Everest it’s not but Australia’s tallest mountain deserves a place on any bushwalking New South Wales “to tread” list. For although it peaks well short of the Himalayan giant, Mt Kosciuszko (2,228m) presents glorious mountain-and-valley views in multiple blues.
Curious about the mountain’s name? Polish-born explorer and scientist Paul Edmund de Strzelecki climbed the Australian Alps from the Murray River valley in February 1840. A commemorative plaque atop Mt Kosciuszko bears his words: “The particular configuration of this eminence struck me so forcibly by the similarity it bears to a tumulus elevated in Krakow over the tomb of the patriot Kosciuszko, that, although in a foreign country, on foreign ground, but amongst a free people, who appreciate freedom and its votaries, I could not refrain from giving if the name of Mount Kosciuszko.”
Compared with summiting the world, walking to the top of Australia is a doddle. Alpine conditions can change suddenly, though, and snow can fall in summer (the best walking season). So this is not a walk to take on lightly, even when it’s warm and sunny. Prepare for all conditions!
The most popular route to the top (about 600 people a day over the Christmas-New Year rush) is from Thredbo ski village. This 12km-return walk includes a chairlift ride to the boulder-strewn glaciated plateau. Up there it follows a raised metal walkway through wind-and snow-scoured herbfields and alpine bogs thick with sphagnum moss, candle
heath and pineapple grass. But a more scenic and less crowded option is an all-day loop hike from Charlotte Pass, a smaller ski village. This cracker hike fords the famous Snowy River and follows the exposed, spine-like
Main Range to the top.