Climbing Australia's highest peak

Trip Start Dec 18, 2006
Trip End May 04, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, April 19, 2007

The drive to Canberra was adventurous and beautiful. Adventureous as we basically drove into a little town called Braidwood with the last drop of gas (I just underestimated the amount of fuel the old camper needed). The warning light came on some 40km before Braidwood but we made it - I was never so happy to see a rural gas station with a hefty price tag on fuel. Refuelled and releived, we headed towards Canberra passing beautiful small towns. Autumn had begun and turned the leaves into a colorful bonanza making the atmosphere rather solemn: overcast, a bit gloomy and cold but such colorful trees as a contrast. We stopped in Bungendore for a coffee in a snug little coffeeshop before descending on Canberra.

Our first and only stop was Parliament Hill where we joined a tour for university students. It was great fun, entertaining and highly informative. We had lunch at the parliament restaurant before searching for downtown. Since that was nowhere to be found (there is indeed not much to be done in Canberra), we headed to Cooma en route to Mt Kosizusko National Park.

By 5pm, we arrived at our campsite inside the National Park and had a modest dinner. It was cold if not to say very cold which is not surprising considering the altitude of more than 1500m (and the season being autumn). After dinner, we searched for Wombats and "stumbled" upon one just outside our campervan. Noble was just happy and excited as Wombats are her favorite animal (Haslam, that explains our Action Asia Adventure Team name "Killer Wombats"). We followed and probably annoyed the cute creature for a while. After it got too cold and dark, we headed back to the camper.

Being at 1500+m, the temperature dropped to almost freezing point during the night. The upside of it was that we were able to use our thermal underwear which we had acquired in one of our shopping frenzies at "Kathmandu". Originally purchased at unbeatable prices for the next skiing season, they became our most valuable asset for the cold nights in our campervan (as usual, everything happens for a reason - even buying thermal underwear in summer in New Zealand). The night was still tough and rough due to the coldness which was especially tough during "nature's call" in the middle of the night. Hence, the night was short and as soon as the sun made itself known, we were up making tea!

Following a healthy brekkie, we drove to Charlotte's Pass for our hike. We started out completely "overdressed" and within 30 minutes of walking we "stripped" (i.e. got rid of some layers of clothes). Under the blazing sun, we followed the "Main Ranges Track" via the Blue and Club Lake and an area with special significance to me: Little Austria. It was a bit hazy as the park conducted some controlled fires but still the scenery of the mountain ranges was just magnificent. The 13km track to the summit of Mt K. (Aussie's highest mountaun) were stunning yet an easy walk especially the last ascent to the summit itself. Most people scale the 2228m summit via Thredbo on the other side taking advantage of the chairlift so the top of the mountain was rather busy.

The 9km back to Charlotte's Pass took us via Snowy River with its crystal-clear waters and stunning views of the valley leading up to Mount K. Happily we left this part of the National Park and planned to spend another night in Thredbo - that's when we remembered how cold the previous night was (it's just funny how short-lived and selective one's memory is). Ultimately, we decided to spend the night at a campground at Lake Jindabyne with shower and cooking facilities as well as a lower altitude, i.e. a warmer night). It turned out to be a great decision as we spent a relaxing and refreshing night in our "Jesus Fish".
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