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Favorite thing: Here and there shadows were cast eerily across the tussock grass while Spanish Moss clung precariously to some holes in the dead branches; an occasional fern cluster sheltered at the base of rock groups and here and there a trickle filtered its way to the master stream below. The wildflowers grabbed a spot wherever they could, the eggs and bacon native pea were more pronounced now while the delightful Kosciuszko Rose showed up here and there.
Then we started on the steps, the fresh rushing waters of Thredbo Creek could be clearly heard about a kilometre away as we moved on without stopping for pics for a change, eagerly seeking a sight of the river.
We reached it and I refilled the water bottle as I had done countless times over the previous days, the promise of pure mountain stream water to good to resist and everywhere it had been crystal clear, filtered water from the melting snows.
The Alpine Way was just across the other side and now motor vehicles contributed to the noise, though thankfully only occasionally, for it’s not a road for the fainthearted. Lorraine was keen to move further down the Thredbo Creek walk, for that was now the one we were on and, about 20 minutes later, we found a shady spot on some rocks in the river to have our repast. It was another memorable lunch among many we’d had this trip, none of which will be forgotten.
We pushed on after that, more goal driven than photography driven, an anxiety to get out of the heat was also foremost in our minds, though when you were in shade it was tolerable. At least it was all gentle downhill and in what seemed no time at all we reached the extremity of the golf course and cruised into the park where I couldn’t resist photographing yet more dragonflies.
Fondest memory: At the start of the day I suggested we take the chair to the summit again and have a celebratory cuppa at Australia’s highest restaurant, the Eagles Nest, and that’s what we did, Lorraine ordering her first ever iced chocolate and we also had some of the nicest garlic prawns we’d ever tasted whilst admiring the extensive panorama over Thredbo.
It had been another wonderful day, what would tomorrow hold.
Written Jan 11, 2013
Favorite thing: DEAD HORSE, DEAD TREES, DEAD ROCKS, IS THERE LIFE UP HERE?
It was amazing how dog tired we were after each day and yet, in the morning, we felt revived enough to attack yet another walk. This time it was to be Dead Horse Gap from Crackenback and then down Thredbo Creek back to the motorhome which would take our total for the four days to about 40 kilometres.
The healing powers of sleep will never be underestimated by Lorraine and me but we also knew this would be our last serious walk of the tour.
It was chairlift to the top of Crackenback and then left this time instead of straight ahead to Kosciuszko. This took us initially past Ramshead, that rugged yet brittle clump of rocks that are much more dramatic than anything Kosciuszko had to offer. Set beyond the summer blooms they dominate the landscape initially offering a stark contrast to the softness of the tiny petals. Further on high the gossamer cirrus clouds eked patterns out in an otherwise brilliant blue sky; we were feeling like privileged people, just how good was this.
Fondest memory: The track is just that; no broad boardwalk today, simply a narrow rut through the flora heading off over the horizon and then descending through a surreal landscape of bleached snow gums darting off at all angles. Defoliated by the horrendous 2003 bushfires, the skeletal remains were so eye catching we stumbled now and then gaping at them. The lignotuber regrowth is different to other trees, they don’t sprout from the branches but from the base and, in this harsh climate, it’s a slow process. It was remarkable to see them in their thousands and know they would all fall over one day but so far stood erect, though lifeless.
Written Jan 11, 2013
Favorite thing: 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.
Fondest memory: 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 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.
Written Jan 6, 2013
Favorite thing: 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.
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.
Fondest memory: 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.
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.
Written Jan 6, 2013
Favorite thing: There was a yearning inside me. I had missed the walk a couple of years before and it gnawed at me. Pictures of Blue Lake that others had taken were so enticing; now, today, it was my turn. Christmas Day 2012 -
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.
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.
Fondest memory: 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.
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.
Written Jan 6, 2013
Favorite thing: The flora was abundant but the legacy of the 2003 bushfires was everywhere. Dead limbs still reached for the sky, slowly being overtaken by new growth but it had some way to go.
I finished opposite the carpark and tried thumbing a lift back, striking it lucky at the fifth attempt in a nice Audi. Wouldn’t do to come back in a Ford or a Holden!
Written Jan 7, 2011
Favorite thing: Still, the weather was the main thing to keep one’s eye on. Clouds were banking up on the horizon and it actually spat rain about three times but never dumped thank goodness.
Towards the top of the 4 km track it crosses the river a few times, on well made bridges except for the last one right at Dead Horse Gap that has been washed away and never replaced
Fondest memory: Pictures two and three are panoramas so you will need to click on the see the full photo.
Updated Jan 7, 2011
Favorite thing: It all started so well. There I was, wallet in hand, ready to buy an annual pass and, what did I hear? “If you have a pension card it’s free to get into the Snowy Mountains NP.” A wave of euphoria came over me. I was thinking skiing on the cheap, how good would that be, but, hey, it was summer and I was here to do other things.
We parked in the Thredbo cap park because I knew it was free too. Awesome. Even Rosemarie was a little keen and it was so good to get away from the coastal heat and humidity.
Fondest memory: We did the Kosciuszko walk the next day and then rested before hitting the Thredbo Creek Trail the following morning. Since Rosemarie didn’t want to take the trail across Ramshead because it might be just a bush track we opted to walk straight up the creek trail.
It was getting just a little warm so Rosemarie opted out and went around the outside of the golf course and strolled around the village while I pushed on.
It was a lovely walk. Often the stream was in view but a lot of the time the track meandered above it and you missed some.
Updated Jan 7, 2011
Favorite thing: After lunch I was let off the leash to do the Waterfall Walk. It was getting a trifle warmer because we had descended a few hundred metres and much of this walk was protected from the wind so there was no respite there. Still, it was a whole lot cooler than on the coast.
I finally got up close and personal to some of the local cicadas, one of 237 Australian types of the specie. They’re only small here and the noise of the males is mercifully somewhat less than the 120 decibels some can put out.
It was the southern mountain squeaker and I'm a bit proud of the shot I managed (pic 5).
Fondest memory: Then there was a dragonfly I’d never seen before, the mountain tigertail. Dragonflies are one of the oldest insects on the planet, going back 280 million years and, amazingly for such a small creature, they can lay 400-2,000 eggs depending on the species.
Updated Jan 7, 2011
Favorite thing: I started making up time on the way back but that got thwarted when I left my Christmas sunnies behind while changing lens on the camera. I managed to retrieve them but was sweating when I did so, perhaps more at the thought that I may have lost them than pure physical exertion.
Fondest memory: Beside the trail at one point was a tree that had grown around a rock and almost looked like it was stopping the rock from rolling downhill.
Written Jan 7, 2011
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