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Into the lands of cloud and snow Into the lands of cloud and snow


lachlan hurrell

It’s the middle of summer and white peaks loom in the distance, a humbling reminder of the ever-changing weather that shapes the plants and animals that live their lives in the Australian alps. At breakfast I look around and I’m surrounded by scientists who have spent lives specialising in all kinds of wonderful, amazing creatures and plants. Their passion is to understand and map all the different places these creatures live and the way they live so we can learn and protect these creatures from threats. There’s a real life spiderman, frog woman, mothman, bug girl and the list goes on. I’m excited by the week ahead and ready to leave the comforts of basecamp for the calm and quiet of the snowgums.

I join a team of entomologists (scientists who study insects) from the Australian Museum and we leave base camp and rattle along the highway, pass the ski resort of Thedbo and half an hour later stop at a locked gate. Our mission for the day is to look for beetles, truebugs and snails. We head through the locked gate and bump along the track past alpine bogs, cross beautiful alpine streams and up into the cloud covered snowgums.

As I hop out of the car the cold hits me and we start looking for critters in tussox grasses, under logs and on the bark of trees. To my amazement, we find plenty of life in the freezing cold tussox grasses. Although slow moving, we find species of tough insects, strong insects that have been shaped by these lands of cloud and snow. After some time our fingers start to freeze and we hop in the car for the trip head back to basecamp. I peer out the window through the fog and snow and think about those tough creatures living out their lives in these hostile mountains on the top of Australia.