We’re starting to settle on what our favourite things are and a prime candidate for the top ten is the nearby Snowy Mountain range which lies just a couple of hours south-west of Canberra. Last weekend we made our third trip to the area.
We’re not skiers, and we’ve never been when there’s snow in the Snowies, but even out of season, it’s a place of breath-taking beauty that feels a million miles away from the close-clustered housing of Canberra’s northern suburbs.
The Snowies are also home to Mount Kosciuszko, officially the tallest mountain in Australia, which makes it a magnet for many tourists who want to say that they’ve stood on the country’s highest point.
Kosciuszko peers down on the small resort village of Thredbo, which nestles in a valley just inside Kosciuszko National Park. You have to pay to enter the park – a day ticket costs $17 – so it’s worth planning a full day there to justify the expense.
Thankfully, Thredbo has much to offer, even outside the skiing season. A ski lift ferries a mixture of those wanting a helping hand on the journey to Mount Kosciuszko’s peak (still a several kilometre walk from where the lift ends) and muddied mountain bikers who can be seen weaving their way down the mountainside as you are hoisted above the tree line.
There’s a restaurant and a bar/bistro at the top of the ski lift to offer fortitude for the long walk or to welcome weary hikers back after their pilgrimage to the top of Australia.
Back down in the valley, a small huddle of shops and cafes works hard to give off a Swiss vibe – not altogether successfully – meanwhile, outdoor movie screenings, giant chess boards, a wheeled bobsled ride and a pretty impressive leisure centre offer plenty of options if anyone still has energy to burn or just wants to relax.
When we were there, the local leisure centre had installed a giant inflatable obstacle course in the swimming pool – similar to that seen in the TV show ‘Total Wipeout’. Mini and Max-CBRbound spent nearly four hours swimming, running, falling, splashing and then trying again so that our rear view mirror showed only snoring kids on the drive back to Jindabyne where we were staying.
Refreshed, we drove home to Canberra on ANZAC Day, when Australia remembers the fallen of various conflicts around the world. Passing through the country towns and villages of New South Wales we saw parade after parade where seemingly every resident had turned out to pay their respects and to come together as a community.
We may have stood on the top of the country that weekend, but it was the journey home that gave us the clearest view of Australia.