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  • Shelley Dark

#3 The old house

Bobundra breakfasts include freshly juiced grapefruit, orange, carrot, ginger, beetroot and turmeric. One glass of this delicious purple concoction on Sunday morning and I was ready to rope a bullock.

Fortunately I didn’t have to - we walked along the creek instead, towards the rocky hills north of Bobundra. That's Fiona identifying a native plant - she's a walking botanical encyclopaedia!

​Here's Susie picking perennial pea flowers, a remnant of Chinese habitation here at Bobundara. When the gold rushes failed in Monaro, those miners who couldn’t afford to pay their way home to China camped in working groups on local properties. They were famous for their productive gardens.

Their asparagus is still growing wild in the middle of the paddock. I’ve never had it picked and eaten straight from the ground before. Thin spears, so crisp and crunchy that mine almost tasted like an apple.

I read the other day that when you're posing for a photo, you should make 'holes' with your limbs, so your body isn't one big solid blob. The girls took the instruction and voilà! Supermodel stuff!

As we walked and listened to Trisha's stories of this land, I was struck by her deep sense of place, so common to people on the land, as if the roots of their souls have reached down deep into the soil, anchoring them firmly against the elements. Put simply, they belong.

We asked the tin scarecrow in his drizabone if he'd like to come to lunch at the Wild Brumby, but he declined on the basis that he couldn't move, so we kissed his cheek and left. The Thredbo Valley was calling.

The Wild Brumby is on the Alpine Way, past Jindabyne.

​Owners ex-ski-instructor Brad Spalding and his Austrian wife Monica are passionate about their gin and schnapps distillery and the quality of its award-winning product. Combined with the modern-rustic architecture of wood, sheet glass and rusty steel, the contemporary sculpture garden, and the delicious Austrian style menu, it's become a must-see destination when you're in the area.

Wild Brumby schnapps is made from only the best quality fermented fruit with stems removed. They’re known for a superb product: raspberry, sour cherry, william pear, sour apple, chilli, and more. We taste tested each of them neat, on ice. Probably recommended only for hairy-chested mountain men. Or women.

They also make different gins - I loved the raspberry gin made from their own raspberries. Also neat on ice, or with a little soda. Don’t think you can drink gin with soda? Try this one!

We shared a lunch of a few delicious tasting plates, cheeses, smoked trout pâté, then wandered the garden. I loved the polished trails on this huge natural granite rock.

Steel spheres made from different materials...

The funny loo building!

A clever cutlery chandelier.

A huge canvas of a snowfield by the owner Brad who studied at the School of Art Melbourne. Don't you love it?

And another of his works: the postcard enclosed with my embarrassingly big schnapps and gin order delivered to home. Where's the missing skier???

We drove on to the wild country, spectacular and densely forested. Probably similar to where the Man from Snowy River careered down the slope on his horse!

These days it's a ballet dancer who entertains the boatees on Lake Crackenback, a ski resort without a ski slope, near the ski tube. If you’re not a skier, it’s like the London tube, except this one is Austrian-designed and goes through a mountain tunnel six kilometres long and up to five hundred metres deep. It delivers skiers right through the Ramshead Range to the Snowy Mountain ski slopes on the other side.

On the way home we were all out of the car to photograph the old Wullwye (now Woolway) stone shearing shed - it's thought that it may once have been Hamilton's store.

Trisha said these exact granite rocks feature in the movie Jindabyne.

Lainey's inviting garden gate

I drove away from Bobundara after breakfast on Monday morning, leaving Trisha to her office work. I was to have lunch with Lainey, an old friend on a property north of Nimmitabel, and one of the heavies at the party on Saturday. Then Howard was to pick us up for a tour of what’s thought was once was our hero’s property.

Green spaces are essential for drought sanity - thankfully Lainey has a water supply pumped up from the valley below.

And she's a dab hand at a zucchini bake.

It's the most beautifully wandering, romantic garden....

We ate lunch on the shady deck at the top of these steps.

Howard was on time to take us to the scene of our main character’s house west of town in a creek valley just below the ridge. Wouldn’t he be amazed if he could see the wind turbines today?

The stone foundations are about eight metres square, with the fireplace at the back. A wood house would have been built on this footing. Nearby in a round depression is what Howard thinks may have been an underground grain silo. On the hill behind it, overlooking the valley, the remains of perhaps a chapel. Poignant reminders of how hard life was for these pioneers.

Howard and Lainey

Howard refused to allow us to open any of thirty or so gates we went through! We drove up breath-catching almost vertical rocky slopes, chasing remains of low stone walls the Chinese built all over this country. When Howard expressed his pleasure at the sure-footedness of his new four-wheel-drive, both Lainey and I were in total agreement!

We had wonderful views of the river country below with this intriguing amphitheatre made by the McLaughlin River.

I drove back to Bobundra that night just on dusk, feeling so grateful for Howard's generosity and Lainey's company, so happy to have found something tangible belonging to our hero, mesmerised by the light of the setting sun on the hills.

The few sheep I saw were grazing on the creek flats, their wool outlined by the sun's rays behind them.

​At every turn, another photograph.

Utter peace.

That's enough for today, buddies. I'll tell you about finding gold at Braidwood tomorrow. Until then, I wait you.

shelley dark, writer 

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