We gathered in the cool morning air in Tumbarumba, unaware of the great day that was to unfold.
Tumbatrek was once a tourism initiative by former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Tim Fischer and revived in 2012 by Riverina federal member, Michael McCormack.
A number of senior politicians were present, along with a number of high school students who were preparing for the Kokoda track walk.
I had visions of a simple amble along a local track, some scones perhaps, and then a few speeches before everyone skived off.
Instead we were bused, courtesy of mayor Ian Chaffey’s bus and coach company, into the stunning Kosciuszko National Park. Our tour guide was no less than the deputy manager, assisted by the Snow Hydro visitor centre’s manager.
As we drove through, our guide described the cycle of vegetation regrowth following the extensive 2003 bushfires.
We stopped at the highest town in Australia, Cabramurra, at 1448 metres, before arriving at Bradley and O’Brien’s Hut, an old bush hut, where we were briefed by Michael McCormack. We walked a short distance down the sealed road to the Manjar Road nine kilometre dirt track to Black Jack’s Bluff.
Black Jack’s Bluff houses a fire watcher’s tower and cottage, with stunning three hundred and sixty degree views. The walk was strenuous, but done in grand style. We were escorted by a porta loo and a cooler trailer, plied with fruit, cool drinks and at Black Jack’s Bluff a barbeque lunch. I’ve never had such grand bushwalking.
We took the opportunity to discuss many matters. Bob Kirk, a Goulburn councillor, Ian Jackson from Yackendandah and myself formed a middle brigade. Ian and Bob took the last uphill bit in style in the comfort of a four wheel drive.
Nan, my wife, and I took up with Ian Chaffey, the mayor of Tumba, discussing apples, blueberries and first settlement, as you do. Nan also took the chance to chat to some of the Kokoda kids. It was really impressive to hear positive stories from ordinary kids. Tumbarumba has a bright future.
At lunch at the top we were presented with commemorative medals. Nan was so proud of hers, she wore it instead of jewelry to dinner that night.
The bus trip back brought more stunning views. I must confess the walk induced some nanna-napping.
That night was to be a commemorative dinner, celebrating the success of the Tumbarumba Rosewood trail winning preferred bidder status in the expressions of interest process.
This was held at the Courabyra vineyard. It was a great night, great food.
There was great interest in the Tumut to Batlow section of the Gundagai rail trail.
We met Phil Barton, an enthusiastic supporter of Tumut. Phil ran a large car dealership in Tumut. Phil was so taken up with events surrounding his life he has written a self published book. The events in Phil’s life certainly strike a chord and the book is very interesting to read.
Sunday was to be an inspection day of sections of the Rosewood to Tumbarumba Rail Trail. Sadly, many of us had to leave early to meet work and other Sydney commitments.
Without a doubt. Tumbarumba and surrounds is a wonderful place to visit.
I am struck by one thought. We drove back through Tarcutta. This town once lived on the passing traffic of the Hume Highway, which now bypasses the town. The highway is gone, the truck driver’s memorial a testament to the hundreds of drivers killed on our roads.
But with the highway, Tarcutta is also going. What will revive these towns? The branch line railways are gone, rightly or wrongly probably forever. Rail trails, with some event marketing, is a proven model, both interstate and overseas.
Here is a picture of some young people. What can you offer them? The past can become a dwindling, disconnected memory, or a guide to shaping the future.
Let’s not throw away the past by letting it become an unmanaged ruin. Let’s find some way to give kids like these a bright future.