Picturing Mt Buffalo

People say the mountain is like a sleepy old buffalo. Some nights Alice dreams of that buffalo shaking off its sleep and rising to its feet… All her life… Alice has been waiting… to climb it, as it waits huge and silent, and now it is her turn.

from When the buffalo wakes by Penelope Johnson, illustrated by Jiri Tibor Novak

In the height of the Albury summer our family ascends to the granite boulders of Mt Buffalo, the ‘island in the sky’, seeking cool air, lake swimming and bush walks. Bringing in the year 2000 meant living at the Lodge, walking on Mt Buffalo, swimmng in Lake Catani and Ladies’ Bath Falls.

On the morning of January 1st 2000 I recall a distracted chap still wearing his evening dress from the night before who asked us for directions. He appeared to have been up all night looking for the turn off to Lake Catani camping grounds on the road between The Lodge and The Chalet!

If you can zoom in on this picture you’ll see a small metal buffalo shape atop the weather vane above the gable of The Chalet.

Setting off from The Chalet (which is currently closed to visitors) the interpretive signage on  The Gorge walk enables you to see this magnificent mountain high country through the eyes of Guide Alice. Her name was Alice Manfield and she was born in 1878 to a mountaineering family. To find out more about Alice Manfield click here.

when the buffalo wakes

In When the buffalo wakes Penelope Johnson tells the following story of Guide Alice in third person with haunting illustrations in water colour and black and white by Jiri Tibor Novak.

All her young life Alice had wanted to climb the brooding mountain at the back of her house. Today she begins the climb with her dad. ‘The mountain is a strange kind of beast’, he says, where the weather can turn without warning. Next morning Alice guides him to reach ‘the edge of the world’.

The picture book When the buffalo wakes, published in 2000 by Roland Harvey Books,  is now out of print.  So I was thrilled to locate it (complete with bar code) on the shelf at the Riverina TAFE Library. Recommended.


 Photo credits

Photo of The Chalet by Alan Key and the photo of When the buffalo wakes by Sally Denshire.


Key words

daughters and fathers, Guide Alice, high country, lyre birds, Penelope Johnson, Mt Buffalo, mountaineering, North East Victoria, Jiri Tibor Novak, picture book, The Chalet.







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