Monday, 28 April 2008

Across the Snowy's

I'm writing this from the comfort of Paul's parents house in Angler's Reach near Lake Eucumbene at 7am on Monday 28th April.  It's about 2 degrees outside and there is a good blanket of snow on the ground so am glad I am inside and in a real bed for the first time in 8 days!

Working back to when Paul and Emily arrived at Police Paddocks; we left there on Friday and reached Nariel Creek (via Wodonga for supplies) for an overnight camp beneath some tall poplars in full autumn colour.  Camping beside the creek was extremely cold even with our huge fire, probably the coldest night camping we've ever done in fact - I am not sure but the temperature was probably only 3 or 4 degrees overnight.


Hopefully we have reached the end to a chapter now, that is our resident mouse appears to have relocated from the boot back to his native countryside.  After finding a pack of noodles attacked and us setting two traps baited with peanut butter, there has been no sign of him/her or his poop....

So in the morning we set off to Corryong, a pretty mountain town and home of Jack Riley - the Man from Snowy River - for a map and some supplies and then began our 4WD trek into the Snowy Mountains.  We were following a suggested trek itinerary published on a 4WD website.  After 30kms of tarmac the road turned into steep, winding gravel track which slowed our pace down to about 10-15kms per hour and mostly 2nd gear.  The track is usually used by logging trucks, but we didn't encounter any thankfully as it was pretty narrow in places!

Our first stop on the trek was at an old stockman's hut called Wheelers Hut.  The huts in the Snowy's were built by the early settler's (some have been destroyed by bush fires and subsequently rebuilt) and are still used today for emergency shelters.  They usually contain a few bunk beds and a fireplace with kindling and firewood always left by the last person.


Continuing up the track into the mountains we entered an area called Mount Gibbo Scenic Reserve.  The whole of the Snowy's are covered in Snow Gum trees, a few of which still show the burn marks of serious bush fires from 2007 and 2003.  The climb to the top of Mount Gibbo (1750m) was some serious 4WDing with steep inclines up rock faces with loose, sharp rocks aplenty to test the tyres! 


We made it to the top with only a few slips and slides.  It was an exhilirating ride!!!  And a great view from the top:


The descent was obviously steep too, but low gears and a steady pace helped us down.

Unfortunately at this stage I realised my rear left airbag (for the suspension) had not pumped up, so Paul and I had to whip the wheel off and do some diagnosis to find that a slow puncture (which had been there for some months - I just hadn't realised/noticed) was present and as we had been driving so slowly 4wding, the compressor had not kicked in to pump it up again.  After a cold hour in the mud and hail we decided we should get to a campsite before dark so limped down off Mount Anderson to Dogmans Hut campsite.  At this stage the airbag was alright again, but I'll have to order a spare part and replace it before we go anywhere more remote. 

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When we arrived at Dogmans Hut there were a few local Aussie's camped there already and one old chap had a Land Rover Defender, he came over and commented on how good the Land Rover's were, which we all laughed at as we had just had this incident with the airbag!  Anyway he runs a business from home supplying spare parts to the locals who own LR's in the area and gave me his stubby holder so I have his number to give him a call to get my new airbag.  A funny coincidence when you consider how in the middle of nowhere we were.....

The camp at Dogmans Hut was a superb evening under the stars with loads of thick snow gum logs on the fire, a tasty curry cooked on the fire, and a few beers had. 

In the morning we left the Snowy's via our first river crossing - in this case the Murray River which will be considerably colder than any up North!  Paul did the depth test in his shorts!  We both crossed no problem and the water was probably just up to the top of the tyres at its deepest:


As we continued out of the mountain range we saw many grey kangaroos in the rain and had a snow storm on the roads which was a fitting end to an awesome trek across the mountains.


Heading on then to Anglers Reach via Thredbo and Jindabyne which was about a 2 hour drive on tarmac.  We'll come back to Thredbo later in the week to do the walk to the top of Mount Kosciuosko (Australia's highest mountain - see the itinerary to the left).

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