Snowy Mountains Adventures…..

With Covid, and lockdowns, ruining all of our second half of 2021 travel plans, we were excited to finally be able to get away for a few days, just prior to Christmas. With school done for the year, we packed the car, loaded the bikes, and headed south for a few days based in Jindabyne and some hiking and riding.

Trevor and Lorraine (aka Grandma and Grandpa) were also along for the trip as Lorraine was keen to do some hikes in the region.

After herding the small cats (uh, children) we managed to arrive in Crakenback in time for lunch at Wild Brumby.

A yummy lunch, and some drinks, before the kids worked off a bit of energy running around the grounds….. while Anto and I stocked up on schnapps and gin (just in case there is more homeschool in our future 🙂 ).

With full bellies, we headed back down into Jindabyne, and noticed just how full Lake Jindabyne was, with all the Spring and early Summer rain. Some of our planned rides were looking like they might be under water. We’d never seen the lake this high!

After a little unpacking it was time for wander around to check out all that water and pick up a few supplies.

It was definitely different seeing the picnic tables and park under water! We had to reassess our planned leg stretching ride for the afternoon, and instead head off the other way. Alas we came across more flooded paths anyway!

The day ended with a pretty nice sunset over the lake, as we convinced the kids on the need for an early night before an big day of hiking the next day……

Up bright and early (of course) on a sunny Tuesday, just before Christmas, we packed up a days worth of hiking gear, had a good breakfast, and headed off in the car to pick up Trevor and Lorraine at their nearby accommodation. The forecast was for another warm, mid to high 20’s day in Jindaybne but much cooler up in Thredbo, and cooler again on Kosciusko.

The plan was for Trevor to be our support vehicle, and after we made the slow trip into the National Park and got our pass for the day, it was a fairly short drive up to Thredbo. Trevor then headed back down to Jindabyne to await our call to let him know where and when we were going to be picked up. He had a very important task for the day – find us somewhere for dinner, as we were likely to be hungry!

While Anto purchased our lift tickets we made sure we had plenty of sunscreen on as it was bright and sunny in Thredbo. While the lift pass staff diligently checked with everyone purchasing tickets that they had water, food and sunscreen for the trip, we were alarmed that so many didn’t! Even the return hike to the summit from Thredbo top-station is a reasonable undertaking in time and effort! We were carrying water, food, sunscreen, warm-clothes and first-aid equipment, plus my camera gear, yet there were people wandering up in thongs and T-shirts without more than a 600mL bottle of water!

The next task was getting the six of us on a chairlift, always a terrifying prospect. Anto, Zinnia, myself, the giant hiking pack and the camera gear were on one chairlift and Lorraine got Astrid, Soren and the smaller backpacks.

We managed to all get on safely and no child was left behind….. even if I did hear screams of ‘Soren, sit down quickly’ coming from behind me…..

Zinnia thoroughly enjoyed her ride up and over the beautiful wildflowers. All the rain had ensured plenty of green grass.

We could see Astrid and Soren waving from the chairlift behind us as we made our way up towards the top station. Chairlifts rate up there with cable cars for me. Definitely not a fan, despite the nice scenery. I’ve survived about 25 billion (or so it seems) chairlifts in Europe what’s another dangling in-mid air experience!

Being a beautiful time of year (and school holidays) there were plenty of bikes out on the trails, and it was fun watching them zip below us. No bikes for us today though, just our legs to carry us…..

As we approached the top station the temperature had well and truly dropped, and the wind was up so jumpers were on! It was a beautiful clear and sunny day as we headed off, departing Thredbo top station at just before 10.45am.

Zinnia started off with a bit of a ride on my back, but we quickly convinced her that the first bit of path was fairly flat and wide so she could walk along with us.

On our drive to Jindabyne, the previous day, we could see patches of snow on the mountains, from as far back as Cooma! Despite it being Summer and having reasonably sunny days, there was still plenty of snow around, and even more as we headed up towards Kosciusko.

