Sandi was keen to re-do the last couple of weeks of the AAWT, as she was pretty done in when we were finishing the hike in 2015. So it was going to be a rather relaxed walk, without too much rush&helip; even so, I only had a week to put it all together (which seemed like a huge rush). And to top it off, we really didn't think about snow until that week, when we learned that there was still metres of the stuff waiting for us to walk through it
We also had not done a serious walk for about 3 years, so we were very unfit. All I could say to people who said, "Enjoy it", was that the first week would be full of pain It actually didn't end up that bad, but it did take a week to feel like I hit my stride.
We had two food drops to put in: one in Kiandra (about halfway) and another in Honeysuckle Creek (which we picked up the second day). So the day before the walk we drove down to Tumut and stayed in the pub (highly recommended for a no frills stop over), so that we could hit the ground running the following day which included installing both food drops and then starting the walk around lunch time (carrying lunch up to Cypress Pine Lookout). Didn't go entirely to plan, and we didn't get away till mid afternoon.
Very short day that was basically intended to get us onto the Track. Only 8.2km to Bushfolds flat dam, but did have a stiff-ish 500m climb out of Tharwa. We were quite surprised at how low the dam was; back in 2015 we went swimming as the day was hot. A very kind Outward Bound person gave us plenty of water that she had left over from one of their hikes.
The day started wet, which gave us a chance to put our new Aarn Water Wizards to use. We'd actually trialled the Water Wizards on our 2015 South to North for Aarn, but hadn't got around to purchasing them till this year. They are a wonderful garment, and an essential one in our kit now.
Very late start, possibly our latest ever, but well worth it, after a good sleep in cosy and comfy. Flowers really beautiful en route and green bark in the rain plus the most beautiful scent every so often.
We picked up our food drop in the camp ground without issues, after all, it was only yesterday that we put it in then headed off to Orroral River. Spent a lot of time saying things like, "I don't remember this?" or "I remember that rock!" – but we did not remember the walk down into Orroral River (which we must have walked up in 2015)… this must be some of the pain I was expecting?
We were very glad to get to camp after only 16.9km and 663m ascent and 706m descent. The relief was a little short lived, as the weather had really deteriorated and the wind was strong and cold, and once we'd lost our walking heat we were cold too.
Cold knocked me out last night. Didn't quite get enough on and had to get into sleeping bag to warm up. Ate ½ dinner in tent
The day started cool, with a wander along the river valley amongst the kangaroos; after which there's a section of road walking before the track up to Cotter Gap. Last time we had a rushed cooked lunch at Cotter Gap before we got hailed on – nothing like that this time: just carpets of beautiful flowers.
Sawpit Creek actually looked like it would have been nice to stop at this time… so we weren't sure why we didn't think it was very good last time?
The day was only 19.6km long but we were definitely feeling the 792m ascent and 563m descent. We were headed to Little Bimberi Creek, but all the beautiful little creeks we past along the way were very tempting. It turns out that Bimberi would have been a better place to stop, but we made Little Bimberi work, even if the ground was somewhat sloping.
Seemed to spend all our time putting clothes on and taking them off again. All off road walking pretty and preferable despite some stiff climbing, sun came out but wind still icy. Hovea, Wattles, Grevileas, Epacris in flower in profusion: made it spectacular — if you like flowers.
We were both looking forward to today, as we've planned to climb Bimberi, ACT's highest peak. Back in 2015 Sandi didn't have the resources to climb it at the end of a long day, so only I did – it is a real treat! But to get there we had about 400m to climb to get up to Murrays Gap, which we were not looking forward to… and then we had the 400m to get to the top of Bimberi
Bimberi Peak still had a whopping 5m2 of snow! Tiny… but exciting regardless. Cold and windy on top (10°C by my thermometer). Sandy found my entry from 2015, and some other entries by the girls who were following us on the walk North.
Bimberi Peak was just as beautiful second time around!
Bimberi really was a very pretty, not too arduous, walk; and the most gorgeous view from the top—just gorgeous. A very lovely snow gum with a little unmelted snow at the base: the pièce de résistance!
Back to Murrays Gap for lunch, then off down the hill to Oldfield's Hut – where we were got to have dinner in the comfort and protection of the hut.
Water difficult to harvest from a surprisingly small creek after the other very full ones we've been seeing. Perry dug out a good depression after finding a sandy spot and it really did the trick.
Today we'll head over the Cooleman Plain, which is always exciting because of the brumbies. One of the longer days at 27.9km, and we were feeling it by the time we got to Miller's Hut.
