Kosciuszko National Park Favorite Tips by iandsmith
Kosciuszko National Park Favorites: 12 reviews and 39 photos
From any angle Blue Lake is a stunner
Favorite thing: Large bands of unmelted snow lit up under the fleeting rays of the sun and were contrasted by the harsh rock surrounding them; crashing waterfalls echoed across the wilderness, while straggling roots burst from beneath vibrant flowering plants, clutching rocks with their skeletal remains beside sphagnum moss and a myriad of tiny blooms, some less than a pinhead, sought interest from the hardy insects that sparsely populated the area.
It was, on recollection, one of the truly great places I have seen in Australia, up alongside Lake Judd, Karijini and Carnarvon Gorge. Its aura and mystique will live with me forever.
As we were leaving a couple came into view. First the lady, who was from Russia, then the obese Aussie male whose comment, “Is there a beer over the next hill?” really said it all. The words “mail order” immediately sprang to mind. He was to be the only other Australian we met all day. The other twenty or so we came across hailed from places like Germany, France, India and Asia.
During our long time at the lake we were blessed with 3-4 minutes total of relatively mist free time but as we retreated it seemed like no-one else would get so lucky on Christmas day because the fog, if possible, became even more dense as we made our way back to Charlottes Pass where
Fondest memory: Lorraine sprung a surprise by going solo across the first creek crossing while my back was turned taking photographs. Immensely proud of her achievement she nonetheless was only too happy to take my hand across the second and more risky ford before we commenced the steep climb back to the carpark, somewhere up there in the drifting clouds.
After several pauses en route we staggered gratefully into the motorhome and couldn’t wait to get the kettle on.
It had been a goal that had been nagging at me for two years and now that I had seen it, it was even more special having shared it with someone and, despite our aching joints and tired muscles, it had been a truly memorable experience.
One of the ice fields
Favorite thing: We reached the Snowy River crossing and our first problem – Lorraine froze at the thought of this rock hopping exercise across the icy waters and had to be cajoled across the double span but she bravely fought her fears and scrambled across. From here it was uphill pretty much for the next 4 kms and the lovely brick became a broad gravel path that was still so much easier than the day before.
We cruised, stopping frequently for photo opportunities until we came across another human being over an hour into the walk. It was around 10.20 a.m. and he’d started at 4.30 a.m. on the Summit Track, a more direct 8 km route to Kosciuszko that you can then make a circuit of by returning on the Main Range Track making the 21 kms I mentioned earlier.
We chatted briefly and he got all excited by the crows he’d just come past, and with some justification. A few hundred metres further on we came upon a murder of crows and it was so eerie as they squawked and flitted from granite boulder to granite boulder, merely black shapes in the soft light of the mist. Their echoing “ark, ark” cries and silhouetted movements in the fog made us think we were on the set of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, their noise the only sound in the enshrouded mountain. There must have been over 100 of them in this bleak landscape and I couldn’t help but wonder just what it was they fed upon, for carrion was certainly a rarity up here. Turns out they’re mainly up here for the Bogong moths, blown here from Queensland in their millions.
In ages past the aborigines, though their tribal groups didn’t intermingle in the valleys below, joined together on the high plains in summer to feast upon this food bonanza. These days the moths carry traces of arsenic upon them from the crop spraying hundreds of kilometres away and thus the flora and fauna up here have been poisoned by traces of the chemical and its insidious side effects.
Fondest memory: At one point we were surprised to learn on one of the interpretive signs that much of the vegetation these days was driven by replanting by man as a result of sheep having devastated the soil until 1944 that allowed unfettered erosion to scar the landscape. In 1957 a 25 year rehabilitation program by the Department of Soil Conservation was undertaken and the land is recovering today with continuing maintenance.
At over 6,000 ft we trudged on, ever expecting but not seeing the turnoff. Occasionally there were maps but, strangely, they never showed you where you actually were. Then we were passed by two French expats, she of the skinny figure and abrupt nature and he of the more sanguine approach. These days they lived in Brisbane but couldn’t deny their accents and they walked like they were on a mission.
Then we came to the first ice sheet whose black outlines were so stark they made such a contrast to all that surrounded them.
Just after that we reached the turnoff. Our route suddenly became a rough tiny rocky path down to the lookout but the enshrouding mist prevented any viewing of the waters until, like a temptress defrocking herself, the pervading cloud let in glimpses of what lay beyond and we were transfixed from that point on.
