Namadgi National Park Pt 3 The High Country

 

looking out over the Cotter Valley from Stockyard Spur.

looking out over the Cotter Valley from Stockyard Spur.

Aboriginal People  have lived in or around this area for thousands of years.  From about the 1820’s Europeans started to explore this area and from about the 1830’s cattle grazing commenced, initially on a transhumance basis.   Slowly remote and isolated grazing properties were established.   When Canberra was chosen as the site of the National Capital of the recently established Federation of Australia,  the borders of the Australian Capital Territory had to be established and in June 1910 surveyor Percy Sheafe was instructed to commence the border survey. All this has been well told by historian Matthew Higgins in his book “Rugged Beyond Imagination“.  in which, on the fly leaf,  he quotes from a poem by Judith Wright :-

“South of my days’ circle
I know it dark against the stars,
Full of old stories
that still go walking in my sleep.”

In his book, Matthew tells many stories.  He also  says that ” this is a powerful place, that it is on a grand scale,  is a land of bold ranges, tall forests, and clear streams.  After snowfall it forms a splendid white backdrop to the national capital, but is a dominant feature at any time of the year.”

All along the border one may find the border survey markers, a line of stones hiding in the undergrowth, or sometimes in full view on rocky areas,  the mid point of which conceals a survey post hammered into the ground.   Nearby one can often find a large blaze cut into a tree with the surveyor’s marks on it.   Unfortunately some of these no longer exist, the trees having succumbed to old age, wind, or fire.

A.C.T. Border marker on Sentry Box Mountain showing the precise line of the border.

A.C.T. Border marker on Sentry Box Mountain showing the precise line of the border.

A.C.T. Border Marker, Brindabella Range

A.C.T. Border Marker, Brindabella Range

On this blaze part of the surveyor’s symbols have been burnt by fire.

The high country of the A.C.T would , I guess, be that which is higher than about 1300 metres for that is about where the sub-alpine woodland starts.  This woodland is largely comprised of Snow Gums with an understorey of snow grass, perennial herbs and scattered low shrubs.  The higher one goes the more sparse become the Snow Gums (Euclyptus pauciflora) and the more stunted is their growth.

Flowers are “everywhere” in spring and summer and where bad fires have recently  burned (such as in 2003)  the understorey shrubs have created dense thickets.

The highest ridge in Namadgi, in fact in the A.C.T., is the Brindabella Range, the crest of which forms the A.C.T.’s western border with NSW.   The highest peak of this Range is Mount Bimberi,  (1913 metres, 6276 feet) closely followed by Mount Gingera and Mount Ginini (1857 metres or 6093 feet, and 1762 metres or 5781 feet respectively.  The higher points of this range are right on the tree line.   In winter, snow will often lie here for weeks.

View across the Cotter Valley to the distant Tinderry Range in New South Wales

View across the Cotter Valley to the distant Tinderry Range in New South Wales

View from Mt Gudgenby to Mt Bimberi, highest point in the A.C.T (just left of centre)

View from Mt Gudgenby to Mt Bimberi, highest point in the A.C.T (just left of centre)

          As one get higher, the trees thin out, until one is on the treeline.

Subalpine Snow gum Woodland

Subalpine Snow gum Woodland

Sentry Box Mountain - summit ridge

Sentry Box Mountain – summit ridge

On Mt Murray's summit

On Mt Murray’s summit

walking up to the summit of Mt Franklin - typical vegetation around the treeline - scattered Snow Gums, herbs and shrubs

walking up to the summit of Mt Franklin – typical vegetation around the treeline – scattered Snow Gums, Snow Grass,  herbs and shrubs

After a bad fire the regrowth usually becomes very dense

After a bad fire the regrowth can be very dense - Narrow-leaf Bitter Pea (Daviesia mimosoides) in Snow Gum woodland near Mt Ginini

After a bad fire the regrowth can be very dense – Narrow-leaf Bitter Pea (Daviesia mimosoides) in Snow Gum woodland near Mt Ginini

During spring and summer wildflowers abound.

Highland Golden Moths Orchid ( Diuris monticola)

Highland Golden Moths Orchid ( Diuris monticola)

Meadow near Pryor's Hut, Brindabella Range

Meadow near Pryor’s Hut, Brindabella Range

Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) flowers on summit of Mt Gingera

Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) flowers on summit of Mt Gingera

Leafy Bossiaea (Bossiaea foliosa) in Snow Gum woodland near Mt Ginini

Leafy Bossiaea (Bossiaea foliosa) in Snow Gum woodland near Mt Ginini

Bossiaea foliosa

Bossiaea foliosa

Leafy Bossiaea

Leafy Bossiaea

Bossiaea foliosa in the Mt Ginini area

Bossiaea foliosa in the Mt Ginini area

Snow often falls on the high country and may lie for weeks.   Sometimes snow falls in summer, too.    However, climate change is having an effect : snowfall is far less than in the past, and given that these mountains are not very high,  many plant species my die out as they have nowhere higher and colder to go.   Our fragile earth.  Will we save it?  I doubt it.  In this world, politicians and developers and miners are in league and  are motivated by greed.

Snow on Mt Gingera, from Square Rock

Snow on Mt Gingera, from Square Rock

Spring Snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

Spring Snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

Spring snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

Spring snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

Spring snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

Spring snowfall on Sentry Box Mountain

There is great beauty in Namadgi, but especially in the high country.

Mt Jagnungal and the Main range, Snowy Mountains glinting with patched of snow on the far horizon from summit of Mt Gudgenby

Mt Jagungal and the Main Range, Snowy Mountains, glinting with patches of snow on the far horizon from summit of Mt Gudgenby

Mt Gingera Summit ridge

Mt Gingera Summit ridge

Little Ginini summit

Little Ginini summit

camp on the heights of the Brindabella Range

camp on the heights of the Brindabella Range

snow gum leaf against the sun

snow gum leaf against the sun

Late afternoon - Snow Gums on Mt Gingera

Late afternoon – Snow Gums on Mt Gingera

Evening storm light over Namadgi

Evening storm light over Namadgi

Evening light over Namadgi

Evening light over Namadgi

Evening from Mt Gingera - Tantangara Dam in the distance

Evening from Mt Gingera – Tantangara Dam in the distance

Red Rays of Evening on Snow Gums & Granite

Red Rays of Evening on Snow Gums & Granite

A snow gum catches the last rays

A snow gum catches the last rays

Snowy Flat and distant Tidbinbilla Mt. from Mt Gingera

Snowy Flat and distant Tidbinbilla Mt. from Mt Gingera – sunrise

 My book, with further photos of Namadgi and a plea for wilderness  and its importance to life on this planet,  titled “A Night on a Mountain in Namadgi National Park”,  may be viewed at and purchased from Blurb.com

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