Good Seasons Return to the High Country Jan 2006
Spectacular seed strike and regrowth in the Woollybutt (Eucalyptus Delegatensis) forests on Big Hill after the 2002 alpine bushfires are a testament to the return of good seasons and the remarkable relationship between fire and the Australian bush.
We start and finish our rides in the in the rich fertile Kiewa Valley, resplendent with mountain fed fast flowing rivers. An environment rich in agricultural abundance producing quality beef cattle, dairy cattle on the irrigated flats, wine grapes to be harvested in the autumn, olives, chestnuts and green tea.
As the horse team climbs the hills and mountains we witness a remarkable range of plant communities. The lower level forests of mixed species are a diverse and aromatic place with dry open woodland on the north facing slopes and temperate rainforests of tree ferns in the shady gullies.
Then we strike the woollybutts, a single species forests indicating the lower levels of winter snow, tall forests with a limited understorey. Here in the Alpine ash the spectacular post fire regrowth is most evident, with a thick carpet of young trees racing for the sky, to be tallest, to dominate.
When we strike the winter snowline on our climb towards the clouds we also move into the magical world of the snowgums. Twisted by weather and time, each tree a character with the seasons etched into its form. Beautiful in sunny weather and powerful shapes in the fog when the clouds descend on to the mountains.
To break through the tree line and out onto the High Plains, on your horse, is a moment that every rider treasures, a moment of freedom and promise that you hold for life.
Now I give my horse his head
On a sunny high plains day,
To freely canter as he will
Across the Pretty Valley way.