The Australian high country holds a special place in many of our hearts. For me, it is one of my favourite places to explore. Cool alpine air, rugged landscapes and crystal clear rivers are just some of the draw cards to this part of the country. For some the biggest draw is the ambition to summit our tallest peak, Mt Kosciuszko.
Sitting at 2228m (7310ft) above sea level, Australia's highest summit is as high as many people will ever be and the experience is truly awe inspiring. Situated in the Kosciuszko National Park on the Victorian and New South Whales boarder, Mt Kosciuszko is the pinnacle of the Main Range region of the Great Dividing Range.
Now such a summit may seem totally out of reach for the everyday person. You may think you need to be a fitness nut or hiking junkie to be able to tackle is massive peak and to that I'd like to say NOT TRUE!!!
There are four paths you can take to reach the summit, each with varying skill levels required. The first one i'll tell you about is the hardest and the longest. It's the Main Range track, a 22km loop track that summits several mountain tops and has an overall ascent of 1km. Its long, its hard and it takes a decent level of fitness and physical ability. What you get for that effort is access to some of the most beautiful views you'll find anywhere.
You'll pass by the famous Blue Lake, continue up the track to Curruthers Peak and round the corner for views over Club Lake before continuing on a fairly even track and then elevated path round Lake Albina in the shadows of Mt Townsend.
After Lake Albina the track gets a little more difficult, narrow and winding for a small section before taking the next incline on your final push to the summit. As someone who suffers with asthma as well as not being in great physical shape i found this very challenging but with regular rest breaks and breaking the climb up into sections it was quite manageable.
The track on the way back down the other side of the range is much easier, an open and flat gravel road that seems to just keep going and going. Passing Seamns Hut and crossing the Snowy River before returning you to the carpark at Charlottes Pass. This descent is steady and never too steep but after the climb you've already done it seems relentlessly long however it is only about 8km from the top to the bottom.
The whole loop including stops along the way took us 6hrs 45mins, a little shy of the 7-9hrs the signs indicated.
This track down from the summit is known as the Summit Walking Track and is the second option you have in getting to the top as you can do it as a return walk. Taking the same track up and back was a very popular option particularly for those with mountain bikes and younger children.
The views on the way up and back are relatively the same throughout, overlooking the Main Range the whole way and not getting to see the beautiful lakes you get on the whole Main Range track. Many people enjoy stopping on the banks of the Snowy River or at Seamans Hut on their way up and back on this track which takes about 3 hours each way according to the National Parks signs.
The Third option is what the majority of tourists to the region choose to take which is the Kosciuszko Walk, a 13km return track that crosses the mountain ridge from Thredbo's Kosciuszko Express Chairlift. Its an easy elevated boardwalk the entire way until you reach Rawson Pass where all the walks converge near the summit and from there is a short walk on gravel path to the top.
This is a beautiful walk that stops by Kosciuszko Lookout and Lake Cootapatamba as it winds higher and higher towards the summit and can be done by all ages and fitness levels. Although keep in mind this can be an incredibly busy track! Also worth keeping in mind a return adult ticket on the chairlift will set you back roughly $40.
The fourth option is the one path that is still on my list to do list, starting in Thredbo Village you can take Dead Horse Gap Track up the mountain where it joins with the Kosciuszko Walking Track. The track is reported to have sweeping views of the Thredbo side of the ranges and takes approximately 2hrs each way from Thredbo village to the top of the chair lift where it meets with the Kosciuszko track.
Now theres a whole heap of ways everyone is able to get outdoors, climb Australia's highest summit and enjoy the incredible views of Australia's beautiful high country.