SNOWY MOUNTAIN MAGIC
Dedicated to families and friends of the 1997 Thredbo Village landslide victims.
© Max Merckenschlager
Winner 2010 ‘Broken Ski Award' — Snowy Mountains of Music, Perisher, NSW.
There are alps abroad more showy than our humble slopes of Snowy
and her mountains pale a ghostly grey when others strut the stage.
For compared to grander players like those awesome Himalayas,
Kosciusko is a novice – falling short beneath their gauge.
Yet this icon of our nation draws a feeling of elation
from the pilgrim when he greets her, and a burning lump that grows.
His Australian chest is swelling as a modest pride is welling –
there is magic in our sweetheart that instinctively he knows.
Over time we’ve rung the changes from our Snowy Mountain Ranges
and those mountain-folk that settled her with fortitude and grit,
who as pioneering strangers took their daily dose of dangers
and recorded life in folklore with their dry, laconic wit.
Tucked away beyond detection on each rampart-rimmed selection,
there were some who coaxed a living from their fragile Snowy soils.
Out of step with crowds and prattle, down her gullies trailing cattle,
rode our ballad-making drovers wringing cracks from leathered coils.
Once, her golden specks and seamers lured a canny draft of dreamers –
though the treasures most uncovered weren't in nugget, lode or pan.
But the vibrant forests' singing wed the strike of picks a-ringing
in her crucible of nature, gilding metal-hearts of man.
There’ve been rhymers and romantics, with their brushes and semantics,
painting images of Snowy in a time of legends gone;
when a plucky pony shuffled and the rising mist was snuffled,
as he stamped the ground impatient for a chase to start at dawn.
Later migrant tongues of many – shipped ashore without a penny –
rattled silent isolation while our Range was disembowelled
and from caverns carved & grouted, Snowy’s lifeblood gushed & spouted,
in a dizzy dash of gravity as turbines hummed and howled.
We've known bitter days and tragic sent to balance those of magic,
when our Snowy's wrapped and sold us in her chillers lashed by sleet.
For her fickle disposition flicks to fury from remission,
as she signals not to trust her – even modern lovers cheat!
And though barren peaks and covered in the smoky hazes smothered,
over valley floors are soaring still like spirits from our past,
lately pencil-plumes of Boeings frame the comings and the goings
of a trade-up generation groomed for living now, and fast:
swapping lathered hides and flannels for the brightly-polished panels
of their paint-and-metal brumbies, ironing wrinkled roads of tar;
sporting fibreglass and polys, in designer-wear with brollies,
for the current crop of faithful worships Banjo from afar.
Not the billy-tea and damper for each power-pointed camper,
not the lonely swag in mountain scrub a week along the trail.
Not the icy fords for dipping – into heated spas he's slipping –
and the rigours of the saddle conjure thoughts that leave him pale!
Now it's bunker down in chalets, tipping waitresses and valets,
watching electronic bushrangers relieve us at their tills,
while the snow-machines are spraying to prepare her slopes for playing,
and a GST's been added to our hinterland of thrills.
Yet beyond the tourist hustle where her wrens and robins rustle,
in a download operation cutting cords of phone and car,
we can ride the range of fancy with our hero-ghosts like Clancy,
and the smell of eucalyptus to remind us who we are.
By the tarns and rills of Kosci, where the air could stall a mozzie
in a swirl of flakes that happen any random summer's day,
we may spot the ochre-painted and perhaps become acquainted,
when her black and gold Corroborees are "ribbitting" at play.
In the reaches of her rivers, where the duckbill delves and quivers,
by leafy tracks where wombats pile their droppings up on stones,
we may cast aside pretentions and reliance on inventions –
take a smoko from reality and pacing with 'the Jones'.
Yes, a spell off-road in dreaming where her water's gently streaming
over sands that yielded pickings in those panning days of old,
stirs a sense of awe and wonder in each present day down-under,
as that Snowy Mountain magic claims another in its hold.