Greetings from week two of gardening leave. I can’t say I feel entitled enough to deserve this amazing (paid) break, but I sure am grateful for it. It feels oddly unsettling knowing I won’t be working for nine weeks (for five of those I’ll be camino-ing) particularly when it was unexpected. Alas, I digress! This week Moo and I decided to tackle the tallest mountain in Australia, Mt Kosciuszko. After all, it was our three year anniversary and so, why not eh?
With a mere two weeks left before the Charlottes Pass gate is closed for winter, we felt this was an opportune time to go, and hey, maybe we’d luckily get another repeat of the Cradle Mountain Trek and walk in snow again? (hint: that was sarcasm) Not wanting to wait and find out, I check the forecast and it appears we have clear skies. Moo can’t take any time off work as he’s just started a new job (rats!) so we’ll be attempting this feat over a weekend.
We set off Friday afternoon, in the peak of rush hour, we are immediately sandwiched between commuters and lorries. I cuss and curse, I would say every 30 seconds, Moo would retell it was more frequent. It takes us a good two hours to break free from the mecca of Sydney traffic and get on the open road. A pit stop in Goulburn and before we know it (five hours later) we’re in chilly Jindabyne.
Depending on what route you want to hike, you could also stay in Thredbo. I have my eyes set on the Main Range Track and due to sheer proximity, we perch in Jindy.
We rise early on Saturday and apply layer after layer. This fair weather walker is not used to such degrees and as such has brought enough clothing to cover a juvenile netball team for such conditions. Charlottes Pass is a hop, skip and 40kms from Jindabyne. So as Willie Nelson claimed it, we were ‘On the road again..’ Upon pulling up we sneer at a group of young British hikers and aim to leave as soon as physically possible to place ourselves as far as possible from them. Why are they so loud? Why do they never have any Australian friends? Why do they not integrate? I guess the same could be said about Aussies in England, but I’d like to think that’s not true. To our joy, the Main Track is a measly 22.5km loop, which means: no small children! Yippee!
From Charlottes Pass you have two options as to how you’ll reach Kosciuszko, the Summit Track (a return track) or the Main Range Track (a loop). Opting for the latter, we set off down hill and feel minuscule immediately (see feature image). The mountains surrounding us are all consuming and our urban shoes feel a provincial soil underfoot. We reach a stepping stone ‘bridge’, which dares me to test my waterproof shoes, but the frosty, biting wind make me second guess the idea. From there, it’s up, up up! For what feels like an hour or two. We pass Blue Lake, which, if I had my time again, I would absolutely forgo the extra rest and take the additional 2km return walk to see the lake up close.
You’ll witness three other peaks along the walk; Carruthers Peak (2,142m), Mt Townsend (2,210) and lastly Mt Stilwell (2051m) however let me state, it’s impossible to get lost along this trail. Once past Blue Lake, prepare to whip out the tissues, my guide book didn’t lie when it states the ‘wind that can make eyes water, noses run and teeth ache’ in that regard, it didn’t disappoint.
Further up you go before hitting a glorious plateau stepping parallel to Carruthers Peak. **Walker listen up, this was the most beautiful section of the entire walk, dare I say it, even better than the summit itself. So, take it in. Find a wind protected rock and perch yourself here for an extended pit stop or lunch break.
Approaching the summit, you can hear the crowds congregate, human interaction lingers on the wind and I immediately think: take me back to Muellers Pass! The spiral-like track up to the top is accessible for all, I really wanted it to be more challenging to feel more rewarded up the top. Upon reaching the top, all 2,228m of it, dare I say it, it’s a little underwhelming!
Not wanting to be near other humans for too long, we kicked on to Rawsons Pass. Here is where the Thredbo walkers will meet the Summit Track. We continued on left all the way to Seamans Hut, an adorable shack with firewood, snacks, a billy and a safe haven should you find yourself stuck here in dire conditions. Crossing the Snowy River a final time we meander along the Summit Track all the way back to Charlottes Pass. It’s a rather long and exposed track, quite flat with a scenic backdrop. The old snow-gums here will have you stop and stare quizzically. The autumnal colours of shrub, low bushes and moss carpet guide your way.
Upon completing the trek, treat yourself to a crispy Kosciuszko Pale Ale and one heck of a feast at Bacco Italian Restaurant, Jindabyne. There’s no website, so you’ll just have to trust me!
Overall, a beautiful day walk, mind the tumult of other walkers. A long way to travel, yet a sight for sore eyes. A grand landscape with little protection. But above all, the closest I’ll get to heaven from the little land down under.
Until next week…