It will come as no shock to hear that I am a big fan of hiking, but you may be surprised to learn that I have not done too much here in Australia. The main reason for this is not because I think New Zealand (where I have done most of my hiking) is better or more picturesque – the two countries could not be more different – but, I’m going to be completely honest and confess that it’s because I’m terrified of encountering snakes!
So after hearing the same old arguments that have been trotted out to me for years, which I have to say I’m not even certain are true, such as “they’re more scared of you than you are of them” and “they can feel you coming through the vibrations on the ground and get out of the way” it’s time to bite the bullet and head out into the great outdoors.
Before heading to Jindabyne and into the Kosciuszko National Park, we stop in at the state-of-the-art visitor facility just out of Cooma, which showcases the amazing story of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. The project commenced in 1949 and employed workers from 27 nations – just another example of the origins of multiculturalism here in Australia. The size and scope of the Scheme is incredible and it is fascinating to discover how large a role the Scheme plays in generating renewable energy for Australia as well as water for irrigation.
I had always thought that the Kosciuszko National Park was a winter destination. Friends and family have skied at both Perisher and Thredbo, but as my skiing skills are on a par with my dancing skills – that is, two left feet involved – I had never joined them on their après ski holidays. But Kosciuszko has so much more to offer, from camping and mountain biking to 4×4 driving and hiking.
There are literally dozens of hiking tracks to choose from, with both short, easy terrain strolls taking around 15-30 minutes to complete through to longer hikes for the more experienced walker which can take a day or two to complete. Whatever your level of fitness you could happily spend a week or so hiking the tracks in the park.
We choose the 6km round trip Waterfall Track which starts at the Sawpit Creek picnic area. We park the car there and headed of on the track which passes under the road before running alongside the creek. As we walk through the bush we spot kangaroos grazing in a clearing. They don’t appear too worried to see us and keep a watchful eye on us as we pass. Some of the tall alpine ash trees we see look like they may have been struck by lightning, their fibrous bark all that stands as inside the trunks are hollow and burnt. The track crosses the creek below a small waterfall before heading past huge granite boulders on the way back to the picnic area.
Once back in the car, we head further down the road towards Thredbo Village. We stop at the Charlottes Pass lookout and set out along the Snow Gums Boardwalk, a mere 500 metre return walk. Thankfully it is a clear day and we enjoy fantastic views out over some of Australia’s highest peaks. There are many walking and cycling opportunities nearby, alongside the river or to historic huts.
For more information visit www.nswnationalparks.com.au