Sunday, January 15, 2012

Charlotte Pass (2)

This was our second stay at the Southern Alps Ski Club Lodge at Charlotte Pass, for a weekend of walking, eating and socialising in the company of friends. And this most beautiful part of Australia is so close, only 2 and 1/2 hours from Canberra.

Last year on our first afternoon walk from Charlotte Pass we'd had to turn back before reaching the summit of Mt Stillwell because of encroaching cloud and bad weather. This time we managed the summit walk easily, as we admired the profusion of summer alpine wildflowers and the fabulous views all around us. Mt Stillwell is 2040 metres above sea level but it's an easy climb (and only a 3.8km walk) if you approach it like we did from the end of Kosciuszko Road on the ridge above Charlotte Pass village.

Saturday we tackled a 6.4klm walk from Guthega village, over Blue Cow Creek and alongside the Snowy River to Illawong Lodge, later crossing the suspension bridge below this isolated spot to gain an up close look at some lazy trout in the Snowy River. For much of this walk we followed a narrow track along the relatively steep slope of the river valley. At Blue Cow Creek we chose to use the more modern bridge rather than the original flimsy flying fox contraption.

A wooden platform outside the old Illawong Lodge (hut) was a great spot for morning tea and a spectacular view of the valley below us.

Rob was the first one to walk across the suspension bridge. It felt like quite an adventure as it swayed a lot and felt quite flimsy as you made your way (singly) across it.

But from this angle the views of the river were just spectacular.

The walking was tricky on such a narrow, uneven and steep path. Maddy twisted her ankle on the return walk and had a difficult trip back to the car (with her Mum and Dad) and needed ice baths later back at the lodge.

Yesterday we completed another beautiful walk starting at the Perisher Valley Reservoir, to the spectacular Porcupine Rocks, overlooking both the Perisher and Thredbo River Valleys.

This was a gentle walk, only about a 5.4klms round trip, that led us through fields of button grass and groves of snow gums, now nicely regenerating after the devastating fires of 2003.

With spectacular views back to the Main Range and a clearly visible Charlotte Pass village in the distance.

J & J have done these walks before and have quite a history with this particular Porcupine Rock walk. The area has a "Picnic at Hanging Rock" quality and children have been misplaced here on earlier occasions (but safely found!).

At the spectacular Porcupine Rock escarpment Rob proved his confidence with heights to any doubters by getting this close to the fabulous view of the Thredbo River Valley and the small township of Bullock Flats in the distance.

The rest of us preferred to keep our distance while still enjoying this brilliant vantage point on Porcupine Rock.

The only small irritation in this part of the world is the humongous green eyed March fly. We proved that they much prefer denim to the synthetic material of outdoor adventure clothing. And Maxie proved they much preferred her NYDJ denim jeans to Rob's Rodd & Gunn denim jeans!!

You can see in the pictures below why this rock outcrop has been named Porcupine Rocks!

Rob was trying some "creative settings" in this shot - very suited to the way the skies darkened and the wind sprang up on our walk back to Perisher.

There was just enough time for some well made coffees at the Perisher Village outdoor cafe at the end of our walk, before the rain started.

The walking here is wonderful but so is the time with friends - great wine and food that is shared, plenty of time for talking, reading, Sudoku and Scrabble and watching the ever changing skies alter the mountain landscape outside the full length windows of the lodge. We're thinking this needs to be an annual event!

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