The hike from Thredbo top station to the summit is a well marked track and the lower sections are almost entirely on a paved or metal trail, making for easy walking, although you are still gaining elevation as you go so it’s not easy on the legs.

It’s an extremely scenic walk, with plnety of chances to see all the native flora up close and into the distance. There aren’t many trees, to obscure the view!

There were plenty of walkers out on the trail, a constant snaking stream of walkers as far as you could see.

With the rain and snow melt we passed plenty of streams and the kids verified the water was pretty cold!

The track definitely trended up most of the time but the kids happily wandered along, chatting and snacking and checking out the lovely wildflowers and grasses….

Like crazy-snow deprived Aussies, the patches of snow were covered in kids and adults playing in the snow!

Meanwhile Zinnia had walked really well, and once we reached the summit lookout, the first point you can see Kosciusko clearly, we all stopped for a break and a snack.

Soon it was onwards and upwards as we headed towards the summit. With nothing obscuring our view you can see the line of walkers for several kilometres, heading upwards.

Once we reached the higher sections, the snow patches extended down towards the trail. Of course the kids couldn’t resist playing in it!

Having walked most of the way to the, summit lookout, Zinnia was enjoying riding on my back for the second half of the mornings walk.

As we kept heading up, there are great views of Lake Cootapatamba.

As we went past the Rawson’s Pass intersection we spied people having to climb over snow that was covering the marked trail. Of course Zinnia was alseep on my back at the time, making for an interesting time as Lorraine and I headed down below the snow line and back up again, while the others decided to slip and slide through.

Pretty soon we were winding our way back around the back of the mountain, on the last section towards the summit. You can see this steep section from kilometres away, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked and we made our way around to the summit to find plenty of people also ready for lunch!

It had taken us around 1 hour and 45 minutes moving time to reach the summit, having covered 6.6km and ascended from 1,931m above sea level to 2,228m above sea level , the highest point in Australia!

Pretty good going with 3 kids…… and the big 2 kids carrying packs 🙂 We’d walked the last section with our hats mostly off as the wind was quite fierce up this high and with no trees to slow it down. However, carrying a 16.5kg Zinnia I was plenty warm enough.

We all had some sandwiches for lunch, a drink and a look at the magnificient views. Not a bad place for a lunch picnic, although a few too many people in a small space given the rapidly rising Covid cases!

We took plenty of photos but then had to convince the kids it was time to head down and work out whether we were going to continue on to Charlotte’s Pass, as we originally intended, or go back the way we came to Thredbo.

It was now fairly warm, and despite the wind a few of us abandoned our jumpers and coats. The top section back down from the summit is quite steep and we had the snow crossing to contend with, so a now very awake Zinnia, got a ride on Anto while I got the hiking pack to make me sweaty instead!

The views on the way down were just as impressive and it was a little easier on the legs.

You really can see for miles, and there weren’t many clouds in the sky obscuring our views.

The kids had been doing some amazing walking, although Soren wasn’t convinced he wanted to walk across to Charlotte’s Pass and was trying to convince us to head back to Thredbo (mostly so he could get another chairlift ride). At the chairlift station they had warned us that many of the trails were closed due to flooding and they weren’t sure if the Charlotte’s Pass trail would be free of snow, ice or flooding. However, on the way up we’d seen plenty of people heading across that way (you can see for miles) and a few bikes, so we thought we’d probably be OK.

Soon we hit the snow section again. This time Anto had Zinnia on his back but it was still a bit tricky to get across, but none of us ended up too wet.

As we descended back down towards Rawson’s Pass, the views were magnificient!

You could see for miles and it certainly didn’t look like the weather was going to interfere with our walk!

Back down at the Pass, and the one and only toilet on the hike, we had a quick break and informed Soren that although he’d ‘more prefer to go back to Thredbo and take the chairlift down’ we were heading out to Charlotte’s Pass as we were banking on it being a clear walk through.

