Every winter the media spotlight shines brightly on the Snowy Mountains. When will the first big dump fall? Will it be a record season? But what actually happens in the high country once the lifts stop spinning, the itinerant staff head back to the northern hemisphere, and the days become longer and sunnier?
Not surprisingly, the annual snow melt means different things to different people.
For the park rangers who look after the roof of Australia, spring means a collective sigh of relief after a long winter of managing traffic snarls.
"I'm a bit of a junkie for the wild weather of winter, but spring is a time when everything feels calm, a time of renewal, refresh and seeing some sun again," reports Tim Greville, a ranger at Kosciuszko National Park since 2007.
According to Tim, "there's definitely less people around, but it's surprising just how many people do come up to enjoy the last snow drifts or to see snow for the first time because they can see it and touch it without the crowds of winter".
Tim does, however, offer a word of warning for anyone planning to explore the high country in spring. "Walking tracks on the main range are still partly covered in snow, so please take care, especially if the visibility is poor," he advises, adding "you need a map and compass or be able to navigate safely where you can't see the walking track".
The Lodge Owner
For Bob and Anna Tait, the owners of Corroboree Lodge in the Perisher Valley, spring means an opportunity to finally catch their breath and to undertake annual maintenance jobs.
While Bob can often be found up a ladder sprucing up the lodge with a fresh coat of paint, Anna, who rarely gets a chance to leave the lodge at all in winter, loves to explore her giant backyard - the Australian alps.
Whether it's attempting to walk across the last snow bridges across the upper Snowy River or stumbling upon deer antlers (stags cast their antlers at this time of year, regrowing them in late summer), despite the ghost town feel of Perisher at this time of year, Anna wouldn't live anywhere else.
"I especially love a spring snowfall because it's just like winter, but without the noise because there's basically no one else here," she says.
Apart from natural wonders, every spring Anna also likes to make a pilgrimage to Mrs Mac's Cross - a giant cross of daffodils planted by Mrs Minnie McManus who was a long standing post mistress at the ruin of the Hotel Kosciuszko after it was razed in 1951.
"She initially started planting the cross as a 'drive-safely' inspiration campaign," reports Anna, adding, "however, following the sudden death of Bert, her husband, she completed the cross as a memorial him."
For kayakers attempting to paddle the Snowy River above Guthega, the snow melt offers a much anticipated opportunity for a thrill-seeking paddle, however downstream of Lake Jindabyne it's a different story.
"There's a misconception our water comes straight from the snow melt," says Richard Swain who runs multi-day kayaking tours down the lower Snowy River, adding "but it's actually Snowy Hydro that control the flows of water downstream of Lake Jindabyne".
While the Snowy River in spring is a mere dribble compared with its pre-Snowy Hydro Scheme levels (prior to the river being dammed at Guthega, Island Bend and Jindabyne in the 1950s and '60s), as a result of environmental flows the river levels do increase a little bit and the days get longer and warmer - so it's "the best time of the year for running river tours", Richard says.
"Though the present spring thaw is rapidly consuming the snow, the mountains at this time of year always offer much beauty and memorable experience," reports Matthew Higgins, intrepid bushwalker and high country historian.
Matthew especially enjoys observing the changing appearance of the mountains in spring, including, "the snow-flattened grasses and shrubs gradually re-erecting as snow recedes and the change in landscape colour palette as snowfield white gives way to green, brown and granite-grey".
During recent weeks many readers have sent photos into this column of dust storms that have blown across the Snowies giving the Main Range a distinct pinkish discolouration.
According to Matthew, "though dust on spring snow is not unusual, this year's was more extreme, and an indicator of the depths of this drought and, beyond that, perhaps another element of climate change."
A keen naturalist, Matthew also enjoys wildlife that the snow melt brings, "like spotting Richards Pipits darting from shrub to shrub and observing the Little Ravens building nests as the breeding imperative sweeps the mountains".
"Calling in at Kosciuszko National Park's huts to see how they have fared through the winter when they play such an important shelter role," is also on the top of Matthew's list for any spring excursion into the Snowies.
