When I was a child I absolutely loved The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. I read them over and over again, imagining herds of beautiful silver horses running wild across the Snowy Mountains. They were full of drama, danger and great beauty.
Elyne Mitchell married Tom Mitchell, an upper Murray lawyer and grazier, in 1935. With Tom she rode, skied and camped in the Snowy Mountains (she even managed their cattle station while he was a prisoner of war during WWII). She wrote The Silver Brumby for her daughter Indi, and for her love of horses and the high country. The stories reference real places – the Ramshead Range, Dead Horse Gap, and the Cascades. Elyne clearly loved this landscape, and I think her books are so very beautiful because that love shines out from every page.
I went down to Thredbo Valley this autumn for a weekend away with my husband to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. As soon as we began discussing possible hikes, I announced: ‘I want to find the silver brumby.’
My husband looked at me as though he wasn’t quite sure exactly who he had been married to for the last decade. ‘The what?’
I told him all about it. Thowra, Bel Bel, Baringa, Elyne Mitchell, those gorgeous books and the fact that we were staying not fifteen minutes away from where they were set. My husband is a laid-back guy and is used to me dragging him to literary locations, and since he didn’t really mind where we walked so long as we were walking, he was happy to let me choose the trail. (And that, folks, is the secret to ten years of happy marriage). While he was out mountain biking, I did my research. Later that morning, we were heading further up the valley and into Brumby Country.
We soon arrived:
And sure enough (and to my great excitement!) we could see brumbies grazing down by the river.
We were doing Bob’s Ridge trail, a 10km track with a 378m climb through a wide river valley, snowgum forests and rocky outcrops. We parked at the Cascades car park and headed out.
The walk was spectacular. We followed the Big Boggy up the valley, crossing it before moving uphill into the snowgum forest. Behind us sat the Ramshead Range.
It was the end of September, and we’d heard nothing but talk of how awful the snow was at the ski resorts. Even so, there seemed to be tonnes of it around for us to trudge on through. For a long time I huffed after my endurance-athlete husband (no really, he is), placing my feet in his footsteps to make things easier on my decidedly un-brumbylike legs.
We soon reached the top of the ridge, and were rewarded with gorgeous views down into the Victorian Alps; the border is only 6.5 kilometres away.
And on to Bob’s Ridge!
After that came the climb down. We didn’t mind. We’d had hours of nothing but the silence of the mountains, the cawing of crows, the sounds of running water and melting snow. It was bliss.
No silver brumbies- but we did meet some deer. And after a day like this, seeing more brumbies didn’t really matter. It was already perfect.