Mt Jagungal (nearly)


It was a big drive in the afternoon to get down to Cooma for my first walk in the Snowy Mountains area. There had been a lot of discussion about what the weather was going to do. There was a lot of rain on the coast but not a lot forecast for the mountains. So I had sunshine, cloud, grey clouds and rain off and on the whole way down. It was getting late when I arrived in Cooma, so I just had time to buy some dinner, have a shower and try to get to bed at a reasonable time.

Friday morning I was up at 6am to meet the others in Adaminaby at the ‘Big Trout’. There was another hour or more to drive to the start of our walk. We drove higher and higher, 1250m, then 1400m, then 1500m and then remembered that we would be up about 17-1800m on our walk. We had a brief stop at Cabramurra to make a last phone call to Grandpa and wish him a happy wedding anniversary for tomorrow. Ooops, I forgot about that when I booked in for this walk. The wind was howling but not cold, time to put on the fleecy. It was different driving along these roads as usually we only come here on the motorbike, still, I had time to enjoy the scenery. It was good to see that some of the trees were eventually resprouting after those really bad bushfires so long ago and those that were dead and close to the road were being cut down.


Our walk started from the Round Mountain Fire Trail and it was a last repack and put on warm clothes. We started walking at 9am and the weather was still the same, bit windy, bit cloudy, bit rainy but not too cold.

It is good making new friends as you walk along chatting away. We talked about how good for you walking is and bushwalking in particular. Walking is good for the mind, the rhythm of walking is soothing and meditative, we have evolved walking so the body knows exactly what to do, leaving the mind free to wander. It is a shame in some ways that we have replaced walking with other forms of transport except of course when you want to drive 400km to go for a walk! Walking is very good for your body and depending on how and where you walk, it can have tremendous benefits for your health and strength. The foot striking the ground builds bone strength, while walking uphill and downhill, increasing and decreasing your heart rate is a very basic form of interval training. Trying to keep up with a very fit 72 year old while talking can be a good indication of how fit you really are. But for me, bushwalking is good for the soul. I will be just walking along and then have a big smile on my face just looking around at the world, experiencing the weather, the trees, rocks, flowers, everything.

The wind and rain continued off and on but mostly it was great bushwalking weather, not too hot, not too cold but just right, in short, a Goldilocks day.

I could tell that the training I have been doing is starting to pay off, I could keep up the same pace uphill by using my glutes, as long as the hill was not too long or steep. The track was easy to walk on, an old fire trail that still must be used as some of the creek crossings had new culverts. The water flowing in the creeks was very clean and clear. Would be very nice in summer.


We passed Round Mountain which from some angles was flat on top, then we got glimpses of Mt Jagungal when the cloud cleared from the top. It is supposedly a ‘bushwalkers mountain’ as it stands alone and you can actually walk up the sides, rather than the other high peaks in the Snowy’s where they are only marginally higher than all the other hills around. There were still lots of flowers out, even though we are heading into autumn, paper daisies mainly, so it would be great to come in spring to see them all. We were heading to Dershko’s Hut and a sheltered camp site with a view of Mt Jagungal.  Dershko’s Hut is nestled in a sheltered valley with a small creek flowing by that we got our water from. It also had a loo with the best view of the sunset later. The walk in was about 17km and we were there by 1.30pm.


We put up our tents first, in case it started to rain heavier, then collect wood for the fire, then water and a look inside the hut. We decided to stay for a game of cards to pass the afternoon out of the rain.


When it started to cool off, we decided it was time to light the fire and get dinner organised. All I had to do was add hot water to my dehydrated spaghetti bolognaise, so that was easy. I was starting to feel a bit stiff, so went for a wander around and enjoy the sunset, it was beautiful. The sky seemed to be clearing in the west but the wind was coming from the east and the forecast didn’t look good for the rest of the weekend. Through the night the wind sounded like a gale but I was snug in amongst the bushes in my little tent.