In the colder months, regular contributor to this column, Peter Meusburger, aka "Mr Freeze", spends every spare minute cross country skiing in Kosciuszko National Park, so the snow melt heralds the start of a long wait until next winter.
Despite having to swap the skis for walking boots, Peter still enjoys the high country at this time of year, especially the splash of colour that follows the snow melt. "Sure, I miss winter dearly, but I really look forward to the seeing the Bitter Pea, Billy Buttons and Hoary Sunrays, all in flower", he says.
Only seven months to go until the next snow season Peter, but hey, who's counting?
Pilfering signs - a Canberra pastime
This column's recent expose on the pilfering of street signs named after cars (Who is pilfering our street signs, October 12) appears to be only the tip of the iceberg on Canberrans nicking street signs.
Craig Collins reports another street sign that gets stolen with regular monotony in our suburbs is Steve Irwin Avenue in Coombs.
"Every few months the sign on the corner of Cotter Road gets nicked," reveals Craig, adding, "it's undoubtedly an indication of how loved and popular the fellow was".
"It's also an important street for those trying to navigate their way into Wright," reports Craig who says he regularly reports it missing.
However, according to Craig, "it takes a couple of months for the relevant government department to get onto it."
Craig's suggestion "to mount the sign higher to make it more of a challenge for the perpetrators," also appears to have fallen on deaf ears with the Coombs sign being replaced at the same height.
One suburb where the signs have been creeping up higher and higher is Flynn, where, according to Barbara Mechem of adjoining Melba, one of Canberra's most-sought after streets signs, "Love Street" in Flynn has recently reappeared.
"It gets higher each time but still ends up disappearing," says Barbara who had to crane her neck to read the sign this week.
Other signs reported by readers to regularly go missing include Bogan Place in Kaleen and Batman Street in Civic.
Pat O'Connor reports, "the Friendship Street sign in Red Hill often disappears, and the Stralia Place sign in Melba is current bent as a result of someone's latest attempt to remove it."
Meanwhile, Ken Kerrison, of Pialligo, who has a coast house at Fifth Avenue in Berrara (just south of Jervis Bay), reports "some school kids covered the horizontal bits on the F with white tape, so the street sign now reads: Filth Avenue."
Sadly, the handiwork of the Berrara kids pales into insignificance when compared with some other adjustments of names of Canberra streets, which I'll spare you as we are a family newspaper after all.
WHERE IN CANBERRA?
Cryptic Clue: "Someone" and Hardy
Degree of difficulty: Hard
Last week: Congratulations to Rachel De Boni of Harrison who was the first reader to correctly identify last week's photo (below), sent in by Rose Higgins of Kambah, as the staircase at the Yerrabi Pond District Park in Gungahlin. Rachel, who just beat, Hilary Kinraid, of Nicholls, and Dora Chapman, of Gungahlin, to the prize reports, "my children love going there to see the ducks".
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday, November 9, 2019 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.
On a recent group bushwalk in the Budawangs, Monica Binder from Lyneham was navigating through a grassy brackened section of the Clyde River and looking at her map when she got a fright.
"This snake popped up like an angry fat jack-in-the box, coiled and making a striking motion towards me," she recalls, adding "fight or flight kicked in and I stepped backwards to escape".
In her attempt to get away Monica fell on her back. "Fortunately several of guys behind me pulled me away as the snake continued to make aggressive moves."
Monica escaped unharmed and fellow walker, Sharyn Wragg who took a photo of the snake using the "rambler app" identified it as an eastern brown. "The snake used its considerable length to lunge at Monica at knee/thigh height (she fell at this point) before coiling in an upright way," reports Sharyn, adding "its head was about 70cm off the ground at this time, remarkable."
It turns out that George Henry Monahan no longer holds the record (for the longest term as Clarke of the Senate (Canberra's first long lunch, October 26).
Maureen Weeks, the Deputy Clerk of the Senate, reports Monahan's record "was eclipsed by Harry Evans, who served as clerk from 1988 to 2009, clocking up 21 years in the process".
Thanks to the many other readers including Brett Odgers who also spotted this error.
Back to Senate school for this Akubra-clad columnist. Heck, I can hardly wait.