A few years ago, Natalie and I went away on a self-imposed writing retreat. We wanted somewhere fairly remote, somewhere we’d not been before and *gasp* somewhere without an internet connection. (We were there to write, not play on our devices!)
Fast forward to our current 10-month road trip and Rich and I found ourselves with similar requirements for part of April (2017).
I knew I wanted to take Rich back to the Snowy since Nat and I had a great time. Rich has lived in Australia for four years, but he had never been to Australia’s Snowy Mountains.
It was time to amend that.
Staying in Kosi Holiday Park, right inside the entrance of Kosciuszko National Park on the Perisher side, was perfect. The cabins are nestled into a deep part of the bush, surrounded by a variety of eucalypts and wildlife. The cabins are basic, but the location provides easy access to the mountains nearby. I can’t imagine how full this place would be during Winter when ski season is in high gear.
We took a day and headed to Charlotte’s Pass, about 30km west of the campground at the end of the road.
Here, there’s a magnificent boardwalk that gives you commanding views of the mountains as you admire the brilliant colours of the snow gums along the path. You can see Kosciuszko from the lookout. If you’re up for it, you can hike to the peak of Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia. It requires at least a two-day hike with camping overnight in the alpine mountains. It’s not for everyone, of course. You can walk to the peak of Kosciuszko from the Thredbo side, which is available to most, if you get an early start.
At the top of the lookout, I said to Rich: “There’s the river. I want to take you down there.”
He thought it a trickle of a creek – it looked like it from where we stood.
We headed down. And down. And down. (Our iPhone “activity” app told us it was 47 floors).
As we neared, we were greeted by a full river with cascading water rushing over granite. Rocks provide the walkway across the river, leading up the other side of the valley where another peak awaits. We decided to give our achy knees a rest so we walked along the river towards a free-standing chimney off in the distance.
There was no signage, which gave way to our imaginations of who may have once lived in this remote, winter-bound cabin that once stood many years ago? What would their life have been like at this elevation? How would they have eaten? Could this have been a summer house for them?
Our imaginations flew as we gazed out at the magnificent surroundings. The russet tundra seemed to go on forever between the massive hills. The allure of isolating oneself in these surroundings is completely relatable . Even as we stood there, there were no other people around. There was only us and the sounds of water flowing nearby, birds scouring the fields, and the sounds of the wind, weaving through the valley.
Our bellies rumbled and we regretted not bringing our picnic lunch with us. It meant we would have to climb back up to the pass (those 47 floors) for lunch. So up we went.
Our breathing laboured, but even the super-fit twenty-somethings, who were right behind us when we started, beat us only by a little to the top. (This forty-something felt good about that despite how much my legs were screaming!)
It was worth the hike.
The next day, we drove an hour to the Thredbo side, paid the $35/adult (at time of publication) and rode the Thredbo Lift to the top of the mountain.
We were really late getting going in the morning so we missed the opportunity to hike to the peak of Kosciuszko—it’s only a few kilometres, but we didn’t want to risk missing the lift back down since it closes at 4pm.
This time, we remembered to pack some food. So, with picnic in hand, we walked to the Kosciuszko Lookout.
What a view.
As we munched on sandwiches and apples, we talked about what life would have been like up here, back in the day. Visions of ‘The Man from Snowy River’ came to my mind. It was peaceful. Quiet. From our quiet patch of rock, we looked up at the peak of Kosciuszko looming large in the distance. We watched the clouds roll in, capturing the peaks of other far off mountains.
I expected snow to be at this elevation in April, or at least cutting winds, but Rich and I found ourselves shedding layers as we walked. We finished our walk in t-shirts. They say to expect four seasons on Kosciuszko… in my two visits, I’ve experienced them all.
Before descending, Rich decided to scare the crap out of me once more. He was standing on a huge boulder overlooking the Thredbo valley. To me, he looked like he was on the edge, just about to go over.
I must explain. I’m scared of heights. My fear of heights somehow gets projected towards other people—particularly those I care about, but sometimes my mothering instinct lends itself to strangers as well. It’s complicated. Of course, it doesn’t help when you have a boy-at-heart along with you who loves to ignore all manner of safety and forego the guard rail or rock the ski lift or jump up on boulders from which he can plunge hundreds of meters to his death. He kills me sometimes. But I did get a great picture for him, before I had to turn away from fear of him falling.
Before we left this high peak, we enjoyed a coffee in the highest restaurant in Australia and of course, had to use the highest toilet in Australia (yes, they lay claim to both titles). Then, we descended on the lift, Rich deciding it was funny to rock it slightly and stopped when my face went white.
After finding much of Thredbo still closed for the season, we returned to our car, stopping in Jindabyne on the way to get a WiFi hit and restock our supplies (I needed wine after the day’s jaunt!).
There is no internet in much of the Snowy Mountains so you get it while you can. You can find mobile service around most of the resorts, but free WiFi is scarce. We found it only in one place at a coffee shop called CBD in Jindabyne. You can bet we used the hell out of it while we sipped their outstanding coffee.
While Jindabyne has its highlights (the lake, the coffee shops…), it’s a great place to connect and restock while staying in the National Park. Since this post is about Kosciusko National Park, we’ll leave Jindabyne for other bloggers to write about, who’ve actually stayed there.
Heading back to Kosi Holiday Park, we detoured to the Thredbo River again, this time at a picnic spot alongside the road. There were some fisherman trying to their luck and a family gathering, enjoying the fading sunshine. For me, this was prime time for the camera.
The light is incredible in Australia. When you have still waters, the reflections can’t be beat. We must have spent an hour at the park while my camera and I spent quality play time together.
The Benefits of Staying a Cabin At Kosciusko National Park
The lure of staying in a cabin the Snowy Mountains is not just in the beauty of the mountains and the peacefulness of the bush. It’s also the opportunity to get off the grid for a few days.
You can spend quality time doing whatever your heart desires. For me it’s reading, writing and photographing. This area brings all that out for me. For Rich, it’s hiking until his feet are falling off.
Five days is never enough, but eventually you do crave civilization – and of course, that damn internet connection.