The trail through to Charlotte’s Pass is accessible by bike (both directions) and we saw plenty of people riding. It is slightly downhill from the direction we travelled but more people seemed to be riding the other way, and trudging uphill in the gravel. We thought being on a bike right about now would be rather fun, but had to rely on leg power instead (even though Zinnia had insisted on wearing her bike jumper!).

The scenery through to Charlotte’s Pass is a little different. The trail ran parallel to the ridge line, with the river below. The trail was mostly loose gravel, rather than brick or metal boardwalk. Again with the lack of trees, you can see for miles, as the trail snakes it’s way around towards Charlotte’s Pass.

After a few kilometres along the Kosciuszko Summit Trail, from the Rawson’s Pass turn-off we can to the Seamans’ Hut. You can spot it from quite a distance! The hut is located about 6km from Charlotte’s Pass and can be used as an overnight shelter. There is also a story (and memorial) inside of snowboarders who died several years before, not far from reaching the hut. While we could see it for miles in Summer, it was obviously much harder in Winter.

By now we had walked well over 10km and the little legs were getting weary. We still had a few snacks and plenty of water left so kept munching and chatting as we wound our way along the track. There were a few other groups of walkers in this section but about 5% of the traffic from the Summit section.

The views were again rather stunning. Clear blue skies, wildflowers, different coloured rocks and boulders, patches of snow and pretty streams and snow melt.

As you follow the Summit Trail, you cross the Snowy River a couple of times as the river criss-crosses back and forward.

With the bright sunshine and warming temperatures, our legs were getting a bit tired, but the kids were powered through the last section by a few extra lollies and the motivation to make it to Charlottes Pass so we could try and get back to Thredbo for a gondola ride before it closed. Unfortunately we hadn’t realised that to get back around by road was going to take us too long, but at the time it seemed like a good plan and an excellent kid-motivator!

We knew we were approaching Charlotte’s Pass when groups of joggers were appearing from the Charlotte’s Pass end. The last kilometre or two we picked up the pace and all of a sudden the trail twisted out of sight and we could see Charlotte’s Pass approaching…….

….. and we made it – 16.5km, 354m of elevataion with 3 hours and 54 minutes of moving time (just on 5 hours elapsed time). Not a bad effort for an 8 and 10 year old….. and Miss Zinnia had walked about 4 or 5 kilometres of it. Anto and I had carried around 10-17kg the whole time so also felt a little tired!

Well, we never made the gondola (the kids were somewhat inconsolable, parent fail on that one). But, Trevor was there ready to collect us and we were rather pleased to hop into and airconditioned car for the trip back to Jindabyne and some cold drinks and a shower!

To make up for all that walking we had to do a little bit of eating! We refuelled after the hiking day with some Indian and then had a few other nice meals out, a yummy Japanese dinner and a great cafe brunch. The kids might have also had a few iceblocks to cool off 🙂

After a big day of hiking our next day we planned to stretch our legs with another ride on the trails. It might have ended up being some of the most inefficient kilometres we’ve ever done. Between the dirt, rocks and random flooded bits of trails we had to detour around we burnt off a lot of energy for not many kilometres!

We did make our way around parts of the Mill Creek track, which gave great views of the flooded lake. It turns out Lorraine was walking the same sections in the opposite direction, and was finding it equally inefficient on foot.

We lost count of the number of times the track ran into sections of flooding, but it made for an adventurous outing!

Between hiking and riding the kids made plenty of use of the Banjo Patterson Park. We aren’t used to seeing it quite so under water, but luckily there were still plenty of bits on high enough ground (just!).

The extra water around certainly made for some pretty spectacular shots of the lake. The locals were taking advantage of being able to paddle and SUP board around the park area too!

After a lovely few days away (how good is it to actually go somewhere!). We bid farewell to the Snowy Mountains and Jindabyne and headed back to Canberra, via a pick up of a giant Christmas turkey 😛

We had all worked up an appetite for Christmas lunch and finally giving the camera a workout somewhere outside of Canberra. I definitely got some great shots of a beautiful area!

We were all looking forward to our next planned adventure, Melbourne (stay tuned for those photos)…..

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