Kosciuszko Summit Walk
Mount Kosciuszko has always been on our bucket list to visit on our trip around Australia, as it is the highest mountain in Australia, with its summit at 2228 metres. It is located at the Southern precinct of Kosciuszko National Park.
We know this isn’t a high mountain by the World’s standard, yet, not everyday do you get to be at the highest point of a country. Considering it being on the extreme points of Australia, we have decided to hike to the top of Australia and our friends Sean and Christine are also joining us.
We have chosen to stay at a cabin at Pender Lea Chalets, which is located in Crackenback, NSW, approx 570km North East of Melbourne. It would take at least 6.5-7.5 hrs driving, depending on which route you choose.
Crackenback is approx. 11km West of Jindabyne, which is one of the major towns in the area, where you can find a supermarket, fuel, cafes & restaurants and a tourist information centre. Thredbo is located 24km West of Crackenback, where the chairlifts would take the skiers to the snow in the Winter and the hikers to challenge the summit of the highest mountain in Australia in Summer.
The chairlifts at Thredbo to Mt Kosciuszko (Kosciuszko Pass) is $35 per adult per day. It’s approximately 9-10 mins ride from bottom to the top.
On the day we went, it was a nice sunny day at the bottom of the chairlift ride, yet, a completely different story when we reached to the end of the ride. Although it was a fine day, but it was blowing wind of 50-60km/h at the mountain! Even though it was a mild 23°C, but with the wind chill factor and constant gale blowing at your face, you will feel a lot cooler. That’s why we were recommended to have layers on, so we can adjust according to the temperature change.
The walk to the summit of Kosciuszko is 13km return and expected to take 4-6hrs. We started at around 10am in the morning, which started with an easy tarmac surface. The track than changed into a well constructed metal boardwalk, which covered most of the track. There are along clear signs along the track, so there is no need to worry about getting lost along the way.
After 2km into the track, we have reached our first lookout point, the Mt Kosciuszko Lookout. This is a lookout which will give you an overview of the Mt Kosciuszko ridge line. There are quite a few people who’ve decided to stop their walk there and started heading back to the chairlifts. However, we were on a mission, and hence, has decided to continue on.
With the wind constantly blowing in your face and the body at a higher altitude, it is recommended to take it easy by having small rests every now and then, have snacks to keep the energy level up and plenty of fluid to keep the body hydrated.
After another 2km or so, we have reached another lookout point, which is the Lake Cootapatamba Lookout. This lookout is 2.4km from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, this is also known as the highest lake in Australia. It was also said to be the freshest water in Australia, due to the high altitude and low in salt content, however, it was also said to be low in nutrients. I was kind of keen to have a taste of the water, but it was quite a long diversion from the track and we were kind of against time, so I have to give up that thought.
Talking about the highest lake in Australia, how about the highest toilets in Australia?! We have arrived at Rawson Pass, which is at an elevation of 2100m and holds the highest toilet found in Australia. This is also a cross path who would take the track from Charlotte Pass, which is another chairlift access to Mount Kosciuszko. From Rawson Pass, there is another 1.67km to the summit, which is about 30-40mins away. From here on, the metal boardwalk would be replaced by dirt tracks and at some point it can be quite steep, especially when wet.
We’ve made it! We have arrived at the highest point of Australia! I know this isn’t the Himalayas, but it’s the effort that counts. It’s not everyday you get to be at the highest point of a country and feel the world beneath your feet. We were tired, but also excited and satisfied at the same time, because we have conquered another extreme point of Australia. Now it’s time for some quick lunch and then all the way back to the chairlifts before the stop operating at 4:30pm!
Boy, weren’t we glad that the walk back down was a lot quicker than the walk up to the summit. We were just able to make it before 4pm! The sun did come out in the afternoon to keep us warm, but sure enough the wind didn’t back down. The chairlift ride back down was one of the more relaxing ride we’ve had, as our legs get to rest after the 6hrs walk. It was a wonderful and satisifying experience and we would treasure it for the rest of our lives. We’ve even celebrated it with some hot chips and cold drinks!