There’s a quote on the National Parks of Australia website that goes “We walked to the top of Mount Kosciuszko – what a view. It was like we were on top of the world.”
I saw it, I liked it, and I thought, why not.
Most people head to the nearby towns of Thredbo and Jindabyne in the winter for all their winter sports attractions, but summer offers plenty of reasons to head south, and in fact up to 100,000 people a year visit the Kosciuszko National Park for hiking, camping and mountain biking.
The Kosciuszko National Park is about 400 kilometers from Sydney so if you decide that you like the idea as well, and you’re coming from Sydney, then it’s best to put aside three days to do it properly. A day getting there, a day for the walk and a day home.
It’s a beautiful drive from Jindabyne up to Thredbo, around 35 kilometers, and with some wonderful views along the way, keep your eyes peeled, there’s plenty of opportunity to see some wildlife, think emus, kangaroos and blue tongue lizards.
You’ll be hit with a park entrance fee ($16) about halfway along the highway which is good for 24 hours, weirdly though, and this may only be the case in the off season, parking in Thredbo is actually free.
From Thredbo the best way to tackle the walk is with a chairlift ride to start of the walk.
Buying the chairlift tickets from what is a rather shabby and rundown shopping center is, to be fair, not a great introduction to the Kosciuszko park, they offer a bit of information about the weather on the summit ( temp:5 Deg, feels like 1 deg.)the chairlift itself is expensive and as it bumps it’s way along it’s path you pass above some pretty damaged landscape, cleared of forest for the winter ski slopes, in summer it turns into a downhill mountain bike facility.
Once you get to the top of the chairlift though, things pick up pretty quickly, the path, lined now with a metal grid to save the fragile alpine heather heads up past the beautiful rocky granite outcrop called the Rams Head Range and through heathlands for a couple of kilometers before reaching a lookout point.
The Alpine heather has a special vibrant quality to it, and becomes a bed of wildflowers in spring.
Despite the park hosting many thousands of people each year, by far the majority of visitors is in the winter months when the ski season is on, going in summer, and if you’re lucky you may very well have the track to yourself.
From the first lookout point the track to the summit is around 5 kilometers, the suggested walk time for the whole round trip is six hours, this is pretty generous and probably takes into account either bad weather or allowing for plenty of stops along the way.
The weather can change rapidly across the Snowy Mountains, and a sunny blue outlook in Thredbo can be swapped for a howling wind and foggy cloud whipping around you on the mountain obscuring the views one moment, and revealing wide open Alpine views the next.
The Snowy Mountains region is thought to have had Aboriginal occupation for some twenty thousand years and the area was first explored by European settlers back in 1835, although it wasn’t until 1840 that Edmund Strzelecki climbed Mount Kosciuszko and named it after a Polish war patriot.
Almost at the top you will come across Rawson Pass, where Australia’s highest public toilet is handily located, from here it’s a 2 kilometer push to the summit.
With a height of just 2,228 meters it’s nothing more than a pimple on a pumpkin but a wonderful experience and a must do event.