Bush poet Banjo Paterson has a lot of explaining to do.
When creating the myth of The Man from Snowy River he eulogised the wild bush horses to such a degree that conservationists say they are now having to do battle to save the native animals, wildlife and creeks from the brumbies.
Blackheath’s Marian Moore and her partner David Bush say the “feral horses” are almost an adopted heritage animal.
With Lawson’s Karen Taylor and Dargan’s Bob Salijevic and Karen Cody, all five Blue Mountains conservationists and walkers, are set to do their bit in a 35-day protest walk from Sydney to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko to try and repeal the Kosciuszkio Wild Horse Heritage Act of June this year.
The contentious Act “sets a disturbing precedent by giving an introduced species greater protection than native animals in Kosciuszko National Park,” the walkers say.
“There’s such a small proportion of these Alpine areas, whereas there’s a lot of Australia where horses can be,” Ms Taylor said.
Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park only takes in about .1 per cent of the total land mass of this country, Mr Salijevic said.
“It will disappear,” he said of the precious Alpine area.
Mr Salijevic said long-term ecological monitoring had proven grazing by hard-hooved animals was causing erosion and damaging the catchment in the area.
“People pushing for the horses to remain tend to have horse riding companies,” he said.
Some claim many brumbies are descended from horses linked to the early Walers that were used at the battle of Beersheba in World War One and are part of the cultural fabric and folklore of the high country.
None of the five Mountains walkers are doing the entire protest trek from Sydney, some are leading longer walks from Victoria that join up at the summit, others are helping with support vehicles. They all hope other Mountains walkers might have the time to walk some of the distance.
“Retirees with campervans, here is your chance to do a road trip for a good cause,” says the Canberra-based walk convenor Linda Groom.
Ms Groom said the aims of the walk are to support a range of methods to control feral horses in NSW national parks, including ground-based lethal culling, under ranger supervision and according to RSPCA guidelines; implement the NPWS Draft Wild Horse Management Plan of 2016 and protect the habitat of the native broad-toothed mouse, corroboree frog and other native species affected by trampling and grazing.
Climate change meant the horses were now gathering above 1700 metres, Mr Salijevic said.
Ms Taylor said people can be “proud of our bush traditions, but things are different now”. The walkers estimate there are 6000 horses in the park and believe a cull down to 600 was necessary.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said if brumbies are found in highly-sensitive alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, resources will be allocated towards relocation first, followed by re-homing, should population numbers grow too high.
The locally made documentary The Man from Cox’s River showed it was challenging to capture and re-home wild horses from within the Warragamba catchment. Victoria continues with aerial culling as the most humane and cost effective way.
The walk starts in early November and finishes in mid December. To find out more go to www.savekosci.org.