Thredbo: On the Top of Australia

food, hikes, holidays, national parks, restaurants 4 Replies

The drive from Beechworth to Thredbo was scheduled to take around five hours; however the nice lady at the tourism bureau, along with peddling stuffed Ned Kellys, was also kind enough to tell us about an alternative scenic route that would take about an hour longer, but reward us with much better views. She scrawled some hieroglyphic directions on a sheet of paper and wished us well.

Because we weren’t in much of a hurry, and rather figured that the whole point of the trip was to see lovely Australian scenery, the four of us agreed on the heiroglyph route.

As is often the case, the “long route,” was full of wrong  turns, missteps, scoldings from the GPS, and flocks of locusts. 

Maybe the locusts aren’t that common, but had we taken the short route, would we really now be able to say, “oh, yes of course, I’ve driven through a swarm of angry locusts …”? I think not.

Following the locusts, more GPS scoldings (does she really have to be so judgmental when she says, “when possible, make a U-turn.”?), we reached a lake, a bridge that crossed us from Victoria into New South Wales, and then a several miles long stretch of dirt road that ran next to the lake. It was at this dirt road that I think we truly lost our Rosetta Stone, and went off “the long route, but whatever route it was that we took was certainly beautiful. Partner-in-Crime probably did not love driving on the dirt road, but the rest of us just ooh-ed and awed over the blue-skied-rolling-hilled vast expanse that one sees only in movies and Montana … and here.


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The rest of the drive was marked by a lot of open space, mounting hunger, and a few failed attempts at finding any place open for lunch on Boxing Day. A few hours later, we reached the mountains, and began a hair-pinned ascent that lasted about an hour and a half. I wished I’d taken some photos because it was gorgeous Alpine country (“Man From Snowy River” country – literally), but by this point my giddy inner tourist had been overtaken by a growling, cranky hunger monster who did not enjoy the outdoors, did not participate in polite conversation, and did not take pictures.
 
At last, we found our hotel and checked in. I let Partner-in-Crime do all the talking for us, lest I should harm anyone. We asked where we could get dinner, and our hotelier suggested, quelle suprise, that perhaps we try the hotel restaurant. So, we walked downstairs … I, hardly controlling my snarling and biting impulse. We asked to be seated, whereupon we were informed that there was a large party waiting to be fed, so there would be no food service for the next half hour. The frightened teenage waiter suggested we wait and have a drink, but unfortunately, I had to chomp his head off politely suggest that we go elsewhere.

Minutes later, The Monster and party were dining on pizza, and further potential mayhem was averted. 

I could now enjoy Thredbo. And, Thredbo could enjoy me.

The next day, we all met up for breakfast, before parting ways for most of the day. Mimi had a day of pampering ahead at the hotel spa, and P-i-C and I were finally ready to get our hike on. I’m sure that Mimi will tell you all about Joe’s grand adventures. 

We had come to the place for hiking, as Thredbo is in the shadows of Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest point in Australia.

Now, you should know that there is some controversy over the pronunciation …

Americans say ka-shoo-szko
Australians say ka-zee-os-ko

Who is to say which is right (oh, Wikipedia is, if you really want to know). Tomato/tomahto … let’s call the whole thing off.

Regardless of the pronunciation… 7,300 feet, is not that high in comparison to some other hikes P-i-C and I did in Yellowstone and Glacier, but I’d say it’s always impressive to go to the highest point of any continent. And, I mean, it’s not exactly Kansas, either. One of P-i-C’s Aussie friends had told him, “even your grandmother can do it! It’s just a hill!”

“Just a hill’ is my kind of a hike.

The first part of the hike is a cheat because you take the ski lift up to a mid-point on the mountain. Neither of us had ever been on a ski lift before, so there was a bit of nervous-making about this adventure. P-i-C dealt with his fear through a long monologue about …??? … who can say, really.  I, on the other hand, kept mentally calculating the distance to the ground and saying, “well, Spiderman fell further than that, and he lived …”. Thankfully, we didn’t hear about the Maine ski lift accident until two days later.


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From the top of the ski lift begins the hike. It’s 13km round trip (about 8 miles), which took us about four hours to walk. The toughest part was the first 2k stretch, which goes from the ski lift to the first lookout (a stopping point for those who don’t want to go the whole way).


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The rest of the hike was a lot longer, but easier to walk. Not long after the first lookout, there’s a second lookout, which afforded my favorite view of the hike because it was such a surprise … suddenly, there was a lake in front of me!


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As we got higher, it started getting colder and colder, and we realized that, although we’d worn winter clothes, we really weren’t dressed as warmly as we should be. I was happy to have a hooded sweatshirt, at least, because the wind was crazy.

It was cold enough that there were still a lot of patches of snow. It was fun to see several Australian kids encountering snow for the first time, especially because it reminded me so much of my first time seeing snow. I was born in Arizona, so we certainly didn’t have any there. On a trip to Montana when I was about five, my parents took us into the mountains where there were a lot of snowy patches, like these, scattered about. It was July, so summer snow, just as it was here. There are photos of little me running around in shorts and tank tops in the snow. I know just how those kids we passed felt … amazed and beguiled!


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White Christmas, after all!
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Once we were close to the top, we realized that we’d actually entered a cloud. I had never seen anything as dramatic as the cloud formation moving all around me. 


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It was at this point that P-i-C and I agreed that this may have not been the highest or longest hike we’d ever done, but it was the most visually rewarding.


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We got to the top (woohoo!), and after snapping some photos, P-i-C suggested that I should “check in” on Four Square. I thought that was a hilarious idea, even funnier when I actually had service on the top of Australia, and most hilarious when I saw that “Mt. Kosciuszko Summt” was actually a check-in point. Furthermore, no one had ever checked in there before. So, yeah, that would pretty much make me the Mayor of the top of Mt. Kosciuszko. And – no, no, it’s OK, I’ve already done the math … 

…that basically makes me the Mayor of Australia.

It’s cool. I’m still accepting comments here.

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Once we were back down the mountain, we reconvened with Mimi and Joe, we came to an impromptu agreement that we’d extend our stay in Thredbo an extra day because, as Mimi wisely suggested, it did not sound like a lot of fun to get right back into the car. 

I’m so glad that we did because P-i-C and I had the most relaxing day. We took naps, we had a picnic on the bank of the river, …

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… we strolled around town, I found a yoga class to take to work out my Kosciuszko kinks.

There was a lot of Monopoly playing amongst the four of us, but I won’t say any more about that because there are still some bitter feelings for everyone involved who is not Partner-in-Crime.

The four of us finished the day finally eating in the hotel bar, and I was so glad that I had not devoured the staff. It was the most beautiful meal that lingered on for several hours. The food was incredible … from the Sicilian olives to the rocket (arugula) salad to the canneloni garnished with truffles to the creme brulee. 

Mmmm. Mmmmmmmm. MmmMmmMmmm. It was one of the top five meals of my life.

If you’re ever in Thredbo, go eat at the Denman Hotel. Thank me later.

At the end of the meal, we all crawled into bed – fat ‘n’ happy and so well rested … A beautiful end to the strangest, loveliest Christmas holiday ever – 

-if the Mayor of Australia does say so, herself. 

4 thoughts on “Thredbo: On the Top of Australia

  1. C. In Oz

    Catherine – Um, yeah … I’ll be a famous playwright for a day, if you want to come hang out here. No charge on the babysitting, either. 🙂

    Pam – Thanks, we did have a really good time!

    Mimi – Mmmm, olives … want to go back and get a couple more orders?

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