In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Author:Bill Bryson
Format: mobi, epub
Tags: Australia Description and travel, Australia & New Zealand, Australia, Customs & Traditions, Social Science, TRAVEL, Essays & Travelogues, General, Australia & Oceania, Australia & Oceania - General, History
ISBN: 9780385259415
Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Published: 2001-06-11T16:00:00+00:00

WHAT HE HAD FOR US THE NEXT DAY was a place called Alpine National Park, and in fact it was even better. Covering 2,500 square miles of eastern Victoria, it was lofty, grand, cool, and green. If ever there was a portion of Australia remote from all the clichéd images of red soil and baking sun, this was it. They even skied here in winter. Alpine is perhaps a somewhat ambitious term. You will find no craggy Matterhorns here. The Australian Alps have a gentler profile, more like the Appalachians of America or the Scottish Cairngorms. But they do attain entirely respectable heights—Kosciusko, the tallest, tops out at something over seven thousand feet.

Howe, through one of his contacts, had gotten hold of a friendly and helpful warden named Ron Riley, who had agreed to show us around his airy domain. A genial man with a dapper gray beard, Ron had the lean bearing and far-off gaze of someone whose world is the out-of-doors. We met in the little town of Mt. Beauty, where we decanted into one of the park’s four-wheel-drive vehicles and set off on the long, twisting drive up Mt. Bogong, Victoria’s highest peak at 6,500 feet (about the same height as Mt. Washington in New Hampshire). I asked him if Mt. Bogong was named for the famous bogong moths, which erupt in vast, fluttery multitudes every spring and for a day or two seem to be everywhere. Along with plump witchetty grubs and long, slimy mangrove worms, they are the delicacies of the Aboriginal diet most often noted by chroniclers—noted because of course they are so unappealing to the Western palate. The bogongs are roasted in hot ashes and eaten whole, or so I had read.

Ron acknowledged that this was where they came from.

“And the Aborigines really eat them?”

“Oh, yeah—well, traditionally anyway. A bogong moth is 85 percent fat, and they didn’t get a lot of fat in their diet, so it was quite a treat for them. They used to come from miles.”

“Have you ever eaten one?”

“Once,” he said.


“Once was enough.” He smiled.

“What did it taste like?”

He thought for a moment. “Like a moth.”

I grinned. “I read that it has a kind of buttery taste.”

He thought about that. “No. It has a moth taste.”

We climbed up a steep, winding road through dense groves of an amazingly tall and beautiful tree. Ron told me they were mountain ashes.

I made an appropriately appreciative face. “I didn’t know you had ashes here.”

“We don’t. They’re eucalypts.”

I looked again, surprised. Everything else about it—its long, straight body, its height, its lushness—was completely at odds with the skeletal gums associated with the lowlands. It really was true that the eucalypts have filled every ecological niche in Australia. There never was a more various tree.

“Tallest tree in the world after the California redwoods,” Ron added with a nod at the ashes, causing me to make another appreciative face.

“How tall do they grow?”

“Up to three hundred feet. They average about two hundred.” Three hundred feet is about the height of a twenty-five-story building.


Copyright Disclaimer:
This site does not store any files on its server. We only index and link to content provided by other sites. Please contact the content providers to delete copyright contents if any and email us, we'll remove relevant links or contents immediately.