This is the fourth time we'd walked this plain, but today was very different to any of the others: the rain clouds seemed to circle us and threaten, but not develop into anything.
Very pretty young heavily wooded forest, then onto those wonderful plains, horses rather than kangaroos. Always thrilling watching either. Postponed morning tea until more sheltered on the far side and both collapsed. Too tired to sit, just deliciously lay in the grass.
Mosquito Creek Trail certainly felt tiresome by the time we got to Ghost Gully for the short walk along the road before the turn off to Miller's Hut. Miller's is a delightful one room hut, where we had lunch last time through
Seeing wee Millers Hut was a very great relief. Such a lovely wee hut and well looked after. Very pleasant with curtains thrown open and sunlight pouring in from the setting sun.
Sandi wanted to investigate the old fire-trail to the East of AAWT, so we set out from Miller's making for the Murrumbidgee River. There is a plethora of tracks in this area (in 2015 we'd been wandering along enjoying the countryside just following one of these, before we realised we'd wandered way off course ), so more than enough to pick from to get there. We think there may have been a re-alignment of the track heading down to Murrumbidgee River, as the signed track follows a small tributary and not the spur … much nicer along the creek
We crossed Murrumbidgee River then Tantangara Creek without incident, having morning tea on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, then proceeded on a tortuous hike through a stiff wind along Bullock's Hill Trail to Whitze's Hut. It was a cold and windy day, not making it over 14°C, and so we pushed on to the hut for a late lunch and an early finish.
Whitze's is a large one room hut, with huge gaps between the slabs and floor boards, which means the wind whistles through like they're not there! We lit the fire but really needed to be sitting in it to get any benefit. It was a million times better than being outside in the unmitigated wind though… and we were very happy drinking cups of tea and doing the crosswords Sandi had brought along.
How did we get halfway through so quickly? A little depressing, so we tried not to think about it… Today we walk through Kiandra and pick up our food drop.
I was a little shocked at how long it took to get to Chance Creek… this was to be last night's camp site Anyway: it made a great morning tea stop, where we filled up our water as well. It took a bit to get across the Eucambene, and we ended wandering down stream a way searching for an easy cross, but never found one, so had a deep wade.
Had a very lovely walk across the plains to Chance Creek for a delightful morning tea on the creek bank. Sunny but tucked out of the wind. Sun screen appeared! Seemed a long way to Kiandra,a nd then had to do a full boots off to cross the Eucumbine! Kiandra windy (it's always windy) and no toilet paper in the toilets, but enjoyed doing the historic walk and seeing daffodils up and flowering in the ruins.
The historic walk at Kiandra is always good fun (and sad too in many ways), then it was up to get our food drop, which had not moved I'd been enjoying walking with a much lighter pack, but all that was about to change — Somehow I was going to have to stuff the contents of two 25 litre buckets and 10.8kg into my pack. Must have been getting up to around 26kg (not the heaviest I've carried, but climbing out of Kiandra was certainly interesting.
We eventually wandered over the hill to Four Mile Hut, and was very pleased to unburden ourselves. Four Mile Hut must be one of the cutest little huts down here… tiny, with only just enough room for the two of us to stretch out on the floor.
At this point, we'd significantly deviated from our itinerary as Sandi really needed it to be loose — the walk driving the itinerary rather than the itinerary driving the walk. Anyway, we were about a ½ day behind, and today's actual destination (Happy's Hut) was going to be too early… so we were going to have to wing it (and have fun ).
Slept really well once aches and pains and muscle spasms sorted! Very cosy in Four Mile Hut and we set out in good spirits, P with very heavy pack and headed with good speed to base of Tabletop Mountain for morning tea.
So we headed out not knowing exactly where we'd end up, but all day we saw Jagungal getting closer. Last time through, we'd planned to climb Jagungal after tramping through the Jagungal Wilderness from Mawson Hut, but didn't as the day from Mawson's was wet and hailing and by the time we got to Jagungal Saddle we were walking through cloud and ready to dry off at O'Keefe's. We hoped we'd climb it this time, and judging by the fine weather, it should be a nice climb.
We got to the turn off down to Happy's Hut at about 2:30, so stopped for a quick lunch, then headed off again. Turning on to Grey Mare Trail about 5:00pm, we were heading for a late finish. We ended up stopping at McKeahnies Creek where we set camp next to the creek on only slightly boggy ground. Setting camp and dinner was a little rushed before sunset, but after a 25 kilometre long day we were happy to collapse into our warm beds as dark clouds rolled in.