We walked further to a better vantage point and the scale of the place unfolded. Everywhere we glanced it was like a magician conjuring up a final illusion before the finale and it was stunning. The wafting clouds, driven over the mountains by the prevailing wind, reached Blue Lake and then, sucked down by the colder temperature, cascaded spectacularly into the vortex before recovering and tumbling onwards, ever upwards, ascending the slopes beside us, over the million coloured dots of wildflowers that flecked the landscape in their pretty hues.
Magic patterns in the snow gums
Favorite thing: If you only have time to do one walk in Kosciuszko NP, then this is the one I'd recommend. Here is the story of how Lorraine and I did it.
We’d had such a hard time of it the day before that, by mutual agreement, we figured the 21 km hike via Main Range and Summit Trails to Mount Kosciuszko wasn’t going to happen. However, since one of my few goals this trip had been to see Blue Lake and hopefully get some reflection shots we opted for the 10 km return to Blue Lake. Though it was listed as hard, we thought we’d give it a try since a good sleep had revived our bodies and spirits.
I’d like to say the day dawned, but it never did, obscured by a mountain mist that, as we climbed higher and higher in the motorhome, became more dense and so we stopped at Spencer’s Creek on the way to get some shots and think about our plans some more.
Fondest memory: At the end of the road at Charlottes Pass I guessed that, being mist, it would lift sooner or later and we should get going, something Lorraine concurred with though she’d really been the driving force about getting going all morning.
So it was we found ourselves on the Main Range Trail at Charlotte’s Pass on Christmas Day, leaving behind about a dozen other cars and stepping onto a wonderfully broad brick path. The only problem was that it was steep, very steep, and we knew we had to return up it.
Initially we passed by some of the most beautiful snow gums I’d ever seen, with pastel colours splashed randomly on muted backgrounds in improbable abstract shapes that many an artist would envy. Dewdrops hung from every stalk and branch and the odd blossom sparkled in the diffused light.
Bridge over creek below the hut
Favorite thing: Other trekkers came and went as we grafted our way along the narrow trail past snow gums until, at times, the trail itself was indiscernible with fresh summer shrub branches overgrowing its meandering ways yet somehow you knew where it went and moved on, stumbling occasionally over a tree root or two until we paused in a small patch of tussock to eat our lunch on Christmas Eve.
Though overcast, at least it wasn’t raining, though the portents were ominous at times when large threatening pewter clouds dimmed the light before cascading across the sky to where we knew not, having little idea of where the compass points were.
We reached Illawong Hut soon after, but it’s been taken over by a bushwalking club and they’ve put a lock on it so we had no solace of creature comforts but could get some shelter from the wind. Well, at least Lorraine did while I descended to the nearby stream to try out the suspension bridge. Wow, the sign before it said that only one person a time was allowed and, when I checked it out, I understood why. The sway was disconcerting to say the least and, though not rickety, it certainly didn’t encourage a feeling of security and those of unsure footing would surely be discouraged from crossing.
In fact, when I returned, I rock-hopped the creek and that almost seemed easier and safer than walking the bridge. The granite boulders I trod on seemed stark and unyielding but the water is patient and has time on its side. Bit by bit they will slowly be eroded and shattered until one day they will be mere grains upon a beach somewhere.
Fondest memory: In a way we felt like we were being eroded as well. Our strength was being sapped by the uneven surface and our enthusiasm waxed and waned with the excitement of another photo opportunity being balanced by the drudgery of our seemingly endless footfalls. The last climb before the bridge was with measured steps as we reached the summit and could see the carpark in the middle distance.
Relief was tempered by fatigue and when we finally reached the motorhome I was not in a well state and Lorraine was only marginally better. If this was a harbinger of things to come then we knew we would have to reconsider our plans, something we did the next day.
Looking back to Guthega Dam
Favorite thing: Today the wind was almost mild by Snowy Mountains' standards, just below gale force as it sent Lorraine’s hair in untold varieties of patterns before she succumbed to a beanie which relieved her discomfort a little. It’s the kind of wind that makes you turn away from it, seeking shelter for your senses, seeking relief for your eyes.
It was clear that today would not be the day we trekked onto the Main Range from Charlottes Pass so we immediately opted to do other things, even in the immediate vicinity.
The swathes of wildflowers bedecked the mountainsides in carpets of gold and white and with splashes here and there of delicate pinks and purples midst the green backdrop of twisted snow gums, tortured and shaped by the ferocious winds that rage unhindered across the high passes of the main range.
Just beneath Charlottes Pass we sought refuge on the lee side and sought a way through the lush but fragile flora. We didn’t know if this was an exceptional summer, we were simply glad to have time in such a special place and we were simply amazed at every 5 metres how the view and possibilities changed.
