Tuesday, August 5, 2008


In the one shop in Cabramurra they told us that, despite being Australia’s highest town and always sure of a good snowfall in winter, business was usually far better during the summer, when the Khancoban Road was open.

As we were leaving the town, our daughter noticed that the one, small petrol station looked as if had been built out of giant Lego pieces. This comment made us all look at the houses a second time: at the steep, Lego-like roofs and the Lego-like, thick walled courtyards – all of which, we had read in a leaflet somewhere, had been built for employees of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.

We realised, then, how far this architecture was from anything we were used to in Australia and, while we had all grown up making towns out of Lego, none of us actually had ever expected the world to resemble the pictures on the box. We could now see that Lego assumed a world where, it not only snowed, but, unlike the rest of snowed-covered towns in Australia – which have largely been built for the inhabitants of resorts – everything had to be built for people who faced the drear ordinariness of work in the snow.

One of us even went so far as to say that Lego had nothing whatsoever to do with Australia and, the fact that this tiny town received more of its visitors in summer was probably less to do with the town – whose aesthetic was evidently incomprehensible to us – and all to do with the practicalities of being able to use the Khancoban Road to get from one end of the Snowy Mountains to the other without having to go the long way around.

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