Snow in Australia… in Summer!! Well we did go to the Snowy Mountains
A long weekend in the Snowies and Croajingolong National Park
After our time in Tassie, we were both excited to head back into the alpine regions of Australia. Thredbo was somewhere we both wanted to go to in winter to Ski, but flight and accommodation costs always put us off. [ Plus I had a 6-week holiday ban from mid July……work really does get in the way of fun ] But like all alpine regions, there is so much fun to be had in the summer too. Thredbo is quickly becoming the mountain biking Mecca for Australia, boasting some impressive gravity trails and the ever extending TVT [Thredbo Valley Trail].
WHERE TO STAY: The Snowy Mountain region has so much to offer and deciding where to stay was difficult. We knew we wanted to Hike Mt Kosciusko (Australias highest mountain) from Charlottes Pass so we stayed in the National Park site at Islands Bend. It’s a fabulous site with a large camping areas overlooking the river and is a favourite with white water kayakers, when they release excess water from the dam. There are 30 sites with limited drop pit toilets, but once you have paid your entrance fee [ You cannot use an annual parks pass in Mt Kosciusko ] the camping is free, which is good as the entrance fee is steep. There are other National Park sites located on the TVT, which given how much time we ended up spending in the Thredbo Valley might have been a better option for us. If your plan is to mountain bike and camp, then I would definitely stay at Thredbo Diggings.
The Tourist Information/Discovery Centre and a nice cafe is located at Jindabyne, but we actually found the owner of Wildness Sports more helpful with walking information where we picked up a topographical map. Looking at the weather forecast I also decided on some 360 degree thermals too as they are a great price for a technical under layer as I was hoping I wouldn’t need to use them too much this year. Jindabyne has a huge lake which you can walk alongside and when we were there a dragon boat competition was taking place, which was cool to watch with all the local teams competing and set up along the banks of the lake as well as market stalls.
Day 1: Exploring
We explored Jindabyne outdoor shops [ They are so good] , cafes and stocked up on supplies, then had a walk alongside the lake before heading up the valley to set up the DOT and having a stroll along the river. The temperature was certainly a lot cooler from the sunny warm afternoon we had had in Jindabyne.
Day 2: MTB
We jumped in the car and drove 40 minutes to Thredbo a pictureesque alpine village, with ski chalets lining the hills and an array of cool little cafes and restaurants. We had lunch at Central Road 2625 which I would highly recommend as it was fresh, tasty and healthy. After a walk around the village we started exploring the bike options at the Valley Terminal Bike Shop. This should have been our first point of call as they told us about the TVT and the bus services available. [BUS OPTIONS: 9am from Crackenback Resort back to the start, which is booked through the Activate Centre or a 3pm pick-up from the end by the bike shop at the terminal station, which is booked in advance through them] We were keen to ride it and as its a shared track which can be ridden in both directions, we set off and rode 6km mainly downhill over amazing terrain and huge impressive bridges which span the river. We turned around shortly after the forth bridge and had the hard part of the ride back up the hill, which was a great cardiovascular challenge. At the end we both wanted to do the whole thing and so booked ourselves on the 9am pickup. That night the total fire ban has been lifted and we cooked dinner on an open fire under the stars on our snow peak fire pit.
Day 3: MTB
An early start to get to the resort and load our bikes on the trailer and get to the start of the trail. My fattie tyres on my bike proved a little interesting loading the bikes. I love my new Specialized Rhyme and the fattie tyres won me over when I did a test ride through R&D Speedshop in Claremont, Perth.
Once in the village I could see Rich was itching to do some of the gravity trails, you can do a one run taster session before upgrading to all all day lift pass, but I wasn’t sure and after doing the village run which joins onto the bottom of one of the gravity runs, that sealed it for me. The speed these riders are shooting down at in their full body armour wouldn’t allow me any luxury of a more gentle decent. From the Valley Trail we took the all-mountain temporary access trail and then joined the pipe trail, which took us to the main event the 20km TVT [Thredho Valley Trail]. Going one way the trail is 70% downhill and 30% uphill beginner/intermediate flow track. What a ride…… so much fun with a few nice switch backs, some interesting rock gardens and just beautiful scenery along the river, crossing the amazing bridges. The path is dual use in both directions and so you need to be careful, as the track gets busier I don’t think this is a great mix and although bikes give way to walkers, there were a few sections I was glad we didn’t meet anyone. Once back at the Crackenback resort there is a further network of trails which can be explored around the resort, but we opted to refuel in one of the cafes and had a well earned wood fired pizza and salad . If I wasn’t camping I would love to stay at this resort and it has the advantage of being just outside the National Park, so no fees. The TVT is currently being extended and we would love to come back and ride it all the way to Jindabyne when it opens.
Day 4: Hiking Mt Kosciusko 18km Return
When we first arrived in the area due to the weather the tourist information suggested we waited to climb Mt Kosciusko on the Monday. As it happened we ended up with lovely warm days and just cold nights. It was so cold on the 3rd night after sitting around the fire we climbed into our hiking sleeping bags and then snuggled under the duvet (dooner) and blanket. When we woke up ready to set off there was snow at 1500m line, that nobody had seen coming…Snow in Summer!!!!! This was our last day and last opportunity to climb Australia highest mountain, so after driving up to Charlotte pass through Perisher we rugged up and set off. We decided not to do as planned the ‘main track’ to the summit and stuck to the summit track both ways instead. This proved to be wise as when we walked further up the paths were covered in snow and visibility was poor. I set off in my 550 down jacket as well as my normal cold weather gear: gortex jacket, 2 long sleeve layers and HGS and I never took any of it off, well it was -7 with the wind chill factor. I was glad too of those thermals leggings I bought a few days earlier, that I had under some thick walking pants and waterproof trousers. We saw other people walking up crazily unprepared for this weather with some making make shift hats out of t-shirts and others in just a hoodie. We reached the top to be treated with whiteout conditions, however it was a stunning winter wonderland walk and we were now the highest people in Aus. On the way back down we had lunch and a flask of coffee in the day use hut then returned to the campsite through Guthega, but like Perisha it was a ghost town, all shut down for the summer.
Day 5: Pack-up and Canberra
After another cold night, we packed up and headed to the Capital to explore the parliament buildings. We stayed in a beautiful Cotter Campsite by the river which we would highly recommend as its just outside the CBD and an easy drive to explore. The view from the new Parliament House roof is amazing across the city and we had a lovely walk around lake Burley Griffin.
We rounded the day off with dinner at Blackfire, a restaurant Rich had been to before on a work trip, which does amazing steak and slow cooked meats. We sat by the fire and had the degustation menu, so much tasty meat. The weather here was beautiful and it was nice to warm up after an amazing but cold long weekend in the High Country. Now I just want to go back to Thredboe and ski there.
On our way to the Hight Country we had two nights in Croajingolong National Park for some beach time at Shipwreak Creek. It was one of Richards favourite National Park sites, which is accessible by AWD only. The beach coves are beautiful and you can walk along the coast path for miles as it’s on the Wilderness Coast Walk. We walked from Shipwreak creek to Seal Creek which is 6km return and spent time on the beach at Seal Creek. On the second night we had the entire campsite to ourselves apart from a bush mouse that ate my thongs (Flip Flops) and a few mosquitoes. There are pit toilets and fire pits on the site and you are close to Mallaccota which is a pretty town with good places to launch a kayak and more beaches. You can explore further into the National Park via access from the highway or as we did explore some of the 4×4 tracks.
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