This 50km off-track hiking route through the Kerries Range in Kosciuszko National Park passes by a bunch of cute and cosy backcountry huts and offers up epic stargazing each night.
- Stay at historic mountain huts
- Hike some of Australia’s most stunning alpine scenery
- Gaze at some of the best stars you’ll ever see (if the weather behaves)
Kosciuszko Kerries Range
For my money, it’s tough to top the hiking on offer in Kosciuszko National Park. In the north, creeks meander across open plains, ribbons of blue against the olive expanses.
On our most recent trip, we wanted to venture somewhere entirely new to us. It was the Main Range’s little cousin, the Kerries, that piqued our interest.
The Kerries seemed like a friendlier version of the Main Range. Where the peaks around Kosciuszko are relatively steep (by Australian standards at least), the Kerries offer up gently rolling hills.
The facilities are classier, too: the Main Range is completely bare of huts until you reach Seamans Hut near Kosciuszko, but the Kerries are dotted with old grazier’s huts, stocked with firewood and featuring palatial drop toilets. Even the grass seems greener on my new favourite range.
Day 1 – Guthega Power Station to Schlink Hut
After an early start in Sydney, we arrived at Guthega Power Station. This is the staging point for many an adventure in Kosciuszko National Park (like hiking to Valentine Hut and splitboarding around White’s River Hut) and newbies to alpine hiking would do well to start from here.
Read more: 10 Tips For Your First Off-Track Hike
Plenty of other Explorers have covered this route and its various options, so suffice to say we passed Whites River Hut (the armada of tents already set up there seemed ominous), crossed over Schlink Pass and made camp outside Schlink Hut.
For dinner we’d packed freeze-dried hiking meals, which can be pretty hit and miss. On this trip, we went with the now-out-of-production Happy Camper butter chicken meals (they still make the chunky chicken casserole and drover’s beef’n’bean, which are both fab as well).
They’re a little heavier because they’re sealed with liquid in sachets, but they’re oh so worth it.
Day 2 – Schlink Hut to Mawson’s Hut via Tin Hut
Full disclosure: while it’s only 13km on a map, this was a long, hard day. Unless you’re into self-flagellation it makes more sense to spend the second night at Tin Hut.
Not knowing what lay ahead, we began the day with a bash up the eastern side of Schlink Pass, eventually reaching Gungartan, Australia’s highest peak outside the Main Range. From there it was just a meander of a few kilometres to Tin Hut (or so we thought).
See, maps can be deceiving. Especially when they’re based on decades-old data. What looked like a vegetation-free stroll on my photocopied 1988-edition map turned out to be a shin-destroying bash through knee-high scrub.
It took us three hours to cover the last 2.5km to Tin Hut – we still have the scars to prove it.
After lunch (tuna on crackers with a squeeze of Kewpie mayonnaise) and recovery (half a block of rum and raisin chocolate), we headed off to Mawson’s Hut. Some tricky terrain required the odd compass bearing (this part of the park has no footpads), but fair weather meant that we got to the hut about an hour before the sun set.
And it’s worth staying up after dark, because the stars here are second to none. With no light pollution and cool, clear mountain air, the sky bursts with a brightness that you just don’t get in the city.
Day 3 – Mawson’s Hut to Guthega Power Station
We’d planned to spend four days in the mountains, but deteriorating weather and huge groups at all three huts between us and the power station meant that we pushed all the way back to the car in a single day.
Most of the walking for this day was just a recap of what we’d done earlier. A squawking conspiracy of ravens woke us early so we took our time with breakfast (a few muesli bars and a cup of liquorice tea) before heading back up the northern spur of Kerries Ridge.
Then it was a scrub bash down to the freshly painted Valentine Hut for lunch, and out to the car park by mid-afternoon.
We’d been carrying a lightweight freeze-dried meal for dinner that night (like I said, hit and miss), so I didn’t complain at the suggestion of dinner in Jindabyne. Best chicken parmi I’ve ever had.
- Good hiking tent (four-season ideal)
- Warm, layerable clothes (it’s possible to have snow and temperatures in the high 30s in the same day)
- Wet weather gear – raincoat and overpants
- Mat and sleeping bag (rated to at least 0 degrees)
- Hiking boots
- Food for four days
- Capacity to carry two litres of water and water treatment drops/tablets (all huts have a fairly reliable water source, it just needs treating)
- Camping stove
- Compass and topographic maps (we carried Jagungal 8525-1S and Geehi Dam 8525-2N in the 1:25 000 scale and the now out-of-print 1:50 000 Mount Kosciuszko 8525 – II & III)
- Gaiters or long pants for scrub bashing
- Head torch
- Mobile phone and PLB
How To Get There
The starting point for the hike is Guthega Power Station
- 5.5 hour drive from Sydney
- 2 hour 45 min drive from Canberra
- Fees apply for entry to Kosciuszko National Park
The terrain on this hike is relatively gentle by Kosciuszko standards (bush bashes notwithstanding), but once you leave the fire trail at Schlink Pass there are no tracks.
While the weather gods smiled on us this time, poor conditions can make navigation a nightmare and the cold can kill GPS batteries.
You’ll need to be confident using a map and compass to navigate and be prepared for weather ranging from high 30s to white-out conditions.
Distance Covered / Time Taken
50km / 3 days