Each city in Australia has a very distinct personality. Someone once told me that, in Sydney, they want to know where you work, in Melbourne, they want to know where you went to school—and in Brisbane, they want to know if you’d like a beer. This humorous comment is a gross oversimplification (especially since anywhere in Australia, you’ll find folks with a fondness for the local brew), but it does reflect something of the atmosphere of these three cities: bustling, Old World, and laid back tropical.

In my May 25, 2009, post on Melbourne, I spoke of the city’s European feel—it’s the most European city in Oz— and elegant architecture. It is not just European in its appearance, but also in its mindset. People refer to the “Paris end” of Collins Street, where you find most of the cafés and boutiques. Replicas of clocks and statues from England adorn shopping arcades. And no raging British soccer crowd can top the folks in Melbourne for going wild at sporting events. (Though in Melbourne, you’d be watching Aussie Rules Football.)

As noted in that earlier post, the wealth of the gold rush led to a lot of fabulous buildings being constructed at a time when most of the folks in town had just arrived from Europe. I thought I’d share with you a couple of those buildings, just to show how impressive some of the older architecture is. Below are the Royal Exhibition Building, on the left, and the ANZ Bank Headquarters. (There are lots more wonderful old buildings, but a row of photos of buildings would be tedious.) And by the way, in Australia, the Z in ANZ is pronounced “zed”; the acronym stands for Australia-New Zealand.

Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building

ANZ Bank

ANZ Bank

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Flinders Street Station

When arranging a rendezvous, it is common for a Melbournian to simply say “Meet me under the clocks.” For locals, this can mean only one thing—meet below the row of clocks that are perched over the main entrance of the Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s imposing, Edwardian baroque railway station. This railway station is the oldest in Australia. It is also the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere, and that busyness is accommodated by the longest main platform in Australia (700 meters, or nearly 2,300 feet).

The row of clocks can be seen in the image below as a row of white dots above the door. These clocks show the times for trains, and when not serving as a landmark for a meet-up, they help keep Victoria’s commuters on schedule.

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station

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