On the foreshore of Lake Jindabyne (and easily seen from the road) is a huge statue of Count Paul Strzelecki who explored the wilderness of the Snowy Mountains, named Australia's highest mountain and had a life worthy of a novel. The plaque on his statue reads:
'Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki. Born in Poland on 20 July 1797. Arrived in Australia on 25 April 1839. From 1839 to 1843 he explored and surveyed vast areas of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. While exploring in the Snowy Mountains region he discovered and climbed Mt Kosciuszko which he named in honour of the Polish leader and patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko. He discovered gold and silver in New South Wales, coal deposits in Tasmania, investigated the possibilities of irrigation, measured the heights of mountains, carried out soil analysis and collected and identified many fossils and minerals. Geology, meteorology, zoology and mineralogy.'
The park surrounding this statue has other little treasures and, in late winter and early spring there are some gorgeous blossoms surrounding the well defined walking paths. One of the things I came across was this ancient born-again tree that struck me immediately as a work of art.
A massive construction program, above and below the ground, occupied workers for 25 years.
Australian and overseas contractors built:
7 power stations
145 kilometres of tunnels
80 kilometres of aqueducts
and access roads were cut through the mountainous country.
World tunnelling records were established on the Scheme. In 1961, the Australian firm Thiess Bros (started by an expat Italian), were contracted for the Geehi section of the Snowy-Geehi tunnel. In 1963, the firm established the world record for hard rock tunnelling when 165 metres of tunnel was formed in a week.
The longest tunnel is the Eucumbene-Snowy at 23.5 kilometres. This tunnel diverts the water of the Snowy River from Island Bend Pondage to storage in Lake Eucumbene, and when required returns the water to the Snowy-Geehi Tunnel at Island Bend.
Murray 1 Power Station near Khancoban - guided tours 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm and 2.00pm. Tumut 3 Power Station near Talbingo - guided tours 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.30pm and 2.30pm. Tumut 2 Power Station near Cabramurra - guided tour times are: 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm during Weekdays during school terms and 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm, 2.00pm on weekends and holidays. Bookings are essential. Murray 1 Inflowmation Station located at Murray 1 Power Station on the Alpine Way near Khancoban. Developed around the theme water and the environment, the inflowmation station combines videos, computers, photos, movement, lights and water to explore the scheme's role in river management, irrigation and electricity generation. There is free access to the visitor's gallery at Murray Group Control Centre near Khancoban, Guthega Power Station and Jindabyne Pumping Station daily between 8.30am and 4.00pm. Inspections of the Guthega Power Station and Jindabyne Pumping Station may be arranged by contacting the authority's information centre in Cooma. Access at all times to viewing points and toilet facilities situated at various power stations, dams and other points of interest.
Yes, the northern hemisphere has more snow, yes it gets colder, yes they have longer (a lot longer) runs, no, they don't have snow gums.
The one thing I really miss skiing overseas is snowgums.
Yellow, green, grey, beige, red, orange, black and a few other colours I can't think of at the moment. Whatever, their twisted shapes have them all. Set against a ridiculously clear blue sky they are a feast for the eye.
This one is on top of the lower T-bar at Guthega but, whatever part of the mountains you're on, they're there for all to see.
I actually only took this shot when my camera was playing up to see what would happen but it's a useful guide to showing you what to expect when you alight at Blue Cow.
If you blow the picture up you'll clearly see all the above-ground facilities at Blue Cow and they sit atop the underground station so it's all very convenient.
From there it's an easy run down to the terrain park (from where this shot was taken) and the lifts that take you to the black runs shown earlier.
Blue Cow is centrally located between Perisher and Guthega and is a good starting point for your day if you get there early as you can get some good runs in before the crowds arrive from Perisher and Smiggins.
This is a shot of the Blue Cow T-Bar, the uppermost one at Guthega but it gets its name because you can access Blue Cow from the top of here.
From the top as shown here you can go left to Parachute when it's open and that will take you to the only chair on Guthega, the Car Park Double, which you then return on to the base of Blue Cow T-bar before catching it up to do the run again.
My favourite run, Schnaxl, rated black but really only good intermediate or blue, goes off to the right, as does access to Blue Cow and the other two black runs, The Screw and Mother-In-Law.
This view also highlights the fact that you may get glorious weather from time to time down here but, be warned - you will get sunburnt if you don't take precautions!
I know this from bitter personal experience.
Guthega rarely, if ever, gets crowded, as the main access points to the Perisher group are at Perisher carpark itself or the skitube (an underground train) which lets you off at Perisher or Blue Cow.
Most of the people at Guthega are those staying at the accommodation there.
This picture doesn't really do the park justice. It has some really good jumps but the problem is that I took this whilst waiting to take the previous shot and I am actually leaning up against the biggest jump of them all.
There are two parallel double jumps. The one I am leaning up against is for those who want to get serious air time and is the second of the two.
Visible here are a couple of humps and one of the three slide rails.
There is another terrain park in front of the main carpark at Perisher which features some very serious jumps (only experts need apply) while Thredbo has a new terrain park right in the middle of one of its top-to-bottom runs.
Now, I'm not a snowboarder personally, but I do have some friends that are!
I also subscribe to the "Farmers and the cowboys should be friends" attitude............even though I have to wait at the top of every chairlift while they strap themselves in again after clumsily alighting when I could be off skiing......mmmm.
Anyhow, one of the changes that snowboarding has bought is jumps. Purpose built jumps. Jumps with attitude. There's also half pipes, rails, walls and other assorted items to get your kicks on.
This shot was taken at the Blue Cow Terrain Park.
This is another part of the epic Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme, the highest part as it turns out.
