Photo credit: Jason Edward


The ute pulls up behind me with its engine running. Should I stop or should I run? All around, snow thickly blankets the ­tussocky hills around Adaminaby in the Snowy Mountains. The headlights gouge twin portals through the fog and the gravel cracks under my feet like ice. Soon the vehicle gets going and the driver gives a friendly wave; I feel ashamed of my fleeting paranoia.

They are warm people, the locals I meet in the NSW high country, but emotions run hot when talk turns to the brumbies, the feral horses that roam the alps. A prominent parks ranger received death threats and his children were ­targeted when the NSW Government released its 2016 plan to reduce the number of brumbies in Kosciuszko National Park to 600 by culling over 20 years. He wasn’t the only one. Some farmers in favour of horse control will talk to me only if I agree not to use their name, such is the fear of retribution. One has had security cameras installed at his place; he was advised by police to keep his mouth shut and watch his back. With these stories ringing in my ears, I watch the ute drive off into the darkness.

Later, I sit with the locals at the Snow Goose Hotel, trying to understand this long, impassioned tussle over the fate of the brumbies. Knowledge of the land here doesn’t come from city scientists, it’s not taught in schools; it’s passed down through generations. Over the course of the evening I interview the entire pub and receive a unanimous response to the most provocative question in town: what should we do about the brumbies?

Read the full story in The Australian newspaper HERE