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Journeys : August September 2009
Destinations Towards Spion Kopje – Falls Creek Resort in the background towards the more demanding ungroomed routes in the high country of the Alpine National Park. Apart from healthy exercise and the simple pleasure of movement, the point of cross-country skiing is to get somewhere – to reach a new destination through new landscapes, instead of just sliding up and down the same hill all day. So, pick a morning with a clear blue sky and a favourable forecast, pack lunch, map, compass and wet weather gear (this is the Australian Alps, remember) and glide out on the freshly-groomed trail around the edge of the lake. Take your mobile phone – even away from the resort, coverage is good, so as well as emergency use, it’s handy to check up on the kids, busy getting huge airs in the snowboard park. If all goes well, the aim of the day’s journey is to ski along the white crest of the Spion Kopje Spur, directly across the forested valley from Falls Creek. It’s a 25 kilometre return trip – a long day, but in good snow conditions it’s much faster to ski than walk. The climb through alpine forest to the open slopes of Heathy Spur follows the route of the annual 42 kilometre Kangaroo Hoppet, Australia’s biggest event on the international cross-country racing calendar. From the crest, a swooping descent reaches the numbered poles of the Alpine Walking Track, which eventually crosses the summit of Kosciusko and beyond. At the Mt Nelse saddle, the route flattens towards Warby Corner, where at pole 858 it’s time to strike out across untracked snow towards Spion Kopje. A short and gentle climb is followed by a magnificent downhill run of more than two kilometres to a vantage point that looks across to the resort. Through binoculars, I can see ants scurrying up and down the slopes and a brightlypainted dragonfly hovering above the helipad, before buzzing off with its load of resort-hopping skiers across the Bogong High Plains towards Mt Hotham. The beautiful people lounging on the deck at Cloud Nine are smelling diesel fumes and fried chips and listening to the snarl of skidoos. But up here on Spion Kopje there’s only the gurgle of creeks under the snow, a whisper of wind in distant trees and the doleful lament – AAAAR, FAAAARK – of a forest raven. Then the phone rings. August / September 09 17 Charlie Brown Judith Viney Chris Viney
June July 2009
October November 2009