A trip to the top of Australia – Mount Kosciuszko

Back in 2012 I was preparing myself to head back to work after being on maternity leave. Harry was almost 15 months old and I wanted to squeeze in a short holiday before my return. I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before and somewhere that wasn’t more than 2 1/2 hours by plane away. Harry was still happy to be carried in the back pack carrier so I also thought it would be a good opportunity to do some walks that I wouldn’t be able to do again until Harry was quite a bit older. So I chose the Snowy Mountains and Kosciuszko National Park.

Our flight to Canberra was a bit of an event as we had to go via Sydney. Harry was cranky when we boarded the plane on the Gold Coast. Not long after take off, a lovely Virgin crew member swooped past and asked if they could take Harry for a little tour of the plane? Sure! Be our guest. A few moments later though, I looked at Chris and said “We have just let a complete stranger take our child”. But it was a crew member, and we were on a locked plane 30,000 feet in the air so it wasn’t as if he was going to go far. I turned around and saw the crew member showing Harry around the galley and him looking very interested. It may have only been a 10 minute reprieve from our grumpy little man but it was very much appreciated! By the time we boarded the ‘Canberra connect’ flight in Sydney Harry had lost the plot. He was cranky and let all the Canberra bound bureaucrats on board know it. I have never been on a flight before where there was only one child but here we were. And it was us. Thankfully the Virgin crew and fellow passengers tolerated us and we made it to Canberra Airport with our sanity somehow intact.

We collected our bags and hire car and hit the road. First stop was lunch in the town of Cooma on the way up to the Snowy Mountains followed by a stretch of the legs at the Mount Gladstone Lookout just on the outskirts of town.

 

Views over the Manaro Plains from Gladstone lookout
Views over the Manaro Plains from Mount Gladstone lookout

 

Walking back from Gladstone lookout
Walking back from Mount Gladstone lookout

 

Then it was back into the car to drive the rest of the way to what would be our base for the next four nights, Lhotsky apartments in Thredbo. We spent the afternoon exploring the village of Thredbo before having a delicious dinner at the Black Bear Inn. Then it was time for an early night. The next day we would take on Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain.

 

checking out our apartment at Lhotsky, Thredbo
Checking out our apartment at Lhotsky, Thredbo

 

The Lhotsky apartment has Harrys tick of approval
The Lhotsky apartment has Harrys tick of approval

 

Mount Kosciuszko

The morning dawned sunny but there were a few dark clouds hovering over the range. We walked down along the Thredbo River to the Chairlift. After strapping Harry to Chris with his child harness (I was not taking any chances!) we began our ascent. Up and up we went. The 15 minute ride took us up and over the grassy green slope and towards the granite tors near Eagles Nest. The easy part was over. We got off the chairlift, I adjusted Harry into the backpack carrier we began our walk to the top of Australia.

 

The morning dawns bright and sunny in Thredbo on the morning of our Kosciuszko walk
The morning dawns bright and sunny in Thredbo on the morning of our Kosciuszko walk

 

Up and up we go on the chairlift
Up and up we go on the chairlift

 

Getting closer
Higher and higher we go!

 

The walk begins!
The walk begins!

 

The walk takes us past the rocky outcrops of Ramshead Range and across the headwaters of the Snowy River. The track is mostly on a raised metal platform to protect the fragile vegetation beneath and is a fairly easy grade. As we walk higher we pass the glacial Lake Cootapatamba and then reach Rawsons Pass. There are toilet facilities here and you can either keep going up Mount Kosciuszko or turn and take the track to Charlottes Pass.

 

Almost back at the lifts

 

granite boulders dotted about the landscape

 

Headwaters of the Snowy River
Headwaters of the Snowy River

 

Rocky outcrops along the track5

 

Rocky outcrops along the track3

 

 

Sweeping views over the Snowy mountains

 

Rocky outcrops along the track4

 

Harry at Rawsons Pass
Harry at Rawsons Pass

 

Rocky outcrops along the track

 

Rocky outcrops along the track2

 

The metal walkway ends at Rawsons Pass and  the final and steepest ascent of the walk begins up to the summit. We spend a good hour or so having lunch on top of Australia and watching the vast landscape of the Snowy Mountains change under the varying light conditions. Sunny for a while, then big clouds would roll over, then sunny again.

 

Harry conquers Kosciuszko
Harry conquers Kosciuszko

 

Harry conquers Kosciuszko 2

 

Views from the top of Mount Kosciuszko 3

 

Views from the top of Mount Kosciuszko

 

Views from the top of Mount Kosciuszko4

 

Views from the top of Mount Kosciuszko2

 

Lunch on top of Australia
Lunch on top of Australia

 

views of the track we have just walked up

 

Harry hits the track
Harry hits the track

 

The return walk was just as interesting as the walk up. This alpine country really is very beautiful and peaceful. Mountains upon mountains, creeks, bogs and gorgeous rock formations mean there is always something to look at.

