We left Canberra the day before Christmas. After careful planning we agreed on being taken over the Snowy Mountains by car. Jeff and Gerda were so kind as to offer this to us and we gladly accepted it. The alternative was a riding highways for a couple of days, either north – northwest or south and west. It was a long drive, well over 200 ks. The highest pass we crossed was 1500 altitude. In wintertime these mountains are covered with snow and there is a lot of cross-country-skiing going on. Now it was striking to see the results of the fierce bushfire that had struck the mountainrange in 2003, almost ten years ago. As far as the eye could see there were slopes completely covered with the white-grey trunks of dead eucalyptus trees. An eerie sight.
They dropped us off one good hour's ride from Corryong in Victoria. There we stayed on a bit shabby caravanpark, where we were the only guests. We had just put up the tent and were finishing our shower, when an enormous thunderstorm raged over the site. Very strong winds broke thick branches from the poplar trees, dustbins rolled over the site and the rain swept in curtains. From the door of the amenities building we could not but watch our tent bending and shaking in this ordeal. It held! After maybe 10 or 15 minutres it was over. Streams of muddy water over the site, rubbish everywhere. The manager with a group of helpers, a chain saw and a UT (utility vehicle, a pick up truck) got to work at once. We just cleaned away some small branches from our tent, got dressed and hurried to the shop. It was Christmas eve and shops were closing early, we had to buy for two days. On Christmasday itself we had planned to stay at a forest camp in a place where there are no shops at all. Everything would be closed anyway. We were in time.
The next day we rode up a new mountain range and found ourselves again the only campers in this deserted place. A very special Christmas day. There was no phone coverage, so no contact possible with the home front. Sorry for that.
Now we're in Tallangatta. A sleepy little town along an artificial lake, for which it was replaced in the fifties. Many new campers arriving, all with speedboats on a trailer. On the lake there are already a number of these boats active, pulling water skiers. We will be gone tomorrow morning early, before they all start enjoying their noisy hobby again.