The water, rather obviously using gravity, comes roaring down the pipes when the valves are open and, hey presto, electricity!
Guthega 1 is clearly visible beside the road if you drive to Guthega to ski.
The impact on Australia and Europe was significant. Initially shielded from the general population due to the location of the project, the huge volume of skilled and unskilled migrants eventually filtered through into the general population.
This post-WWII influx was the biggest change in Australia's culture since the arrival of those who made the first settlement in what is now known as Sydney.
It wasn't the only place that migrants came to, it was just the most significant.
Thus the nation was slowly introduced to espresso coffee, pizza, souvlaki and a host of other food items. How do Australians feel about this? We're loving it!
Over 100,000 people worked on the scheme. Strangely, the end result is that it is hardly ever utilized to its fullest advantage. It's mainly used as a standby when other systems fail or are overloaded during peak times.
Then, within a matter of seconds, the butterfly valves are turned and the power bursts forth, turning the huge turbines.
Amazingly, when the demand lessens, all the water is then pumped back uphill into the dam it came from!
The harsh conditions during the construction times gave us a tough breed of workers who, when the project was over, branched into the community and many became successful in other fields due to their hard work ethic.
There's a musical note or two for you. I've included this photo to reinforce that in Australia the snow is rarely that lovely dry type you get in other countries.
Though it snows over an area greater than Switzerland we don't get as much and it doesn't stay as long.
On many days it's just snowing, i.e. any warmer and it would be sleet. That doesn't mean we don't get great days it's just that we don't get as many of them.
This shot of Rosemarie is taken on the Crackenback Chairlift, the main one at Thredbo, in October when the season has virtually ended and people use this lift to go to the top and walk to Mount Kosciusko, Australia's highest point. You have to remember, it's not one of those big pointy things like you see in other mountain ranges, just a spot that's higher than the surrounding slopes.
I once read a book about a man whose ambition was to climb the highest peaks on all the continents. He chose Kosciusko first because, rather obviously, it was going to be a doddle and he could tick one off his list. Unlucky, the weather here can be pretty horrible and, though he'd allocated four days, he never made it. He had to leave it till last!
Once there were three separate ski-fields, now there are four, all linked. Smiggins Hole, Perisher and Guthega were the original three and Blue Cow was added later. It's fair to suggest this is the most consistently good ski area in Australia.
It is far and away Australia's most popular ski resort, with access by car or by skitube, a purpose built train that goes through a tunnel from the Thredbo road to access the slopes. Its advantage is that it can also take you directly to Blue Cow that otherwise requires you to ski over via a couple of lifts.
Some of the steepest slopes are here but, by overseas standards, they don't go very far. Still, you can thoroughly enjoy yourself down there and all kinds are catered for, from beginners to experts and you can usually find a place to ski away from the crowds, except on the beginners slopes!
Snow making machinery is used when possible, particularly on the beginners and intermediate areas. Depending on where you ski the snow may soften up in the afternoon, most notably in spring.
There are places to eat all around and it's fairly safe to say that you couldn't do all the slopes in a single day.
Also, make sure you bring your wallet or credit card with you. Skiing in Australia is expensive.
One of the things I often do when I'm in Kosciusko National Park (mainly skiing) is stop and admire the trees. Snow gums are unique in the world.
They may appear in burnt orange, khaki, bone, grey, black and other assorted hues. They are mostly twisted and knarled due to the ferocity of winds that can occur up here and to the occasional bushfire that transgresses in summer. They are survivors, of that we can be sure by their presence alone and many of them are akin to works of art. Character is something they definitely possess.
After a couple of days of cross-country skiing we decided that we should spend an afternoon of snow-play so we found a great rocky outcrop with lots of fresh snow on it and views out to the slopes and he cross-counrty trails and set about making our snowman. We had brought wih us hats and sunnies and carrots and scarves, found twigs for arms, stones for eyes etc....
Its amazing how long it takes to make a snowman though! We spent a good hour with the 4 of us using a toboggan to cart snow around but we finally had a finished-product (the best one we has seen on our whole trip to the snow....honest!) and decided that he should be a snow-bear rather than snow-man so we put some ears on and then played dress-ups and photo shoots! Yes, we are all in our early 20's!!
Thredbo is the second most popular resort in N.S.W. and has a fair amount of accommodation on site, albeit at a fair (read not-cheap) price.
Thredbo has four main chair lifts to get you up to the main ski areas and a number of T-bars and pomas up top.
Its main feature is that when the snow is good, you get top-to-bottom skiing which is about as good as it gets in Australia. Most slopes would be described as intermediate standard but there are certainly some steep and tricky areas and an adequate amount of gentle slopes for beginners.
My favourite T-bar is Antons but if you want long runs you will probably stick to the chairs.
Threbo is also popular in summer with walkers and hikers and they run a chair lift during that time which takes you to near the top and from there it is a relatively easy walk to get to Mt. Kosciusko, Australia's highest peak, although it's not a peak in the traditional mountain sense, more of some rocks that are higher than those around it!
Drive up to Thredbo Resort and take the chairlift up to the main range. You may be able to stop for a drink at the 'Eagle's Nest Cafe' which is at the top station of the chairlift. Then follow the metal boardwalks up to the top of Mount Kosciusko. It is not a strenuous wallk but make sure you take snacks and ample water, also wet weather gear is recommended in case the weather turns bad. Finally, make sure somebody knows where you are and when you plan to return (basic safety-firsts of any walking in Australia).
This photo is of my brother Owen and I on the top of Kosci' - Australia's highest mountain at 2228 metres. As you can see we are pretty young (9 or 10), so its not a hard walk!