Canberra, Chips for Dinner, and the Highest People in Australia

The delightful evening of cheese and cocktails with Phoebe and Annaliese definitely refreshed us and put us in the mood for some more refined activities in the capital of Australia. Our day started with a morning walk to a lovely cafe in Watson and a stroll along a path complete with some community made bike tracks and a spoon village. After digesting brunch we went to see an exhibition of Jeffrey Smart’s work in the National Gallery of Australia which Phoebe had booked us tickets for a few weeks prior. I was really excited as I love his paintings and hoped that his talent would also impress Matt. We arrived a little bit too early to go into the exhibition gallery so we looked around some of the other works, my favourite were some stockings made to look like boobs that were draped over a chair, absolutely ridiculous. The Jeffery Smart exhibition was just as good as I thought it was going to be and we all spent over an hour looking at his work. It’s too hard to describe what he does so I took some photos and include them below so hopefully you can also enjoy how talented he is.

We spent the afternoon relaxing at home, just hanging out and enjoying each others company until our dinner reservation at Lazy Su. After a wait for our table we sat down and enjoyed a mouthwatering banquet of modern asian food. The next morning we said farewell and drove off into the rain and towards our next destination, The Snowy Mountains. We stopped at a bakery for lunch because it was pouring and neither of us wanted to put a wrap together outside the van in the deluge. In the afternoon we visited the Snowy Hydro Discovery Center in Cooma which I wasn’t very excited to see as my dad had worked for Hydro Tasmania for 20 years and I know more than enough about hydroelectricity for a lifetime (sorry dad). I’ll be honest the entire Snowy Mountain Scheme as a whole was very interesting. Back on the wet and freezing roads we snaked our way up the mountains to Jindabyne and then onto the national park to a site called Island Bend where we encountered the worst weather for the entire trip. It was blowing a gale, raining/hailing, and to top things off there was some sort of weird alpine thunderstorm. The weather was that horrendous apart from occasionally making the dash to the loo we barricaded ourselves in the van. We couldn’t even cook dinner and had to be satisfied with the sad combination of chips and muesli bars.

The next morning we woke up to beautiful blue skies and light winds, it could not have been any more different from the night before. We looked at the forecast and had a chat about our planned attempt to summit Mount Kosciuszko, deciding that tomorrow would be the best option and therefore we should find another hike to do to warm up. The Mount Kosciuszko national park has no shortage of amazing trails but the one we ended up doing was the Illawong Walk, a 5km hike through the Snowy River Valley where we saw delicate alpine plants, rushing crystal streams, snow capped peaks, and a little hut. It was perfect. During the afternoon we explored around the area and dropped into Charlotte Pass in order to scope out our planned route for the next day. The issue was there are 3 routes up Kosciuszko, two from CP and one from Thredbo. As a school kid Matt had done the 13km Thredbo hike, the 24km Main Range Trail looked a tad too ambitious, so we decided on the 19km Summit Walk. I went to bed very excited for the next day.

We reached the trail head the next day at the impressive time of 8:30am and set off on what I was hoping would be a trip highlight. It was just spectacular. We were so lucky with the weather, it was warm, sunny, but there was just enough snow around to have a couple of impromptu snowball fights along the way. The climb was gradual and only slightly noticeable and after a couple of hours we reached the top, the highest point in Australia. Rather than getting a photo around the summit marker Matt wanted to stand on top of it so he scrambled up and with the assistance from one of the bystanders managed to pull me up with him. A nice bloke took some photos of us, the highest people in Australia, and then helped us both down safely. We celebrated in the sun with a beer and some lunch. It was brilliant being the highest person drinking beer in Australia. On the way back down we both started to tire, by the final 3km it is fair to say we were both completely wrecked. I forced down a muesli bar and got Matt to do the same in case it was the dreaded bonk but no, we are both just unfit. Once we were back in the van and blissfully out of our hiking boots I uploaded our walk to Strava, we managed the impressive time of 4h05m, 19.91km, 408m vert. No wonder we were buggered. The adventures for the day however weren’t quite over. We rocked up to Tom Groggin Campground where I put the finishing touches on my cross stitch and made dinner. While we were eating we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by kangaroos with one young male repeatedly trying to steal Matt’s food. If you have ever eaten with Matt or been near a food item that he wants you would know that is a terrible idea (very food orientated guy) and next thing I know Matt is standing up and the roo is full on having a go, sitting back on his tail and putting his little paws up ready to box. Needless to say that did not go over well and Matt cuffed the cheeky roo around the head with an open hand, he slunk away and then death stared Matt through the rest of dinner.

Campsite Reviews

Island Bend Campground – A stunning spot next to the Snowy River. I think the toilets must have just been renovated as they looked very new. I’d love to come back one day when there was snow. $6pp/pn – 8/10.

Tom Groggin Campground – This one is definitely going to be at least in my top 10 if not my top 5 spots of the trip. It was just perfect. Set in a mixture of bush, river, and plains Tom Groggin had enough space so that everyone could spread out and enjoy the peace and quiet. Good facilities, amazing bird life, and naughty roos. $6pp/pn – 8/10.