A wild and desolate land; dreary, even savage, to the unaccustomed eye. Forest-clothed hills towering above the faint, narrow track leading eastward, along which a man had been leading a tired horse; he was now resting against a granite boulder. A dark, mist-enshrouded day, during which the continuous driving showers had soaked through an overcoat, now become so heavy that he carried it across his arm. A fairly heavy valise, above a pair of blankets, was strapped in front of his saddle.
He was prepared for bush travelling—although his term of “colonial experience,” judging from his ruddy cheek and general get-up, had been limited. A rift in the over-hanging cloud-wrack, through which the low sunrays broke with a sudden gleam, showed a darksome mountain range to the south, with summit and sides, snow-clad and dazzling white.
The wayfarer stood up and stared at the apparition: “a good omen,” thought he, «perhaps a true landmark. 2The fellows at the mail-change told me to steer in a general way for the highest snow peak, which they called 'the Bogong,' or some such name. Though this track seems better marked, these mountain roads, as they call them—goat paths would be the better name—for there is not a wheel mark to be seen—one needs the foot of a chamois and the eye of our friend up there.” Here he looked upward, where one of the great birds of prey, half hawk, half eagle, as the pioneers decided, floated with moveless wing above crag and hollow. Then rising with an effort, and taking the bridle rein, he began to lead the weary horse up the rocky ascent. “Poor old Gilpin!” he soliloquised, «you are more knocked up than I am—and yet you have the look of a clever cob—such as we should have fancied in England for a roadster, or a covert hack. But roads are roads there, while in this benighted land, people either don't know how to make them, or seem to do their cross-country work without them. I wonder if I shall fall in with bed and board to-night.