Their Torn and Rugged Battlements on High

‘Where the pine-clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky’

‘The Man from Snowy River’, Banjo Paterson

As you know I am a bit laid up at the mountain, but a young friend of mine has been out and about, and shared this guest post for you:

Kobie Notting: ‘Dear Victorian Alps, you really cemented a place in my heart this weekend. Your bipolar weather makes me love and respect you even more, even though you tried to kill me Saturday night. How lucky we are to live within a couple hours drive of this. P.S. Go hike the Crosscut Saw people.

     

You start from the Mt Howitt carpark.  You can do a day trip or an overnighter.. there’s a hut an hour in from the carpark that you camp at the night.. so basically drop your bags there and keep going to the crosscut. It’s a section between Mt Howitt and Mt Buggery where you’re just walking on the top of the ridge.

Views are just epic; just make sure it’s not going to be windy as there’s some sketchy sections like half a footpath wide with sheer drops, wouldn’t want it to be gusty. You could easy get to the view part and back in half a day. It’s only an hour to the hut, then from the hut another hour to the start of the crosscut saw. With a light day pack you’d kill it. It’s hilly but if you took your time you would be fine.

A reader writes: ‘Got stuck on the cross cut saw in a total white out and had to sit it out behind a rock for several hours. The clouds can move in on you very quickly. Take care. The drop below is called the Terrible Hollow for a reason’

Yeah it changes soooo quickly up there! See eg: https://www.trailhiking.com.au/crosscut-saw-mt-speculation/?fbclid=IwAR10nHuvI9Cb7lfLxLRvpCKLs3OoSXgNi3EPNkNoszvhKQovTdmJisrTGFY’

The High Country is always ablaze with wldflowers:

Kobie also posted this video to give a bit of an idea of how a living 360 degrees up there is like: https://www.facebook.com/kobie.notting/videos/10157010309837658/

Chilling out on the roof rack of the Troopie:

 Don’t know the full poem? One of the best ever written. Here it is:

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.

 

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,

No better horseman ever held the reins;

For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,

He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

 

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

 

But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,

And the old man said, “That horse will never do

For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you’d better stop away,

Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”

So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –

“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;

“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,

For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”

 

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,

Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,

Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,

The man that holds his own is good enough.

And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,

Where the river runs those giant hills between;

I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,

But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

 

So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –

They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,

And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,

No use to try for fancy riding now.

And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.

Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,

For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,

If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

 

So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing

Where the best and boldest riders take their place,

And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring

With stockwhip, as he met them face to face.

Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,

But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,

And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,

And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

 

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black

Resounded to the thunder of their tread,

And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back

From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.

And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their sway,

Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;

And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,

No man can hold them down the other side.”

 

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,

It well might make the boldest hold their breath,

The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full

Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.

 

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,

At the bottom of that terrible descent.

 

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill

And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,

Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,

As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

 

Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met

In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals

On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,

With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

 

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.

He followed like a bloodhound in their track,

Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,

And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,

He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;

But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,

For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

 

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,

And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The man from Snowy River is a household word today,

And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

 

Have you seen the film? Here is the short version to whet your appetite

Can you imagine galloping a horse down these precipitous slopes. This view (featured image) all used to be Wonnangatta Station type country and not so long ago stockmen droved cattle and horses all over it – just as I used to did when I was a youngster.

How could you not love these mountains?

See Also:

https://www.theultralighthiker.com/2018/06/02/mattresses-i-have-known/

 

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