The day dawned cloudy, and stayed that way for most of the day with intermittent periods of drizzle. All the creeks seemed to need wading, which we hadn't really thought about previously. We stopped at Mackays Hut for a late morning tea. After lunch crossed Doubtful Creek, which was deep and fast, then over the hill to Bogong Creek, which was equally difficult to cross.
Two creek crossings too swift and deep and wide to manage in our boots, so the laborious off boots, on sandals and over to reverse the process. Each time our feet so happy, fresh and dry again in our boots. Raining off and on all day from waking and as we finished breakfast the first drizzle came and all day with some gaps: so Aarn Water Wizards in situe [on the pack], zips and velcro employed as conditions demanded, but really a very comfortable day.
Finally got to O'Keefe's for a very late lunch, but also a warm fire and hot soup to warm the bones after a cold, wet day.
O'Keefe's Hut a great delight and with everything damp and us really tired and it still raining on and off, we called a hult for lunch and to re-evaluate and look at options. Had an embellished lunch, lit a fire inside and Perry worked out draughts as still got smoky inside with everything closed up.
O'Keefe's is one of the classic Kosciusko Huts, with period news papers still visible and protected on the walls. The fire draws dreadfully though, and the doors need to be opened in just the right amounts to stop the hut filling with smoke. We had a very enjoyable afternoon, night and sleep and managed to dry our clothes! Climbing Jagungal wasn't looking promising unless there was a major weather change over night.
No weather miracles over night, so the plan was changed from walking through to Mawson's Hut, to continuing along Grey Mare to Valentine's Hut… which was quite neat in itself, as it was new ground
Walking past Jagungal was slightly depressing tho' … not that you'd know Jagungal was there.
After the creek crossings yesterday we were a little cautious of what may be coming up today. The first cab off the rank was Tumut River, which sounded big, but turned out to be tiny (being so close to the source). But there were 8 crossing to come, most of which necessitated shedding the boots for river sandals, and then the reverse on the other side. The continual stopping made the 21.5 km day into a very long day… and quite tiring.
I don't think we were expecting this day to be so hard. Eight creek/river crossings added a lot of time with boots off and on again. Some rocks were very slippery. No rain today—which made the crossings much easier.
We didn't have the intestinal fortitude to climb up to Grey Mare Hut after crossing Back Flat Creek, so sat on the side of the track and had a very late morning tea. After turning onto Valentine's Trail there were a multitude of creek crossings, including Back Flat Creek (again) and the Geehi and Valentine Rivers; the rivers being particularly full, cold and fast flowing. We also walked on snow for the first time this hike.
After crossing Valentine's River, it's a short climb up the hill to a very well deserved little hut, including a brilliant pot belly stove that warmed the hut wonderfully. Another warm pre-dinner snack, and a very relaxed night in the warm.
That was so much fun: just skipped stones with Perry [on the Valentine River], who is an awesome stone skipper… and my ones were OK too!!
We weren't exactly sure what we were doing today: climbing up Dicky Cooper Bogong as planned, from either Orange Hut or Shlink's Hut, or heading over the Rolling Ground from White's River Hut (the normal way). After looking at The Rolling Ground, we decided to head up from Shlink's Hut after morning tea.
The walk up was relatively easy, but the view from the top was spectacular… except you could see Jagungal in the distance without a cloud! Not long into the Rolling Ground we found some real snow, and we put our snow shoes on for the first time, and headed off: too much fun!
I did struggle to keep up with a somewhat excited Mowbray, especially heading from Schlink's up onto the Rolling Ground. Once hitting the snow it was easier in some ways, and a great joy. Just amazing to be out here with not a soul in sight…
We followed snow drift after snow drift, stopping for lunch on a rock surrounded by snow, then headed off again. By the time we came to the end of the snow, we had to plot a 4km cross country hike to get back on track again and find our camping spot for the night – Consett Stephen Pass.
Consett Stephen can, apparently, be difficult to locate in bad weather and is a somewhat exposed campsite… but our weather was gorgeous so we had no hesitation in stopping on the middle of the saddle. Although, it felt like we were camped on a post card. We had a direct view South to Guthega, it was odd to see the way we'd walked back in 2015 up to Kosciuszko via Twynam Saddle: it seemed so foreign and new back then, and so familiar now.
Found a great wee tent site within view of Guthega on the saddle next to the biggest slippery dip down into the pondage!
What a glorious end to a glorious day: we didn't think you could get much better than this!
Day 12 started with hail on our tent before we'd gotten up, but it cleared quickly and we were greeted with thick, quickly passing clouds. The first task was to climb up past Mt Tate, the actual 'track' was buried deep in the snow.
