Early on in Kindred: A Cradle Mountain love story, the journalist and walker Kate Legge dwells on an ‘extraordinary coincidence’ that took place over Christmas in 1903. While the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria were on excursion to Mount Buffalo, the itinerant prophet of the National Park movement, the Scottish-American John Muir, was also in the mountains of Victoria. On Christmas Day, Muir plunged into the valleys around the Black Spur to verify optimistic claims of eucalypts ‘as high as the Great Pyramid’. He was soon disappointed by how these mountain giants compared in height and age to the redwoods of the Sierras, but he was charmed by the seclusion and intimacy of Victoria’s forests.
Just a few hundred kilometres away, Gustav Weindorfer and his future wife Kate Cowle were among those sampling the ‘rich pickings’ of the Buffalo Plateau. Among the granite boulders, the party of naturalists collected orchids and asters, beetles and birds’ nests. Other adventurers picked their way through gorges to look upon swirling mists and sublime vistas.