|Lake Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains.|
Canberra was a good stop, and there was more that I could've done there to be honest. Although I wouldn't want to live there, it is a pleasant city. Moving on from my half-day stop in the Capital, I still had another 2 hours driving to my next destination - the ski town of Jindabyne.
|The rolling hills and mountains of The Snowy Mountains.|
|Ya Flamin' Galah!|
|The Australian Alps.|
|Entrance to the National Park.|
Jindabyne is a ski town, and has many resorts nearby - Perisher and Thredbo to name a few. Thredbo is probably the biggest and businest towns, with the longest ski runs in Australia, and boasts just over 4000 beds for winter accommodation. Being summer, and not yet school holidays, this place was dead. I sorted out breakfast, visited the National Parks and Wildlife information centre, checked out a map and weather conditions, then back in the car to get to the first hike of the holiday. The weather was fine, not a cloud in sight, but the wind was up around 70kph. Today's route would be a 20km return trip, with the summit of the highest mountain in Australia about two thirds of the way in. It wasn't going to be hard, as my starting point was at 1835m and I only had to get to 2280. There would be a path all the way, so it was more the distance and the wind I was worried about.
|Mt Kosciuszko on the left.|
It started off well - going straight down from Charlotte Pass - but of course you must come up again, so the hard slog was on within 30 minutes. There were only 3 other guys along this part of the track, and as the day went on, I only came across just over a dozen people on the whole 20km loop. On the way to the top, there is the Blue Lake and 3 other lakes, which were nearly at the top, so a good stopping point for a rest and a nice view. No one else was there, so it was just me - it gave me a nice break, and a wonderful view. The lake was formed by glaciers cutting through the granite rock, and the water comes mainly from snowmelt, so the water is cold and blue, and is frozen four months of the year. Although I had forgotten my lunch, it was a welcome stop, spent only with about a thousand of my new 6 legged winged friends.
Reaching the top of Australia's highest peak wasn't that difficult in reality, but the winds played a part in wearing me out. The weather report predicted 50 - 70kph winds, but I'm sure it was more like 100kph! At certain parts of the hike, a had to walk at a 45 degree angle to stop from falling off the path and right over the edge. Some parts were so windy that I could barely move forward into the wind. Although there weren't many people up there, I was able to get a guy to take my picture up here as evidence - I have hiked mountains myself before (Ben Nevis in Scotland being one), and you need a picture at the summit. When I climbed Ben Nevis the first time in 2005, my camera was stolen 1 week later, and I lost the photo - forcing me to climb the bastard again in 2010 (and a wee drop of whiskey to celebrate at the top went down a treat!). A selfie will just not do either! Once at the top, it was too windy to wit around and enjoy the view, so I headed back down to the path and headed home.
Slighly sore and sunburnt, the second day I headed out on a smaller, but easier walk, a round trip of about 12kms. Starting from the (ghost) town of Thredbo this time, I walked all along the river, past a golf course, before heading up Dead Horse Gap. There were 2 ways of doing this hike - catch the chairlift up and walk all the way downhill. I chose the other way of course - hike all uphill and get the lift down... much more fun! Offering great views of the surrounding mountains, the walk up wasn't too difficult, and with nobody else on the track, it was quiet and really quite pleasant. While walking up the hill, I came across a real dead horse just off the track - which one came first, the horse or the name? Reaching the top, you get a wonderful view of Thredbo and the Snowy Mountains. Taking the ski lift down was a godsend - it's like when you have walked all day, and finally reach your car or hotel - it's a hallelujah moment!
Although there is so much walking to be done in the area, hiking and camping by yourself isn't a great idea. 1 slip or fall, and you could be injured or killed miles and miles from any help. I spent a little time walking around Jindabyne and the towns around the area. I stayed in Jindabyne backpackers, and it wasn't your normal hostel experience - I basically had the whole place to myself! But all good things must come to an end, and Christmas Day was looming, so home-bound it was. 'The Snowies' will be there waiting for me to come back and spend a week or more hiking and camping it.
|The Blue Lake at 1890m.|
|The Snowy River.|
|Me at the top of Kosciuszko.|
|An actual dead horse on Dead Horse Gap trail.|
|Free ride down!|
|I'm watching you!|
|View from the top.|
|One of the locals saying hi.|