Follow the progress of passionate environmental supporter and hiker Campbell Gome as he treks the Australian Alps for Climb It For Climate.
We continue our trek through the Australian Alps and I near my target goal of $1000. Should my walk inspire you, feel free to donate to my Climb It For Climate adventure here, or join up yourself!
This morning we crossed a ridge from Dead Horse Creek and followed Claire Creek upstream. This delightful little creek is carving its way through an unexpected seam of limestone — we even passed an old marble quarry! Perhaps it was the limestone that made me feel so welcome and at home. The limestone of Danggu (Geike) Gorge was one of the first rocks I got to know and recognise in my early primary school years in Fitzroy Crossing, and the limestone caves and freshwater lakes near Nelson and the beaches at Walkerville and Cape Bridgewater are also favourite spots.
Elevation gained today: 400m
Total elevation gained: 19405m
Distance today: 26km
Total distance: 428km
Alerting the Keeper of the Waters. Photo: Campbell Gome.
There was heavy rain in Gippsland the week we started walking and I had some concerns about crossing rivers if the water levels were up. AK, my 'extended family' niece from Fitzroy Crossing, a Walmajarri woman, gave me this advice:
“...Take care Campbell and be safe, sounds like a big adventure, when you're walking, call out to the Spirits of the land and say you're a stranger, on country, that you're only passing through!, always respect the deep swimming pools,remember to rub a rock under your arms and throw it into the water to alert the Keeper of the Waters …”
I've tried to follow her advice.
In 2016, I learned from an interpretive sign at a rock art site at Carnarvon Gorge that, for the Bidjara and Karingbal People, a stencil of the left hand represented giving something to Country, and the right hand represented taking something from Country. Today, we crossed the Murray River by stepping over it and I offered my rock with both hands as a gesture of both gratitude for the privilege of living and walking in this Country and commitment to trying to do more to listen to, learn from and walk with the people who've lived here, caring for Country and community for millennia.
Elevation gained today: 590m
Total elevation gained: 19995m
Distance today: 21km
Total distance: 449km
I was pretty awestruck by the view of the Ramsheads dusted with snow as we rounded a bend in the track this afternoon before descending to Thredbo Village. It was my first glimpse of the peaks of the main range, and I was moved to tears — a combination of the beauty of the mountains and relief at getting to our next food drop and the end of a tough stage.
Elevation gained today: 815m
Total elevation gained: 20810m
Distance today: 27km
Total distance: 476km
Today was (notionally) a rest day while Marc catches up with old school friends, we do a load of laundry, and load up the packs with our fifth and penultimate food drop.
But the weather was fine and the chance of a sneak peek up on the main range called, so I had a ‘packs-off’ walk up along the river, past the Ramsheads, and on to Eagle's Nest.
In honour of the rest day I took the chairlift back down. I also had time for a shower and some reading.
Elevation gained today: 650m
Total elevation gained: 21460m
Distance today: 11km
Total distance: 487km
Anzac Day. This morning I woke early, watched the sunrise and thought about all those who've fought to defend this country. Including:
Jandamarra, the Bunuba warrior who led a three-year guerrilla warfare campaign when the frontier wars entered Kimberley in the 1890s. There are books for children and adults about Jandamarra and the Bunuba resistance as well as plays and documentaries. This story should be as well known as that of Ned Kelly or Eureka.
Stephen Eric Gome, my paternal grandfather who served with the 2/4th Field Regiment in North Africa and Southeast Asia during World War Two. At the end of the war he was hospitalised for some time with what was then called 'hysteria' and would now likely be diagnosed as PTSD. Those who knew him before the war said he was a changed man forever after. To me he was always a gentle, loving and much loved grandfather who took pleasure in his well-tended garden, his well organised shed and always kept a tin of Kool Mints in the glovebox of his Torana.
Bert Rostkier, my great uncle. For many years I assumed the tattoo on his wrist was from Auschwitz. Only as a teenager did I learn that like my maternal grandmother he'd come to Australia between the wars. The tattoo was from his time as a prisoner of war in Changi.
Lest We Forget.
Today we left Thredbo, skirted the summit of Kosciusko and headed north along the main range under clear blue skies further into Ngarigo country. The alpine meadows and scenery were equal parts ‘Middle Earth’ and the ‘Sound of Music’. Signs at Rawson Saddle tell the stories of Maliyan the ancestral eagle, Dyillagamberra the local rainmaker and Gadi Maralang the ancestral brown snake. These are not my stories to share and belong to, but they enriched our experience of this place.
With time up our sleeves, Marc and I took a detour to circumnavigate Blue Lake which is the only ice carved lake on mainland Australia. A beautiful spot with the off-track scramble back up to the Mt Twynham Saddle providing a bit more adrenaline and adventure than expected.
Elevation gained today: 540m
Total elevation gained: 21350m
Distance today: 15km
Total distance: 502km
Campbell's hiking buddy Marc pictured as the crew hikes 2000m above sea level. Photo: Campbell Gome
After a cold but flat night's sleep on a terrace formed by solar fluction, we spent most of the morning traversing north along the granite-nobbled spine of the main range, usually travelling 2000m above sea level. There were many huge boulders, little tarns and frozen puddles. In the afternoon we turned west onto a track from the Snowy Hydro days, arriving with plenty of time to do some washing and reading.
Elevation gained today: 410m
Total elevation gained: 21760m
Distance today: 14km
Total distance: 516km
Our dream run with the weather continues. This, along with a day on well formed jeep tracks, allowed us to cover quite a bit of ground. I also had time for a side trip for a swim in the cascade above Valentine Falls. At sunset we climbed a bit above our campsite on the Tumut River to watch the full moon rise over Jugungal. Jugungal is at the headwaters of the Tumut, Geehi, Tooma and Doubtful Rivers and Bogong and Hut Creeks.
A couple of days ago we were talking to the crew installing the new boardwalk from Thredbo to Kosciusko. It looks great and is nearly done. The boardwalk is designed to both protect the delicate alpine meadows from the large number of people who walk it, and to be accessible. The metal mesh path is smooth and wide and is a continuous stretch with no steps. We asked about the materials left over from the previous stepped path. Most will be removed, however at least one section will be left 'in situ' as a family of pygmy possums has taken up residence underneath the mesh. The mountain plum pine in the right of the photo is a favourite food of the pygmy possum. Although it stays low like a ground cover, it smells very much like a pine tree.
Elevation gained today: 500m
Total elevation gained: 22290m
Distance today: 27km
Total distance: 543km