 

Lake Cootapatamba
Lake Cootapatamba

 

kosicuszko walk2

 

kosicuszko walk

 

Headwaters of the Snowy River2

 

Headwaters of the Snowy River

 

Made it! Approaching the chairlift ready for our ride back to warmth, food and wine
Made it! Approaching the chairlift ready for our ride back to warmth, food and wine

 

Writing this blog post now, over 2 years after doing the walk I remember sitting down outside of our apartment late that afternoon watching the sunset. I recall looking up towards Eagles Nest and the start of the Kosciuszko track and not feeling like I had ticked a walk off my bucket list, but that this walk had somehow changed me, left an imprint on me. I loved the openness and vastness of this walk. Those 6 hours spent walking and sitting and being so close to the sky made me feel small in its largeness yet wonderfully connected to the land and earth I was walking on at the same time. I love that wondrous feeling that only hiking in nature can give me.

 

Time for a wine after the walk
Time for a wine and some reflection after walking to the top of Australia

 

*I should note that we did this trip in April 2012. Four days after we left snow fell on the Mountain. Always check the weather, plan ahead and make sure you have warm clothes and rain protection before setting out as the weather can change quickly up in the Alpine country.

At a Glance

 

mapMount Kosciuszko Summit Walk 13kms return from the top of the Thredbo Chairlift. http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/kosciuszko-walk-thredbo-to-mount-kosciuszko

map

Mount Gladstone Lookout 3.5 kms west of Cooma on Snowy Mountains Hwy. http://visitcooma.com.au/attractions/mt-gladstone/

mapBlack Bear Inn 30 Diggings Terrace Thredbo Alpine Village

http://www.blackbearinn.com.au/home.html

mapKosciuszko Chairlift
https://www.thredbo.com.au/activities/summer-activities/scenic-chairlift/

map

Lhotsky Apartments Thredbo Village 212 kms from Canberra 2hrs 35 mins. Ask about the special out of season rates. https://www.lanternapartments.com.au/thredbo-apartments/lhotsky-apartments/?gclid=CP-5m-n0zccCFQaXvQodOR0Itg

 

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7 Responses

  1. Although it’s a pretty easy walk to get there, it’s still a fantastic feeling standing up there. Although we still shake our heads over the people pushing prams and the ladies wearing the dodgiest footwear on the metal grill path – maybe they weren’t warned… Ditto re taking appropriate clothing – we saw plenty of tourists get caught out by a gusty shower that came through.
    Such magnificent country, our alpine areas. Thanks Amanda 🙂

    • I agree with you Dayna that the alpine country is magnificent, and that some people are crazy with the kind of clothing they set out in. We saw a few people turn back half way as they didn’t have jackets and temperature had dropped right down. A ranger at the top of the chairlift told us he sees under prepared people all the time (we saw one woman in sandles, funny enough we never saw her make it to the summit!). I told him I was worried that Harry might get cold. He checked out what he was wearing (thermals under this tracksuit, and a beanie and I had a thicker jacket in the backpack), he put his hand down the back of Harrys neck and told us that he would be fine, and that the best place to check was down the back of his neck and that if he is cold there then thats when you need to add layers ASAP.
      It was an easy grade walk, but as I was carrying a 13 kg child wriggling about on my back for most of it I still got a decent workout (hubby had a neck injury at the time and couldn’t carry Harry on his back). I was showing Harry this post today and he wants to go back and do it again. I told him its probably a bit too much of a walk for a 4 year old, to which he replies “No mum, I can do it, I am good at long walks” 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting Dayna.

  2. I’d love to do this walk! Beautiful pictures, Amanda. I prefer walks that are a bit more open and involve some great views. I can still remember what it was like to carry heavy toddlers though so I can imagine the exertion required to carry Harry on your back though. I’ve never had to take an active grumpy toddler on a plane trip though and shudder at the thought. Well done for getting through that ordeal! Another great post. Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Jane, that plane trip was the worst one we have had with Harry, thankfully he’s usually pretty good. The walk to the top of Kosciuszko is definitely worth doing for seeing a completely different landscape here in Australia (up above the tree line where snow lays for much of the year reminded me of the fells in Finnish Lapland) and for the wide sweeping views over the snowy mountains. I struggled to get good photos in the low light conditions (lots of low lying clouds) but hopefully I’ve provided a bit of a glimpse to what it’s like. I know I say it all the time but the photos just can’t capture the beauty of the place. Thanks for commenting Jane 🙂

  3. Next time Harry can carry you!

  4. Thanks for this article, we weren’t sure how to take her on the chairlift. We’re heading up there tomorrow with our 18 month old and a backpack carrier. After reading your article I will make sure she’s got a singlet under the long sleeve top! We’ve also packed a thick jacket, thermal top and pants, beanie and sunscreen, and of course LOTS of food and water.

    • Hi Emmy, hope the weather is good for you tomorrow. We kind of “attached” Harry to Chris with a little walking harness while on the chair lift. But to be honest he didn’t wriggle about he was too busy eating and watching the scenery. Enjoy the walk and thanks for commenting 🙂

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