Feb 9 2008
Since 1861 the Franklin family have been farming the Snowy Mountains, being one of the oldest established farmers still on the mountain.
For 60 years, together, Lindsay and Ruth ran the farm, raised four children, nurtured their treasured Snowy high country by cattle grazing and land managemnt experience, that reflected their pride and a code our farmers live by prior to government myth-management.
Ruth, now 82, has retired to Tumut with her faithful sheepdog”Gypsy”, also retired.
Recently losing her husband and sole mate Lindsay, this has not dampened Ruth’s spirit, or her very alert mind.
Right on the ball, ever ready to give forth her vast experience and knowledge, Ruth was recently taken on tour of her beloved Snowy Mountain. She has sent the following letter to SOS-NEWS.
Read the unedited letter Ruth Franklin wrote to the people of Australia.
Dear Editor SOSNEWS,
During the weekend of the 8th and 9th of December this year I had the occasion to travel by four wheel drive through parts of northern KNP. I had believed that I was prepared to see wholesale neglect, but I was sickened by what I did see.
There were tragic scenes of blackberries overwhelming native vegetation, impenetrable scrub wherever these gross weeds were absent, and then in stark contrast, other areas still showing the devastation of the 2003 wildfire. The deeply eroded hillsides and the recovery of so many fewer species than had existed before the fire, and especially so many ground cover plants that have disappeared with the precious and ancient top soils, has brought a new but much less diverse and attractive landscape.
These scenes were nothing like the lovely bush that I remember. At so many Christmas times when friends and relatives came to these mountains we called home, we enjoyed picnics and camping trips into the bush using our horses to take us there. We relaxed by the ferny, crystal clear creeks and fed the little minos and tadpoles with breadcrumbs, gathered the prolific wildflowers, and organised horse events for the children on the alpine flats so that they could compete and enjoy their riding skills. Not any more. The beautiful clear creeks that abounded with life, as well as the little alpine flats, are now completely smothered by blackberries and scrub.
There is nowhere for animals to graze, or birds to feed. Only the deathly silence of neglect.
The irony hit me forcibly after being bombarded recently by the NPWS and the media with pictures of the “damage” done by brumbies.
As we drove last weekend, we saw little evidence of wildlife, and saw an occasional mound of manure where a wild stallion had marked his territory. Brumbies like him would do well to find a suitable place to drink in creeks entangled and dark, and little creatures like corroboree frogs would find no place where a moth or grasshopper would settle to become their meal.
The plains and bushland north of the Snowy Mountains Highway must be one of the few areas where our mountain brumbies can roam. Why don’t those setting the agenda for the caring of our national parks admit their policies are out of kilter, and concentrate the same determination to control the likes of the blackberries and wild dogs, both representative of the real vandals of our mountains?
Such symbolic and endangered species as the corroboree frog and other less famous small and large creatures might survive in a restored habitat, but in my mind’s eye I can see only repeated severe burnings of the unnatural scrub and weed dominated areas I saw. The reality of my recent excursion was that the only abundant wildlife I saw was on private land where families of animals like red wallabies who had survived the holocaust of 2003, have found their haven on pasture improved land. Never in the over 60 years of my knowing these places have I seen so many shy bush animals living away from their usual bush habitat. I am and remain astonished and despairing that our beautiful and treasured bush places are so devastated by management policies that seem to be saturated by the unscientific and emotional jargon peddled by extreme conservation groups like the Colong Foundation.
Why won’t those who are appointed to manage our national parks admit that their “brumby control” is merely diversionary propaganda, and that some determination for the control of weeds like blackberries and truly destructive animals like wild dogs, would be more to their credit and more in keeping with the unequivocal mandate represented by local public opinion.