It was still drizzling in the morning and the forecast was not looking promising with heavy rain and wind. Not a good day to walk to the top of Mt Jagungal. We discussed it over breakfast and decided that the best thing to do would be to cut the weekend short and walk back. A bit disappointing but I will be coming back later in the year, I might be able to go up Mt Jagungal then. So I packed up my gear without getting too wet and returned back along the track. We met a school group heading to camp at the same spot, we were lucky to miss that tonight.


We did a detour down to Round Mountain Hut, an original old hut and found a family staying there for the weekend out of the rain. They had ridden in on their mountain bikes. I loved the huge fireplace, one you can get right into and cook up a feast in, if ever we build a shack, that is what I will have in it. There were just some iron frame bunks and a table but it was very cosy.

RoundMountainHut4RoundMountainHut Inside4

We made really good time to get back to the cars with enough time to get home before dark. I would have preferred to go camp and walk somewhere else so the weekend wasn’t wasted but it was our 39th wedding anniversary after all and Grandpa was on his own, so off I headed home. Plus it was the youngest grandson Henry’s 4th birthday tomorrow and I shouldn’t miss that either. Oh, what a busy life!


One day in the life of this Grandma

Some days are challenging, busy, stressful and fun all together. I had one of those days this week. As parents you worry about your kids, then as grandparents you worry about their kids. When you have special grandkids it makes it even more special, stressful and rewarding.

I don’t know if it is us, or the world we live in but three out of five of our grandkids have chromosome deletions or translocation, making them even more unique than normal. You learn so much about doctors, hospitals, big words and bureaucracy and how to help them achieve the small things that we all take for granted. You know like walking and talking.

So this Tuesday, Olive had surgery, pharyngaplasty, on the palate to help her speech. After having surgery on her first day of life this is just another step. I was at work on Tuesday and in the early afternoon and our youngest, Lisa, rings me “Mum, can you come home early and mind the kids while we get in the hay?” It is at least one and half hours to get home on the train, so, no I won’t be home early, but anyway. When I arrived at their place the hay getting in was nearly complete and I tried to get the kids to eat their dinner while everyone else got the hay into one of the last standing sheds (that is a whole other story that I might get around to telling sometime). The three grandkids were all keen to join the action, so we took the toy wheelbarrows up to check out the action. The youngest, Reuben is OBSESSED with tractors and now has some new words in his vocabulary, ‘Hay baler’ and ‘John Deere tractor’. Tyler thought he was strong enough to help in pushing the last few bales off the trailer. The best part about farm work is getting everyone involved, even some of the new neighbours joined in.

Later that night Olive was transferred to Intensive Care because her heart rate dropped alarmingly. All turned out good and we only heard the brief updates but still you know that it is not just the child who is going through this. Ivy, our middle one, is a tower of strength.

You try to be there for your kids when they need you and sometimes that is not what you want to do. But when you understand what they have been through and what they have to do to help their kids it is very sobering to think how easy I had it. The number of times I took my kids to the doctor could be counted on one hand. My kids never had an xray, blood test, scan or even a filling at the dentist when they were kids!

Being a grandparent is completely different. You learn so much more about yourself and your kids. The amazing part is seeing how your kids cope with life’s challenges. Our eldest, Mark is a dairyfarmer. Now who in their right mind would choose to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year. Someone very special, who loves cows and knows the goals he wants to achieve. Ivy has two beautiful children, Olive and Henry. Olive was born with a TOF ( Trachea-oesophageal fistula) requiring surgery on her first day and lots and lots of special care. Henry on the other hand, has benefited from all of the Speech therapy Ivy and Olive have attended and speaks amazingly well. Lisa, our youngest, has three children, Tyler, Matilda and Reuben. Tyler was born with a chromosome translocation, too hard to describe here. Suffice to say that he has a severe developmental delay and at eight years of age can walk, feed himself, is being toilet trained, loves his ducks, has a beautiful character and goes to a special school. Matilda has always ‘got’ Tyler and looks after and seems to understand him completely. Reuben is his own special person and does only what he wants. His speech is somewhat limited but he is the most loveable little person and will definitely find his way in the world.

I only hope that we can do enough to help them all achieve what is important- to them.