Some trees have it hard. Perisher, NSW, Australia. September 2008

My wife and I went down to the “snowies” (short for the Snowy Mountains) last Thursday to meet up with some friends and we came back on Sunday. We enjoy spring skiing because the weather is usually much clearer and better behaved, plus the snow is a bit easier for poor skiers like us.

It usually comes as a surprise to people from the northern hemisphere that Australia has ski fields.  As matter of fact, the three contiguous national parks (Kosciusko National Park NSW, Namadgi National Park ACT and Alpine National Park Victoria) that make up the snowies cover an area of about 14200 square kilometres (about 5500 square miles). Although we have enough snow to ski on for about 4 months a year it’s not what most experienced skiers would call quality snow.  To tell the truth the snow here is mostly either, ice or sloppy crap, but it’s all we have so we make do.

Engogirl on her telemark skis heading out from Dead Horse Gap

Most of my friends and I avoid the resorts with ski lifts like the plague and we use heavy touring skis with telemark bindings to go out into the less infested parts of Kosciusko National Park.

Playing around on the the blue trail at Perisher

The only reason why we get any snow at all on the mainland of Australia is because of the altitude of the (laughably named) “Australian Alps” (should be called hills, even if it is the highest part of the country). Since much of the park is at about 2000m (about 6500ft) only the most hardy of plants can survive the harsh conditions of freezing cold winters with high winds and hot dry summers with bushfires. In the winter, snow covers the low heath and the only trees that one tends to see are battered and twisted Snow Gums.

It's hard being a tree at Perisher

 Even the incredibly tough Snow gums have a hard time coping with the conditions. Large areas of Kosciusko National Park were burnt in bush fires a couple of years ago leaving these stark remnants behind.

Sometimes even the Snow Gums can not handle the conditions

Someone traded a part of their life for this. South of Williamsdale in NSW, Australia

Every time I see an old wrecked car I wonder about the circumstances of the last time it was driven. I also find myself thinking about how the car was once shiny and new in a showroom. There is a whole involved process to buying a car. Getting the finance, getting it registered and insured etc.

This was once someones dream

Someone once looked at this old wreck when it was new and wanted to own it so badly that they went into debt. They traded the expendable income from a couple of years of their life for what is now a worthless rusting lump of junk. Consumerism is such a addictive drug. If we were told that we only had a few more years to live, would we spend that precious remaining time working to make money to buy some thing? Yet, when we are healthy and think we’ll live forever, we gladly trade our youth and freedom for things.

It’s ironic how there is this tacit promise made by the automobile manufactures, “buy a car and be free”. The truth is that cars tie you down to one place while you make the payments to pay it off and enough money to run it. Cars don’t free us, they enslave us.

I didn’t get my drivers licence until I was 35 and I only did so because it was required for a job I wanted. Now that I own a car, I’d be hypocritical not to admit that I enjoy the fact that I can drive out into the country easily and take photos of things.  

Sometimes I feel so conflicted.