The first time I laid eyes on Paleface it most certainly was a sight to behold! I had heard of the legendary stallion with his small mob that roamed the high plain off Four Mile track, that at times hung around Three Mile Dam, or to be seen on the Kiandra Plain, the plain of his birth reconnecting with the famous Kiandra Grays. Other times he is found down the back of Kiandra Courthouse grazing on the lush green grass that has been introduced around the old village site.
Paleface - King of the Mountain
That first time I laid eyes on him and the first photo taken was a number of years ago now, however it still is something that I treasure dearly. I had heard the stories from many that had worked in the area over the last 10 years, hikers that I had ran into, the campers that stay at Three Mile, in the hope that the Silver Grey Stallion wanders on through and of course from all the seasonal and year round staff at Selwyn, they always had one eye looking for the white stallion, hoping once again to be graced with his company.
One of the first images of Paleface and his mob!
So how did Paleface get his name? It has been said that he wondered into the Selwyn area many years ago, a dark gray stallion with a white face and a couple of mares. It was said that he just wandered in like he owned the place, almost like he approved of the snowfields and the surrounds. He was a stallion that was not afraid to make himself at home. he knew what he was looking for and from all accounts he most certainly found it, unlimited territory free from any other brumby, from territorial stallions, opportunistic colts and of course many miles of open high plains to graze.
Paleface and one of his Mares Winter 2012 - Image gifted by K Mault
As the years went by Paleface was changing from a dark dapple grey into a snow white Stallion, causing harm to no one, if only bringing joy and delight to campers as they sometimes wander through. A vast array of blogs from all types of walks of life are out there are all noting that the encounter with Paleface and his mob a very special experience.
Paleface and mob wondering through the Three Mile Dam campsite, with young Bogong to the right of him(who is now completely white) - May 2016
Paleface started with three mares and now only two, losing Mrs Yan 18 months ago(read Blog post Vale Mrs Yan). He has graced us with one or two foals a year, allowed us to enjoy the new beginnings as if it was our own and has amazed us with his instinct for handling the tougher winter up in the higher country, higher then any other brumby mob dares to roam and due to the vast territory covered Paleface and mob have never known what light body condition is or even a dull coat.
Paleface and his small mob today, including filly foal named Grace resting in the warmth of the morning Sun.
In all his glory and in his prime, I have a sad and heavy heart on hearing the news that National Parks of NSW has decided that they must target this particular mob for trapping. What does this mean for Paleface?? Well it most certainly means that he will no longer be free, it means that he could be rehomed through a rehome facility, or he may not. It most definitely means that he will be separated from his mares, mares he has protected, lead, nurtured 24/7 for over last 7+ years (that we know of). It means they may possibly be deemed to be shot on site (under the proposed management plan), nobody knows and nobody can say but the only thing certain is that It absolutely means that he will no longer be free.
The gossip that has come to light is stating that National Parks are targeting Paleface and his mob due to the high profile the photographers have placed on this mob. Due to them being in the spotlight it has increased people coming to camp, it has increased day trippers hoping to catch a glimpse of the iconic white stallion and in general it has increased the public awareness for our beloved Australian Brumby.
Paleface making sure colts understood their place!
May I just ask the question? With following, sharing, observing and documenting Paleface, along with his mob, has it not only provided us all with incredible insight to the daily life of our beloved and iconic Brumby? Paleface has shared with us, how they truly survive, how strong their bonds between each other really are and dare I say it but how little damage they really do! Paleface roams in a vicinity that spans 20+ km in length and 5-10 km wide. That is equal to over 35,000 acres of land, by anyones stretch of the imagination that is ample room for a mob of seven to roam.
If photographers are bringing all this to light, how is that a bad thing? It is simply bringing the Brumby to the Australian People. Paleface has really offered us a special gift, an insight along with unprecedented joy whilst we all share the highs and lows of his life, a life of a modern day Silver brumby!!
One of Paleface's beloved mares and baby Grace born late August 2017.
I love the mountains, I love the park and completely dedicate my spare time in studying, following and just simply being with these magnificent creatures. Not just Paleface but a number of mobs with who are just as accepting, however reside in more remote areas. it just astounds me, that the powers to be, look at them with such disdain, after all, to many, they are just a feral animal.
When are we going to admit that now, with the history available and as Australians, that they need to be recognised as part of our heritage? The Man from Snowy river was set in 1888, Miles Franklin's Uncles were noted to make a glorious living of breaking and training the surefooted wild horses back in the 1860's, to this day it is believed the iconic Kiandra grays can be traced to the purebred horses that were bred on the Franklins property near Talbingo in the early 1900's and of course lets not forget the 27 books published including the famous and world recognised 13 book Series of the Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell starting in 1942.
Isnt it time to get innovative, embrace and invest in how we can use this for Australia, its heritage and the tourism that it is attracting? Invest in a management plan that works with the Brumby and what they have to offer, instead of fighting for eradication? Isnt it time to actually listen to Australia and embrace this iconic part of our history? It is possible and can be done, you just have to be ready for change, embrace and adapt to what is now in front of us! To even think luring a wild horse into a trap site with molasses, salt and anything else they seem to enjoy, than coerce them into a false sense of security, when in fact, all that may be on offer is a single bullet! That this is a solution? That it is humane? I feel this just beggars belief and is way beyond heart breaking!!
Disturbing as it is, It is worth noting how very little thought has been placed on location of bait sites, both are on a very popular walking track, one that families, skiers, mountain bikers and campers alike, utilise daily. There is no discretion taken, no thought in the safety of hikers walking straight through a trap site numerous times a day, keeping in mind there is possibly wild horses bickering over a tasty lure and there was absolutely no thought to the environment itself around the baited area, trees have been chopped down, car tracks have been made and grasses have been destroyed.
The high country is tough, it cant be tamed, it constantly amazes me on how it adapts and it is naive to think it is yet to adapt to the brumby grazing over the high plains, just like it has during the last 150 years. The mountains do talk to you and like Elyne has stated, if you listen to the wind, you will hear the story, the tales it has to tell and most importantly it will share with you that the mountains would just never been the same without the "King of the Mountain" roaming its plains.
Dedicated to Paleface - King of the Mountain the Modern Day Silver Brumby!
Paleface the king of the Mountains and epotime of the Snowy Mountain brumby!