Monday, January 20, 2014


We made a few changes to our annual January trek to the mountains this year. We based ourselves at Christiana Lodge in groovy Thredbo Village instead of the quiet and more rustic environs of Charlotte Pass; and this year the usual crew was joined by Fiona and James and young W.

We started our long weekend on Saturday with a hearty lunch (in very hot conditions) at Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery halfway between Jindabyne and Thredbo on the Alpine Way, which meant it was very late in the day when we could find the energy to start our first bush walking trek.

We took it very easy, only tackling the relaxed and easy 4klm Riverside - Golf Course Walk for our first adventure.

I took our first group picture on the edge of one of the greens of the highest golf course in Australia.

Despite all the celebratory drinks associated with our first night together at Christiana Lodge we were all happy to get going on Sunday morning - ready to tackle the 15klm Mt Kosciuszko walk, approaching it from the Thredbo River side for the first time (for me anyway).

The chairlift ride at the start, taking us to 1930m altitude was a huge thrill.

This track is the most popular approach to the mountain summit, used by thousands of walkers every summer. We found it relatively easy going but probably not quite as interesting as the walk from the Charlotte Pass side.

About an hour or so into the walk we came upon Lake Cootapatamba, one of a string of  glacial lakes dotting this alpine landscape (and some isolated patches of hard crusted remnant snow on the sides of the mountains).

Another three quarters of an hour or so, and a bit of a steady climb, and we'd reached the summit, the highest point in Australia (over 2110m);  and time for lunch (and an ongoing battle with the enormous Mt Kosciuszko flies).

The return trek was pretty easy walking on the steel mesh track, with touches of drama caused by a (very close) brown snake sighting (by Maxie) and the proximity of hundreds of what Rod later identified as ravens (not crows) swooping the sky and colonising the granite boulder outcrops along the walking path.

Despite the relaxed walking we felt tired and steamy by the time we were back at Eagles Nest Restaurant at the top of the chairlift above Thredbo Village. I asked Rob to order me a small refreshing beer. This is what he came back with (see below)!!  He enjoyed drinking all of his and half of mine (which is probably what he had in mind when he made the order).

By the time we descended the mountain the Thredbo Blues Festival afternoon program was in full swing - adding a pretty magical musical dimension to our chair lift experience (must be something to do with the natural acoustics of the valley setting).

James and Fiona cooked a wonderful dinner that night. We loved their added refinements of the tablecloth and candles (we'll insist on that tradition continuing at all future weekends in the mountains).

On Monday we tackled the 14klm Thredbo Valley Trail Walk. This walk heads eastward down the Thredbo Valley across three magnificent suspension bridges to the old Rangers Station on the Alpine Way. It's possible to get lovely views of the picturesque Thredbo River along this walk but you really only get close to it when crossing the bridges.

We all got very excited on the walk back when Fiona spotted a black snake on the track in front of her. A few of us watched it disappear fairly quickly under a bush beside the track but none of us wanted to get close enough to check whether it had a red belly or not (we suspect it was a red belly black snake).

The Thredbo Valley Trail is set to be completed in 2015 and will eventually take hikers and bikers all the way to Lake Crackenback 15klm away - that's a 30klm return walk - a cracker of a walk.

The long walks made us feel pretty righteous about idling the late afternoons away, drinking G&Ts (with lime and pomegranate seeds), eating too much cheese followed by wonderful meals and fine wine and playing many rounds of 500 and debating the rules of Scrabble, in lovely company. There is no better fun!!

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