Gippsland: Victoria’s wilderness frontier
A poem by Phillip Rush:
Tucked away and almost hidden in our vast and pleasant land
Is a jewel of wondrous beauty, and of charm.
East Gippsland is this treasure, a region rich and grand
In history, forests, mountains, towns and farms.
From the goldfield’s Chinese diggings in the town of Omeo,
To the mountain huts across the Dargo plains.
From majestic trestle bridges where trains no longer go,
History oozes out of proud East Gippsland veins.
The legends of the Snowy are strikingly alive
On its upper reaches by McKillop’s Bridge.
The tales are whispered clearly where the cypress-pines survive
In quiet meditation on the ridge.
This history has an aura which is palpable and real;
No vagrant ghosts to haunt or make aghast!
But a heartbeat steeped in history; a heartbeat one can feel,
Bringing lifeblood to the present from the past.
You can see it in the fishermen who, busy at their trade,
Ply their vessels in the lakes and rolling seas.
You can sense it in the loggers, many who have made
Their homes among the stunning native trees.
You detect it in the graziers who long have roamed the hills,
Moving cattle as the seasons come and go.
Over several generations they have honed their riding skills,
Mountain cattlemen that all Australians know.
There’s a multitude of farmers in East Gippsland’s south and west,
Who enjoy the ancient craft of tilling soil.
And the floodplains of the Snowy and the Mitchell are the best
For giving farmers value for their toil.
The extensive southern sand belt is most productive, too,
Where sheep and lambs are raised on pastures wide.
In contrast to the forests, ever ancient, ever new;
Where unique, enchanting animals abide.
The slow and lumbering wombat, the rare exquisite quoll,
A variety of possums to delight
Those folk who choose to wander, to enjoy and to extol
These captivating creatures, day or night.
And from Mallacoota’s heathlands to the highlands capped in snow,
From the thickly timbered valleys to the lakes;
You’ll see abundant birdlife, no matter where you go
From audacious parrots to reclusive crakes.
Calls of whistler, thrush and magpie, of robin, hawk and wren,
Are captured in the lyrebird’s grand display,
Echoing through the forest and in many a mountain glen:
Stunning mimicry to highlight any day!
And East Gippsland has a poetry, a melody and song,
In the music that the early settlers sang;
Coopracambra, Errinundra, and Croajingalong;
Calulu, Bete Bolong, Wulgumerang.
East Gippsland; precious treasure, a delight to those who live
By forest, mountain, river, shore or plain.
For this region is a wonder, and has very much to give
Throughout her grand and glorious domain!
Find more pictures and read all about the wonder that is East Gippsland in the Sept/Oct 2011 edition of Australian Geographic.