Ski season will soon be in full flow but if strapping on skis and hitting the slopes is not your idea of fun, you don’t need to miss out on the beauty of Australia’s mountains – just wait until the snow has melted.
Nestled in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park, Lake Crackenback is something of man-made oasis. Surrounded by some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Australia, this little niche makes the most of its natural attributes. Now, I’ve tried skiing once, a misguided adventure which resulted in snow holidays being off the agenda. To me, the idea of a ski resort with no snow seems like heaven.
Lake Crackenback itself is actually a resort which offers guests the option of renting a house or apartment. Arriving at my ski-lodge style home for the weekend, I am quite happy to anchor myself to the balcony and enjoy the mountainous views. However, I am here to sample the more active offerings of the area and an afternoon of canoeing lies ahead.
Thankfully, I am better on the water than I am on snow and a couple of hours in a canoe on the resort lake is a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. Feeling buoyed by my success, I am ready for my next challenge, a gentle mountain bike ride. Hailing originally from Scotland, hills and snow are part of the landscape with which I grew up, but getting on a bike was something I hadn’t done in quite a few years. Picking up my bike and helmet, I head for the nearest bike track. Not even the report of swooping magpies deters me as I get the feel for the uneven ground below. My smugness is short-lived, as a dip in the track and the wrong gear selection has me skidding off my bike. Battered, bruised and embarrassed, I head back to the resort where I am kindly informed that there are easier tracks which may be better suited to my biking ability.
An early start beckons the next morning as I head of for my Alpine guided walk. In my mind I am picturing a gentle stroll around the area to explore the flora and fauna particular only to this highland region. As my guide starts handing out more equipment than my small back-pack can carry, I sense that I may have misunderstood what lies ahead. Australia’s highest village, Charlotte’s Pass, signals the start of my Blue Lake Trek.
As I head downhill to cross the Snowy River, I am taken aback by the sheer scale and beauty of the surrounding mountains. This is part of Australia which is experienced by so few. The river is high, thanks to the melting snow and ice, which forms paths across the mountains. Blue Lake, Kosciuszko’s deepest glacial lake, is my goal – a challenging 11 kilometre trek across melting snow and ice lies ahead but boy is it worth it!
As I sit and marvel at the beauty of this dark, inky-blue lake, the tranquillity is broken only by the beating of my over-exercised heart. I could just sit here for hours and contemplate life, which seems to be happening somewhere very far away but alas, I have the trek back with which to contend. Rested, I steel myself for the return trip, knowing that the gentle hill which awaits me at the end of my trek and was easy to navigate on the way down, is an 800 metre hike uphill, known locally as Heartbreak Hill!
Heartbreak Hill conquered; I head back to my weekend home-from-home to reward myself by indulging in a meal of local produce, a hot bubble bath and a very large glass of Wild Brumby Schnapps!