Originally posted on Our Strathbogie Forest: And the other eight coupes due to be logged in the Strathbogie Forest – 369 ha in total. You’ve already logged some of the highest conservation value forest left in the entire Strathbogie Ranges…
The welcome arrival of Lesley, Marie and Michele usually leads to a walk. Today was no exception. Since they were on the way back to Melbourne this afternoon, the time between lunch and departure was fairly tight. We needed a route, preferably a circuit, of around 5km. At 5.05km, this loop fitted the bill.
Starting at the corner of Nicholls Lane and Jukes Rd we headed toward the Strathbogie Merton Rd on a gentle downward gradient. The dirt had been recently graded smooth to the driveway of the only farm house. This was a just few hundred metres down the 900m lane. Beyond was a pretty, little used, leaf-littered, dusty grey track. This track cut between dry woodland above. Below is a rustic dell including a rush bordered pond within romantic farmland, submerged in forest.
Turning left into the Strathbogie-Merton Rd began a modest incline on narrow winding white gravel. This road is closely skirted by forest across steep slopes and within deep gullies. All are dotted with beautiful, lichen draped granite boulders and formations. The grey green of eucalyptus leaves is set against the walls of white trunked manna gums. The salmon patches exposed by long strips of ribbon bark falling to the ground create a glorious summer palette.
Cresting the top of the rise, we made the transition to the rolling hills of wood bound farmland. The cultivated top of the Tableland. From there it was downhill to the Jukes Rd intersection. There is a short stretch of bitumen to the sharp “V” where the roads meet. Jukes Rd takes off up the hill in a climb that has to recover the previous loss of elevation. It is enough to get the heart rate going if you push it.
The usual wildlife presented. However, unusually, we saw a wallaby chasing a hare as they both bounded down the slope and over the road in front of us! Something I can’t explain. A white throated tree creeper was spotted working the tree trunks. Currawongs chimed and kookaburras laughed at our passage with gusto. We startled a pair of common bronze wing pigeons into a panicked flight. They looked very guilty. A large echidna was foraging in the bush, but dug in deeply before Marie could get a good look. Very sensible with Marie around! Three swamp wallabies suspiciously watched our progress from behind a fallen log. They looked like they were waiting to ambush someone, but fortunately it wasn’t us.
This was a very pleasant walk. A fairly steep rise through the manna, narrow leafed peppermint and stringy-bark forest to the peak would make an interesting side expedition. However, the tree clad crown might not lend itself to a view.
It is Australia Day. For the first time, I attended an Australia Day event. I have never supported the notions of nationalism and jingoism that the day implies.
I thought I might attend this year for the simple reason I plan to do more roving reporting for Tableland Talk. I want to attend more community events because I believe sharing and supporting each other is the pinnacle of human endeavour. I also want to acknowledge achievements recognised by the community. But still, I kept changing my mind. I wasn’t going, then I was, then I wasn’t, then I went.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Australia is a great place to live, with many great people. However, although I feel we are fortunate to be here in the land of Oz, I don’t believe for a minute Australians are any better than other members of humanity. We too are subject to human nature. We have the potential to be as good as and as bad as anyone else.
To my mind, a principal strength has been our adoption of other ethnicities and cultures – over time. The shameful treatment of the indigenous community being the glaring exception. Otherwise, I love the diversity and multiculturalism that is largely celebrated here. This should be the real reason to enjoy a national day, not the arbitrary “Australian values” espoused by desperate Conservative politicians.
Our un-revered Prime Minister Scott Morrison tipped me over the line. He provided me with a mode of protest. I wanted to make a statement as a rebuttal of Morrison’s anti-democratic announcement that he would “protect our national day from people trying to skirt the rules or playing politics”. How would he achieve this? By threatening elected local governments considering changing the day of their citizenship ceremonies and insisting attendees adopt a dress code imposed by the Department of Home Affairs.
Australian values or un-Australian, you be the judge. I for one chose to attend the local Australia Day gathering dressed in thongs, shorts and a T shirt. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone recognised my bold political statement.