Kosciuszko National Park

Just a few days after our trip to the Commonwealth Games, we decided it was time for another weekend away, so we booked an even more spontaneous trip to one of the remaining places on our ever-smaller to-do-list, Kosciuszko National Park.

Kosciuszko National Park, which I’m still unsure how to pronounce correctly despite several lessons from Aussie colleagues, forms part of the larger Snowy Mountains region and is home to Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciouszko.

Now I, like many people, was under the impression that Australia was a relatively flat country, however Mount Kosciouszko actually rises 2,228m from sea level, which is almost double the height of Ben Nevis.

The Park is located roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, making it a long drive just for the weekend. We therefore decided to split the journey in two, staying in Canberra on the Friday night, before continuing on our way early the next morning.

The second leg of the journey was through thick fog, and across one of the most remote landscapes we have seen in Australia. Given this, and the considerable amount of roadkill, we were very thankful not to meet any kangaroos along the way.

We finally arrived  into the small town of Thredbo, which although quiet during our visit, transforms into one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts between July and September each year.

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With only a limited amount of time in the park, we decided against climbing all the way from Thredbo to the summit of Mount Kosciouszko, and instead purchased a day pass for the chairlift.

During the warmer months, the ski slopes are used for mountain biking, and as we climbed high above the surrounding valley,  there was plenty of bikes speeding below us in the opposite direction.

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Choosing the chairlift option took us 426m higher into the mountains, and after disembarking we began the 13km round trip to the summit. The walk took us along a winding boardwalk, which gently climbed through the barren landscape. Despite it being April, there was still some small patches of snow around, which was not something we were expecting to see when moving to Australia.

We were fortunate to pick such a great day for the walk, and despite being so high-up it soon became clear we didn’t need all the layers we were wearing, with our biggest concern instead being sunburn!

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After several hours of walking along the winding track we finally approached the summit, and joined small crowd of people resting and taking photos at the top. The rocky, moonlike landscape stretching far into the distance was unlike any other place we had seen in Australia.

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We found a quiet spot to sit amongst the rocks, and take in more of the stunning views and fresh alpine air, before getting stuck into the sandwiches we had packed for lunch. After a much needed break we began our descent, and what would hopefully be a far less challenging second half of the walk.

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As we made our way back towards the chairlift terminal, we decided on a short detour to Seaman’s Hut, which was built following the death of two skiers who became trapped on the mountain in 1928. The hut was opened the following year in the hope of preventing similar tragedies and is still now stocked with food and firewood to be used for emergency overnight shelter.

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After completing the long walk and returning back down to Thredbo, we made our way straight to a pub for a well deserved drink, before driving to our B&B for the night in the nearby town of Jindabyne.

The town is around half an hour drive from Thredbo, and overlooks a vast lake of the same name, which is popular location for fishing and sailings. We settled into our room  just in time to watch a stunning sunset behind the mountains overlooking the lake. Our day ended with some excellent Mexican food from one of the town’s restaurants before we made our way back to the B&B, and settled in-front of the fire.

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We began our journey home early on Sunday morning, again stopping in Canberra to break up the long drive. The capital was eerily quiet in comparison to Sydney, with it feeling like we had the place to ourselves. We decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery, which is home to over 400 artworks of famous Australians both past and present, and one of the cities many free museums. This was followed with a quick lunch, before we got back on the road for the last few hours of a very busy but enjoyable weekend.

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