“In the Shadow of Hume & Hovell”
I withheld the urge to release the shutter until the Eastern Grey hopped into a small patch of sunlight surrounded by the shadows of pine trees. My wife and I had just walked 9km of beautiful countryside, a couple of roos were a welcome distraction from the thought of having to turnaround and walk all the way back to the car.
It was only a fraction of the full epic 426km track which follows the footsteps of Hamilton Hume & William Hovell who in 1824 led an expedition to find new grazing land for the English colony. It was one of the most important journeys of explorations undertaken in eastern Australia. They kept west of the Great Dividing Range & traversed all the way to Victoria, which opened the way for settlement around the Port Phillip area, resulting in the founding of Melbourne.
Henry Angel Trackhead to The Juction Campsite where Hume & Hovell camped near Tumbarumba, NSW, is the only section of the track that we have hiked and it is amazing. It follows a shallow creek, in which you can see brown trout, it traverses through several landscapes, with historic mining sites scattered among hundreds of wombat burrows. If you’re lucky you will see a humble wombat, on this occasion we did not see one, but last year we saw seven!
In Hovell's journal he notes the importance of the dogs that accompanied them, which were essential in killing kangaroos to feed the expedition. Documenting the kills, the many injuries inflicted on the dogs by the kangaroos, and their emaciated condition during periods of low food supply when the dogs could only be fed on boiled flour.
He also regularly recorded encounters with Aboriginals, commenting on their methods of food gathering, tools used & land management techniques, such as grass burning and damming of rivers to catch fish. He seems to have been respectful and perhaps a little envious of the ability of the local people to live in a landscape he found hostile.
We dream of one day completing the whole track, but for the moment we are still novice hikers. What’s the longest or best hike you have experienced? I’d be interested to hear your story.
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