Monday, January 27, 2014

Summer Snowy Mountains

We headed to the mountains for a weekend to cool down; it's slightly cooler up there than in Canberra, and when you live in a house without air-conditioning and the temperatures are in the mid-40s, this a welcome relief.

Wild brumbies

We walked to the Yarrangobilly Caves through shady forest paths.

The caves themselves are very dramatic and we explored on a self-guided tour in the largest cave, South Glory. It has typical limestone features of stalactites and stalagmites, shawls and cave corals.

Many have been given names such as the fleece or the judge's wig, but interpretative panels disapprove of this, preferring to classify them in geological terms rather than what they resemble visually to the lay-person. Killjoys!

A short river walk brought us to the thermal pool. Heated by a natural spring, it stays at the same temperature (27 degrees) all year round and, apparently is delightful when there is snow on the ground. It's pretty pleasant when there isn't.

The next day we headed to Lake Eucumbene and Old Adaminaby. The lake is the largest in the Snowy River Hydro Scheme. When the dam was constructed (1956-58) the valley was flooded and many of the buildings and homesteads of Old Adaminaby lay within the proposed flood zone. Over 100 buildings were transported on the backs of trucks and relocated to a site on the Snowy Mountains Highway but some remained. 

When the lake is low, some of these emerge from the lake and in 2007 following severe drought, Old Adaminaby began to reveal itself from the water after having been submerged for over fifty years. There is a strange but tranquil feel to the area.

Old Adaminaby

Anglers' Reach
At 1488m/ 4880ft, Cabramurra is the highest town in Australia and was established in 1954 to house the workers on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. The houses are all built with steep sloping roofs to allow the snow to slide off. 

The town is frequently closed off during the winter months with the only access being by helicopter. It also has its own skifield, which was the first in Australia to have lighting installed to allow skiing at night.

And then a run at Mt Selwyn. In winter this is a cross-country ski field; in summer it is a series of meadows plagued by flies.

Kiandra is an old gold-mining town and the birthplace of skiing in Australia. Apparently the name is a corruption of the Aboriginal 'Gianderra', which means 'sharp stones for sharpening knives'.

Now the plains are dotted with abandoned gold-mining equipment and the wind whistles eerily through the grave-stones.

Bond, Spaz Bond
Kiandra Courthouse - built 1890; restored 2012
The ruins of Kiandra's General Store
Alpine wolf spider
The Big Trout at Adaminaby

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sculpture Garden and Casurina Sands

It's hot; scorchingly so. One delicious way to cool off is to go to the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery. Amid fabulous surroundings, champagne and Pisco Sours are served (to complement the Lost Worlds of Peru exhibition at the Gallery), and Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture sculpture pumps cooling mist into the atmosphere.

On the Beach Again by Robert Stackhouse
Possibly my favourite sight.

Casurina Sands is hot. It was 33 degrees when we went running; baked red earth; scuttling lizards; and us.

I know how this tree feels

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tongariro Crossing

I've done this walk/run before a couple of times with Him Outdoors, but this time it was with the Weevil and family, and a very sore calf muscle. 

As I didn't want to overstretch things, I only walked as far as the South Crater with them, then let them go on ahead while I waited out of the wind for them to return. It was very peaceful sitting behind a boulder in a crater and listening to the sounds of nature.

Dad at Soda Springs
South Crater
Weevil and the Weevilettes at Red Crater
Nephew Olaf
Mount Ngauruhoe (also known as Mount Doom, apparently)
Niece Rachel

I took the following photo for Him Outdoors, as this was was the route we first attempted. Guess what the weather was like...