A road trip into the Snowy Mountains region. Driving south from Canberra we entered foggy valleys with yellow grassland. Leaving the city behind we were ready for a new landscape, something to jolt our senses into a renewed state.
And then it began. Road-kill to the left and right. Wombats, kangaroos, emus, wallabies. Not a kilometre without bloated corpses defrosting in the early morning wintery sun.
At first we counted the number of dead wombats we passed. Not native to our home region we had been excited at the prospect of seeing them in the wild. As the number increased we told each other they were sleeping by the side of the road but this feeble joke grew old pretty quickly.
We soon entered a region where even the vegetation was dying. Huge old Monaro eucalyptus trees standing like skeletons, their fate not changing from one field to the next.
Researching it later we had unknowingly passed through a 2000 square kilometre area regarded as a tree graveyard. For over two decades the eucalyptus trees have been dying leaving behind an eerie landscape.
We finally arrived at the Snowy Mountains. The mountainsides were characterised by lines of thin white tree trucks. They were the remnants of forest that had burnt to the ground in bushfires in 2003. Bleak, devastated, silent.
Walking through the countryside it was hard to feel uplifted. Signs of loss were everywhere. Many reports suggested the Snow Gums were not growing back.
We stayed in the area for 3 days. On our last night we watched the breaking news of a mass shooting in Orlando. We fell into silence.
Driving back north we again passed the corpses of the local wildlife. They hadn’t moved since days before, still sleeping in the midday sun.