Home' Open Road Western NSW : OR0318 Contents ROAD TRIP
Location: 121km from Jindabyne to the Upper Murray
We leave the bright lights of Thredbo and turn onto the Alpine
Way – the 121km road that connects Jindabyne to the Murray
Valley on the NSW and Victorian border.
Within minutes, we’re driving through a forest of ghost trees,
the skeletal remains from a catastrophic bushfire that raged
through the national park back in 2003. Forty-five separate
fires burnt across the area, destroying 400 hectares, which was
almost two-thirds of the park. They also razed 24 historic
cattlemen’s huts and the flames were so fierce that most of the
eucalypt trees, commonly known as alpine ash, still haven’t
regenerated, and small saplings are only now starting to return.
The fires even reached Thredbo’s outskirts and the resort’s
snow-makers were turned on to keep the flames at bay.
This part of the Alpine Way is both bleak and beautiful. We
head over the range and begin our descent to Corryong. Here,
the alpine ashes grow tall and thick, thanks to a westerly
airstream that flows through the valleys. Motorists are warned
about the hairpin bends and steep descent; signs constantly tell
trucks to use a low gear. The roads may be closed in winter due
to the snow and, on the Corryong side, a sign warns that the
road might not be suitable for caravans.
Despite the ominous warnings, in summer the road is easily
navigable through its smooth and windy sections, with views at
every corner. It’s the type of road that makes you enjoy driving
– real driving – again, provided you take the bends carefully. It’s
certainly an improvement on peak-hour congestion back home
in Sydney. We encounter just two other vehicles on our way
down and when we open the sunroof and wind down the
windows to breathe in the fresh mountain air, we feel relaxed
and invigorated at the same time. This leisurely 90km journey
is one of the highlights of our road trip.
alpine flora and the path is lined with native billy buttons
sprouting cheery yellow flowers. Here, at the top of Australia,
the air is cool and, even in summer, snow drifts can be present
in shaded areas. In winter, the track is covered in snow and can
only be taken on with cross-country skis.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll enjoy a 360 -degree view of
the 700,000 hectare Kosciuszko National Park that makes the
effort to get here worthwhile. The park is a conservation area
that has been named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and
more than half of it has been formally declared a wilderness area.
On the way back, you might need to take a quick ‘break’ at a
bunker-style building built into the slope. At 2100 metres above
sea level, it’s actually Australia’s highest public toilet and there
are some hikers who say they only climbed Mount Kosciuszko
to boast about using its facilities.
While our trip has been in the middle of summer, it’s
important to remember that weather conditions in the alpine
region can change dramatically. Take a warm top and make
sure you wear sensible walking shoes. On the day we set off
on the summit walk, we started in T-shirts and were grateful
for our polar fleeces as the temperature plunged to just 10
degrees Celsius at the top.
ROAD CONDITIONS AND PARK FEES
Snow can block the Alpine Way in winter. It’s the law that 2WD
vehicles must carry snow chains and it’s recommended that
4WD vehicles driving in the park also carry them in the event of
extreme weather. Entry into Kosciuszko National Park costs $17
per vehicle per day, or $29 per vehicle per day in winter. Visit
nationalparks.nsw.gov.au for more information.
ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGERS
The NRMA will soon begin its rollout of a fast charging network
for electric vehicles throughout NSW and the ACT. As a high
traffic tourism destination, Jindabyne will be one of the first
towns to have an EV charger installed. The installation is part
of the NRMA’s $10 million investment in future motoring
infrastructure and means that Jindabyne will link into a
network of chargers that will enable drivers of electric vehicles
to reach the Snowy Mountains without their car’s battery
running out of charge.
We’re driving through a forest of
ghost trees – the skeletal remains
from a catastrophic bushfire
OR0318_RT_Snowy Mountains.indd 21
12/2/18 3:13 pm
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