Yessss! We did it! We climbed to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko!
Mt Kosciuszko is 2,228m above sea level and is located in the main range of the Snowy Mountains in the Kosciuszko National Park. It is a nice 6 hour drive from Sydney and about the same distance from Melbourne, so easy to get to from either capital cities. In comparison to other mountains around the world, Kozzy is only a small mountain. And the fact that it’s called a summit walk should be an indication that it’s really not at all difficult to get to Australia’s highest point.
Except of course, for non-hikers like us! So for all you people who aren’t hikers but don’t mind getting amongst nature and love the views and amazing vistas that comes with a hike, then here is my guide for you.
Essential gear – shoes, backpack & camera. There are several tracks to get to the summit and all of them are clear, easy to follow, well-maintained tracks. So there’s no need to purchase hiking boots. I would recommend wearing firm shoes with plenty of support and cross-trainer runners should be perfectly fine for most people. Make sure though, that they aren’t that worn out and that there’s good tread on them so that the soles of your feet are well supported. You’ll be walking on gravel most of the way and your feet will hate you if you end up feeling every piece of rock that you step on.
I would also recommend a backpack that can carry what you need for the day – food, water and any layers of clothing that you may want to add/remove. We chose to carry our water in hydration bladders, as it’s lightweight and saves space in the backpack. We also purchased a kids backpack with a hydration bladder insert for our daughter. So there was no need to stop for a drink of water and there was plenty of room in the bag for all the other things she needed.
To say that this is a beautiful walk, is an understatement. All along the way, your eyes will be glued to the beautiful mountain range and valley views. Distraction will come from the gentle trickle of a brook or a little stream, wildflowers and rainbow eucalyptus trees. Then once you get to the top there will only be clear blue sky above you and clouds at your feet. You would be crazy not to bring your camera to capture these sights along the way. At the very least, take a selfie from the top of Australia!
Add extra time to the recommended duration. There are three main tracks that you can do, the easiest one being a 13km return trip starting from the top of the Mt Kosciuszko chairlift at Thredbo. The other two are a little harder… one is an 18km track and the other is a 20km, both starting from Charlotte Pass. We intended to do the easiest one but due to a failed GPS and over-excitement, we ended up at Charlotte Pass – so we did the lesser of the two longer walks.
Because we didn’t expect to be there, we didn’t know how long it would take and depending on what we read or who we spoke to, we were told that the 18kms walk (9km each way) would take anything from 4 hours to 6 hours. BUT please make sure to allow extra time for rest stops, lunch etc.
Check the weather forecast and dress for the conditions. The summit walk is open during the warmer months of the year, from September to May and is popular with bushwalkers and mountain bikers. During the Easter long weekend, whilst Sydney was enjoying a lovely warm 28 degrees that day, we were wearing long pants, 4 layers, a beanie and a winter jacket. You are exposed to the elements throughout the entire walk and at times, the wind-chill was bracing. So be sure to know the weather conditions throughout the 4, 6 or 8 hour duration of your walk.
Go to the bathroom. Well of course, duh! But I’m serious when I say “GO” to the bathroom before you leave. The longer the walk and the more coffee you had at breakfast, the more important this becomes. There will only be 2 (possibly ‘drop’) toilet facilities on the walk, one at the beginning and the other at Rawson’s Pass. During our visit over the Easter long weekend, there were so many people, that the queues and toilets itself become very unpleasant.
Stretch before and after. This might come naturally to some people after a walk but not to all. So if you didn’t already know, learn some useful stretches for the various areas of your arms, legs, calves and shoulders. We also found that the old hip flexors got a real work out on the walk back, so it’s useful to know some stretches for these.
Go for another short walk the next day. I know what you’re thinking … “you gotta be kidding me?!” But apparently, doing some more walking helps get rid of the lactic acid, or something like that. I would not have believed it if I didn’t try it but this actually worked. So, I would not recommend driving back to Sydney or Melbourne first thing the following morning. Instead, go for a short walk the next day and if you can, even the following days after that. In fact, the first few days after we got back to Sydney, we left the car at home and walked to the cafes for breakfast instead 🙂
Hiking with children? Here’s some things things that I found to be helpful …
Watch this a short clip of Izzy and I as we get closer to the summit…
Do a few short practise hikes/walks. See how you go with a 1-2 hour return walk and observe what it is you think you’ll struggle with and look into some things that you think will help and work for you. For Eddie, it was keeping to time and not stopping too often to capture it on camera. For me, it was motivating myself and my daughter towards the end to finish it. This is what we learned about ourselves when we did the Coogee to Bondi walk and it took all my mental powers to resist catching the bus or taxi to return to our starting point.
Bring sweet treats. These are great if you need help to motivate the kids to reach the next landmark or give them a boost of energy on those last few kilometres. I brought with us some individual jelly cups, the kind small enough to do just pop into your mouth without the use of a straw or disposable spoon. I kept them in my bag and only used them on the return walk and only after the fruits & other healthier snack were eaten.
Distraction is key. Bring binoculars, magnifying glass or a sketch book & pencil to keep the kids occupied during the long walk. And if appropriate, you may also want to be prepared with lots of mind games, discussion topics and other questions you can talk about.
Lastly, and the main thing that gave me comfort was when I saw that there were plenty of other hikers and some park ranger presence on the walks, especially on the main tracks and on busy weekends. So in an event of an emergency, do not think that you’ll be on your own with a need for a flare gun.