The late Australian author Elyne Mitchell (1913-2002) is best remembered for her Silver Brumby series of novels for children. But Elyne also wrote a substantial number of non-fiction works about the Snowy Mountains. The theme of Australians' relationship with the environment runs strongly through her work.
Matthew Higgins visited Elyne's son John on the family property Towong Hill in the Upper Murray in April 2010. The visit stemmed from Matthew's book Rugged Beyond Imagination, an environmental and social history of the northern part of the Australian Alps.
Elyne's work focussed on the Snowy Mountains, especially the Main Range, and the Cascades area which she popularised in the Silver Brumby series. In books like Australia's Alps, Speak to the Earth and Towong Hill, Elyne evoked a powerful sense of place. Her deep love of the mountains, the Upper Murray, and nature is a central theme in much of her work. Elyne skied the mountains whenever she could. Horses were an important element in her station life as well as her fiction. Elyne's adventurous spirit is reflected in the 1948 trip she did with husband Tom and two companions when they drove a jeep across the Snowies - the first vehicle crossing of the mountains.
Matthew raised with John the possibility of the Museum acquiring objects relating to Elyne's writing and her mountain life, so that her contribution to Australia's cultural history could be better appreciated by museum audiences.
All photography by Matthew Higgins.
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