Overnighting on the Main Range // Kosciuszko National Park (NSW)

Main Range in Kosciuszko National Park is one of Australia’s greatest wonders; a mountain chaser and photographer’s dream, it should definitely be on every Australian’s bucket list.


Highlights

  • Mountain views
  • Crispy scapes
  • Burning calves
  • Numb feet
  • Guaranteed laffs

The Lowdown

My pals and I depart Sydney in the very early hours of the morning and arrive at Charlotte Pass after about 5.5 hrs of coffee-fuelled road trip shenanigans. There isn’t a lot of parking at Charlotte Pass as it turns out. Actually there is none. So we choose a sweet spot on the side of the road and don our packs.

We pass the trail head and the sign reads “Main Range Track 20km” With our planned side trips to the Blue Lake, Mt. Townsend and Mt. Kosciuszko it was going to be more like 28km. Here we go!

The first kilometre winds down to the banks of the snowy river. Crossing it is a fun exercise in balance, especially with about 15kg on your back hopping from rock to rock. Did I mention one of my pals and I have both had knee surgery recently? But we made it, not a wet boot in site.

We slog uphill (mostly) for the next 4 hours. Dark clouds threaten overhead and snow drifts litter the mountainside. Most of the track is under snow drift so it is slow going. We pass the Blue Lake, Carruthers Peak, Mount Lee, Northcote Pass, Mount Northcote, Lake Albina, Muellers Pass and begin descending to Wilkinsons Creek.

By this time we had had our fill of ‘The ants go marching…’ Seriously, it’s really hard to get past 10. We had laughed, sang and danced (and twerked) our way through the pain. We were almost there.

The beauty of this section of the Main Range really is indescribable. The light is soft and golden as it hits the snow grass and the sun is peeking out from behind the aforementioned clouds. It is spectacular. We descend to the flanks of Mt. Townsend and my shutter is in overdrive.“C’mon Rach we need to make camp!” They were right, the sun was about to dip below the mountains and no one likes setting up camp in the dark.

“C’mon Rach we need to make camp!” They were right, the sun was about to dip below the mountains and no one likes setting up camp in the dark.

Fast-forward 3 hrs; we’re fed, we’re watered, we’re freaking freezing! It is 8pm and the temperature has dropped below zero. We unanimously decide to hit the hay in an attempt to stay warm. Spoiler, it doesn’t work.

I emerge from my cocoon at 7am. The tents are frozen solid as is my friends hair, no kidding. I spend about an hour exploring the icy wonderland before we cook up some brekky and thaw out our feet in the morning sun. After 12 long hours, I could feel my feet again!

We spend the rest of the morning trudging our way up to the summit of Mt. Kozzi. It was cool to stand at the highest point of Australia but it had nothing on what we had seen on the back of the Main Ranges. We spend the rest of the day hiking back to Charlotte Pass via the more frequently used day walking track. With the scenery paling in significance to the day before it feels long and arduous. All we can think about is all the wine we are going to drink once we get back to Jindy and how we would love to nick one of those mountain bikes everyone else is cruising down the track on. Soft crooning of “The Ants go marching…” is heard by all who pass us.

Back in Jindy we feel accomplished, weary and a little bit tipsy. The Main Ranges were stunning. None of us thought it could possibly be as beautiful as it was. The dusting of snow really was the cherry on top. And although we froze (quite literally) and our bodies spent most of the time confused by the vast increase in exercise, we had a great time. Was it worth it? Hell Yeah! Should you do it too? Absolutely! I would recommend mid Autumn or Spring.

Essential Gear

  • A thirst for adventure and probably a resist cold potion
  • Bunch of pals (I took three – largely for comic relief)
  • Overnight hiking gear
  • Map
  • PLB
  • Camera

How To Get There

From Sydney

To the trail head will take approximately 5.5 hrs. Make your way onto the Hume Highway to the south of Sydney and just keep on driving. Any GPS will take you right to Charlotte Pass.

From Melbourne

To the trail head will take 7.5 hrs. Make your way to the Hume highway to the North of Melbourne and just keep driving. Any GPS will take you right to Charlotte Pass.

Activities

  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Astrophotography
  • Camping
  • Cryopreservation

Skill Level

I would rate this as an intermediate hike.  The change in elevation can be challenging but if taken slowly anyone with a moderate amount of fitness could do it fairly easily. If there is thick snow coverage you will need navigational skills and backcountry skis. Alpine weather can change very quickly so always be prepared and check the detailed weather forecast before departing.

Distance Covered

Depends on the side trips you do or do not take.

If you are planning on summiting Mt. Townsend and Mt. Kosciuszko and visiting the Blue Lake you will cover about 28km and experience a 1200m change in elevation over the entirety of the hike.

 


Check out these other epic microadventures…

Hike To Forty Foot Falls (NSW)

Alpine Sunrise at Kosciuszko

The Green Gully Track // Hut Hiking in Northern NSW