Stirling, winter

I have lost track of the number of times i have walked up Mt Stirling. In rain and fresh snow, summer drouth, bushfire haze, spring blaze of wattle, in thunderstorms and hail. But, in my experience, more than anything else, this is a misty place. I love that slow transition from the Circuit road, up through alpine ash into snow gum, and finally that rounded peak above the treeline.

And in spite of all my journeys, it constantly amazes me that something new always presents itself. This trip, mid June, a long walk to snow line, it was the wonderful ash forests on Bluff Spur, and that interface between the burn line and the unburnt forest higher up the mountain.

For many years, Baw Baw was my alpine escape on the weekend. That is a long and complicated story, revolving around a seven year affair with a community and a gorgeous bit of land on the slopes of Mt Toorongo, up above Icy Creek. After that was all over, I shifted my allegience north of the divide. I think i needed something more ‘alpine’ and I get that as I emerge from the trees on Stirling and get that first and wonderful glimpse of the long arc of mountains from Cobbler to Howitt and through to the Bluff.

alpine ash, Bluff Spur

alpine ash, Bluff Spur

snow gum

snow gum

snowgums, top of Bluff Spur

snowgums, top of Bluff Spur

bark trailing off burnt snow gums, a few years on from the fires

bark trailing off burnt snow gums, a few years on from the fires

Stirling summit

Stirling summit

theres always hope when you can manage to get a bit lost in the mist ...

theres always hope when you can manage to get a bit lost in the mist ...

snow gums, mist & silence. You drop back down the spur, to the Delatite, and back out to the wider world. So much appreciation for the pleasure of a quiet place admidst a busy and noisy world. Strange rocks weave out of the mist, you sense Mt Buller over that deep valley, the trees are quiet, but everywhere is the mark of lyrebird and wombat.

snow gums, mist & silence. You drop back down the spur, to the Delatite, and back out to the wider world. So much appreciation for the pleasure of a quiet place admidst a busy and noisy world. Strange rocks weave out of the mist, you sense Mt Buller over that deep valley, the trees are quiet, but everywhere is the mark of lyrebird and wombat.

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit to how much I love this place, how I feel drawn to walk into the misty trees, how I love those nights sleeping by the stove in the GGS hut, how my knees hurt from skiing those basins, how pissed off I feel as I watch people drive over the mountain in their 4WDs, and how I can’t help thinking they would get so much more if they would just get out of their trucks for a little while and walk amongst the silence and the bare branches of those fire-killed trees.  Australians are so restrained, we don’t wear our hearts on our sleeves,  and maybe thats a good thing. But I would hope we could acknowledge the power and beauty and quiet dignity of a place like this old mountain.

I feel endlessly blessed to have this place as my backyard and I feel better and just a bit clearer everytime I walk down off the mountain and out of those trees and return to ‘normal’ life.

“This is as real as the rain”.

One thought on “Stirling, winter

  1. I understand why you don’t like the 4wd track. but really there arent many around / above the treeline 4wd tracks in victoria? i can think of stirling, blue rag, and maybe mt wellington track off the top of my head? everyone needs a fair go including 4wders. stirling has always been a quasi resort. i have a lot of history with the mountain as well having gone to timbertop. but i think the track is good in a way as it does get people out into the alpine environment who otherwise wouldnt without mt stirling.

    [hi Christian,
    yes you’re right, there aren’t a huge number of 4WD tracks above the treeline. You could certainly add to that list – eg Brocks road up past Mt Lovick and Helicopter Spur, etc – and there are ways to get up into the higher country if people aren’t prepared to walk or want something other than the many sealed roads through treeless alpine country.

    But the Stirling road really is a travesty and eyesore. As for getting out in nature, I have lost count of the times I have sat on Stirling and watched dozens of 4WDs grind their way over the summit road without even stopping, let alone getting out of the car. If thats ‘getting into the environment’ I’d hate to see what ‘staying indoors’ looks like.

    regards, Cam]

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