At times mosses held sway on the sodden ground; at others the broken bodies of ancient eucalypts were scattered like fossil bones, their scraggy shapes belying the harsh existence they had led; above, the clouds threatened, layers of alternate colours bespoke rain in the offing though we knew not when.
Here and there the granite outcrops matched their dull hue; I wondered how many blasts of ice bearing winter winds it took to scar such monuments, yet scarred they were into solid bold shapes, rarely were they thin, the winds would not allow this.
After a time we pushed on down the mountains, past Spencer’s Creek and on to Guthega, stopping while someone chose to shoot a watercourse at Pipers Creek en route. Said person realised when Guthega carpark was reached they had left their new 10-20mm lens behind which necessitated a return trip and another 20 minutes wasted. Said person shall remain nameless but I know you know who it was.
Finally we got underway. Our new chosen destination was the Illawong Walk though we were just a little uncertain as to where it left from; so we headed down towards Guthega Dam and crossed over. After around half an hour we decided we were heading in the wrong direction and reversed our tracks. On the point of giving up we agreed to give one last track a go and finally stumbled onto the Illawong Trail after about five minutes.
Fondest memory: Though we hadn’t raised much excitement during our first forty minutes, this trail along Kosciuszko Creek showed promise and by the time we reached the footbridge we didn’t know where to look; the photographic opportunities were seemingly endless. Wildflowers bespecked the landscape, framed by the snow gums and split by rushing waters that flashed white when diverted by the rocky bed.
Lines of dead trees
Favorite thing: I once read a story of a mountain climber who set out to bag the highest peaks on the five continents. He chose Kosciuszko first but never made it. Foul weather ate up all his time and he had to return years later to complete the task. It’s just a reminder that not all days are as benign as the one we were having. Skiers who’ve experienced Thredbo on windy days can attest to that!
We utilized the excellent toilet block at the intersection. It was a surprise to us that there was one there. Then we moved on, past the Main Range Trail and up the last 800 metres to the top. Judging by the amount of people here on this day, we must have been some of the last Australians to perform this feat.
Fondest memory: It’s a wonderful feeling to sit atop and know that there’s nothing for a few thousand kilometres that’s any higher. We shouted ourselves our pre-packed lunch and chilled out for 20 minutes, soaking up the atmosphere and sipping our cordial.
On the way back we took more note of the delicate flowers, pondering how hardy any plant would have to be to survive up here. The summer meadows are a windblown treat for the eye and all too soon we found ourselves back at the chairlift where we paused for afternoon tea in the Eagle’s Nest, a favourite haunt for skiers in season.
We were distracted from its expansive views from time to time by mountain bikers alighting from the lift. What a great was to spend a day but, sadly, ours was nearly finished but, at least I’d ticked another box.
The opening shot looking south just before the summit shows the effects of the 2003 bushfires.
A couple of my favourite shots are pics 4 (nice reflection) and 5 (panorama about 2 kms before the summit)
It's still a fair way to the top
Favorite thing: We chose the easy route; first riding up the chairlift to Crackenback and then commencing the walk. It still left us 6.5kms to the summit, invisible over the horizon for the next few kms.
I always used to have a bit of a spit about the national park entry fee but I whinge no longer. This walk has been laid for most of its length with steel mesh boardwalk which is superb to walk on. Drifting over the alpine flora in the cool winds of the mountains surrounded by an almost cloudless sky meant we were probably in one of the best places in Australia on New Years Eve. We were walking to Mount Kosciuszko, the correct spelling of which Microsoft haven’t caught up with yet (it was changed in 1997).
We were passed or passed others continually; one of our party kept taking photos which slowed us down a little. The undulating trail meant the drink bottles came in handy but we passed the 2km point where the lookout was situated and didn’t even pause.
Fondest memory: For novices it’s hard to tell just which overgrown hill is Kosciuszko. It’s only the trail that gives it away after you reach the point where it intersects with the Charlotte Pass Trail, a 9km easy gradient hike from the resort of the same name.
From here you can see the Main Range Trail and the one leading to the mount, readily identified by the number of bodies walking there.
In the beginning
Favorite thing: They came with poles, they came with backpacks, they mostly came with hats, they came with beanies, they came with scarves, they wore parkas, they wore board shots, the older and wiser ones wore long sleeves and they brought their lunch. Some made it, some didn’t; some were to be found laying on the side of the trail; it was like a pilgrimage route to the mount; who would be anointed, who would miss out? What miracles might occur before the small pile of stones on the summit?
Fondest memory: For me, the miracle was that so many people were trying to get there. From the sleeping babies (did they really care) in prams, to the elderly (heavens, we were numbered among them), to the loving couples, to the foreign travellers, they came in all shapes and sizes.
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