After rounding Mt Tate we were absolutely shredded by vicious horizontal hail. Thankfully, coming down the spur we looked out North at the obviously falling rain and wondered if it'd pass us or not. We decided to put the non-waterproof stuff safely away, and had only just finished when we literally had to run for cover behind some boulders for protection. We knelt there for maybe 15 minutes until the storm passed, then got up and brushed the hail off and got on our way again.
Boy, oh boy… we watched it coming and it seemed to be about 100mph and was dark and precipitating something!
We only made it to Mann Bluff when the cloud descended so that we couldn't see anything. With snow in front of us and behind us, heavy rain falling and not being able to see 10 metres… we decided to wait until this cleared as well. So we sat in the rain and waited behind the meagre protection of Mann Bluff…
Eventually Sandi got cold, so I put up the fly and we crawled under and had morning tea. It's amazing what a thin bit of nylon can do to warm you and revive your spirits. Another couple of hours later and Sandi was cold again, so I put up the tent under the fly, and we got inside and had lunch. We did crosswords and and ate beef jerky, but eventually we were cold again, and as it was too late to go anywhere even if it did clear, I set camp properly (the wind really was very strong, flattening the tent at times) and we got into our sleeping bags. Come dinner time we headed out during a dry patch and collected snow.
I'm pretty sure the wind howled all night, and sleep wasn't great in the makeshift site we'd stopped in… but we were warm and dry and made plans for a escape route to Guthega if the weather didn't clear.
First thing on waking was to poke our head out to check the weather. First problem: fly was frozen — inside and out. So I checked what the temperature had got down to: -4°!! Crazy – but not a cloud this morning: so we pulled our sleeping gear out and aired it in the sun and had breakfast… looking forward to some more great snow shoeing. It really did feel odd having cold rainy days sandwiched between hot sunny ones, but it looked like today would stay fine for a considerable portion of the day.
Our Itinerary was pretty shot at this stage, but we hoped that we'd make Wilinson's Creek tonight. So we headed out over Mount Anderson, Mount Anton and up toward Mount Twynam… it really was awesome fun snow shoeing across the mountains.
Testing snow shoe up to Twynam, then snow shoes off for a while on Twynam's Western slopes. Show shoe up Carruther's Peak, then walk around the narrow track around Mt Lee.
I thought that once we'd got to the Main Range that the going would be pretty straight forward… well it was for most of it, but we did come to a snow drift that had covered the track at Nothcote Pass, which was at such a steep slop we had to carefully crawl down toward Albina Lake until we could walk around it. Looking up we saw someone's walking pole in the middle of the slope, and made us wonder what had occurred?
After getting back on track again, it's a very short walk to Mueller's Pass and then down to Wilkinson's Creek – which really was beautiful in its winter cloak. It was amazing, after the last couple of days, to be able to sit in camp at the end of the day, in warm sunshine and have dinner.
A splendid day, though my energy did fail me on several occasions and I struggle to keep up with Perry. Generally loved the freedom of negotiating own track that the snow shoes gave.
We were treated to an amazing light show at sunset, which really was remarkable.
Our original plan was to snow shoe over the Rams Heads and camp down toward Dead Horse Gap, but Sandi had decided that enough beauty was enough and wanted to walk off the track today. So we had one last snow shoe, up to Rawson Pass bypassing Mt Kosciuszko.
Wilkinson's Creek just finished me. My beauty tolerance suddenly overloaded at the transendental extraordinariness of the blue stream through whilte snow at sunset. Just too much to contain, and in it and through it, the love of God. Frozen Blue Lake, Albina Lake neat, but was captivated by Club Lake: Wow! The colour, that eerie blue/green/white.
We had hoped to find the highest toilets in Australia open, but they were still closed for the Winter. So we headed down the steal walkway toward the chair lift. It's hard to believe two weeks can go so quickly, but we almost skipped our way down toward a hot cup of coffee at Eagle's Nest…
Except it was closed … and the chair lift. Thankfully the other lift was working, so a short walk down the hill and we were on our way down, passing raging torrents and day walkers on the way up. Walking off the track a day early meant that we got to have a day of fun in Thredbo exploring.
Down in Thredbo we found the whole village was basically closed, about the only thing open was the Hotel and establishments owned by the Hotel. They had a special on for Bed and Breakfast, which we were very happy to accept, and headed to our room to wash two weeks of Alpine mud off before heading down to the pub for a relaxing ale.
So, that was our revisit of the last stage of the AAWT.
Created by • Last edit by on Nov 27 2018