Bottom to Top and Hot to Cold
I’m not hot anymore. It is mid afternoon and I am wearing four layers and a beanie. There is steady rain falling into lake Jindabyne which is spread out before me. The pepper of rain on the canvas above me is filling in the background to the drone of the cricket on ABC radio. The action here is as slow as Dravid’s innings.
Courtney’s birthday was carried off with all required excitement. The breakfast was delicious, pies for lunch went down well and Deb mastered lasagne in the Weber. Highlight of the day was definitely pulling into a van park in Swan Hill and backing the trailer up to a deluxe cabin. The kids were resigned to a set up of the tent and were super pumped when I handed over the key to the cabin to Courtney. “thank you thank you thank you” screamed Courtney as Hamish jumped on me. I have never seen anyone so excited to see a couch as was Lachlan coming in the door of the cabin. “oh Dad, Look! A lounge!”. Is it possible we are depriving our children?
(there goes Dravid for 47, might finish the game off today?)
Alpine 4wding has been the feature of the last few days. Following a car service at Swan Hill Toyota we set off for Omeo which is on the high plains of the Victorian High Country. Leaving the Murray River, we shovelled some Maccas into the kids and rolled through the beautiful Bright before starting to climb the mountains proper. The temp started to dive. 4 degrees going toward Mt Hotham. 2 degrees. And then, it started to snow. Not just a couple of wet flakes. Proper driving in hard big crisp talked kinda snowing. 1 degree. By this time the light was starting to fade and the road had become nice and winding. Only as we dropped further into the valley did the snow abate and the temp climb slightly to 8 degrees. Was it really 46 degrees a week or so ago?
I had picked out a 4wd track from Omeo through to Tom Groggin near Thredbo from a 4wd book gifted to me for Xmas by mum and dad. Karla pointed out that the fine print made mention of “not suitable for trailers” but I countered with “it’s never as bad as they say” and the ever faithful “she’ll be right”. So we set off in search adventure, and adventure we found.
About 50 klm into the drive we took a big right hand turn. The track started to climb. The track started to narrow. The track started to become rutted. The track started to get lumpy. The track started to become steep. We started to get edgy. Mid hill, we held a conference and decided that pulling off a three point turn with trailers on a steep hill with little space either side of a rutted track was probably less favourable than continuing up hill. (there goes Dhoni to Siddle caught Ponting. Should finish today for sure).
All we could do was make sure all the possible car aids were engaged and all fingers crossed. You just have to keep the pedal down and keep moving. I couldn’t look back to see how the trailer fared up the hill as my mirrors were tucked in to avoid hitting on stuff beside the track. Having said that I am not sure I would have wanted to. I held my breath all the way up as the Prado ground, slipped, bounced and climbed to the top. Shortly after, Mick arrived and similarly breathed again.
So we found ourselves in a small clearing on a narrow ridge at about 1300m elevation. At 4pm, the best bet was to set up camp and tackle the way forward or the way back down tomorrow. I don’t reckon there have been too many caravans or camper trailers which have spent a night up there and I reckon it will be a while before there is one again. Finally, we found an opportunity to turn on the trailer tent heating as the temp fell again. I’m not sure how cold it dipped to overnight but stuff was frozen the next morning.
A short reconnaissance mission the next day in the Prado sans trailer revealed that the way ahead was indeed “not suitable for trailers” and Karla was right again. Whoops! So the only option was to retrace steps down the hill and, with appropriate psyche up tunes selected (thanks for that tip Adrian) we descended with a couple of scares but without incident. At this point we decided that we should go the easy route through to Thredbo. However, when it came to the turn off to the easy route, we found the car just did not seem to want to go that way and we were off toward some more adventure. The track became narrower, the track became steeper…etc etc. This time we found ourselves pointing down hill rather than up but still taking on rutted steep track. However, with a touch of track modification and rut filling in we made it down without incident and camped on the banks of the Murray River again.
The Murray River in the high country is a cold clear rush of water over rounded river stones. About 20 meters wide, it winds it’s way through the valley marking the border of NSW and Vic. The stony ford crossing at Tom Groggin is deep enough and wide enough that I had to send Deb across first to check depth. She is still complaining about cold toes.
Pulling into Thredbo in summer was a bit of novelty for us given the last time we were here it was covered in snow. I was amazed how busy it was. People were running, cycling, walking and generally being active everywhere. Our target for the day from here was Mt Kosciusko. A 13klm walk from the top of the Thredbo chair lifts. Powered by smarties, kit kats and tic toc biscuits, the kids all smashed the walk as we were there and back in about 4 and a half hours. While it is really busy and duck boarded all the way to the top of the walk, it is still a spectacular experience to wander to the top of Australia. A big big tick for the tour. In the last few weeks we have been to the lowest point in Oz (Lake Eyre; 12m below sea level) and the highest Mt Kosciusko (2228m above sea level).
So now we are in windy Jindy and have said goodbye to Mick and Karla for a day as they make their way to Blackies. We also say goodbye to another segment of our adventure. We move on now to two weeks of sun? and surf at Blackies with friends before turning South to Tassie.
(Lunch in the cricket. No further wickets)
Deb’s Did You Know:
Meat pies, they’re an Aussie icon eaten by many. They can be freshly made or pre-packaged. Us Aussies eat circa 260 million pies a year, an average of 11 meat pies per person. Apparently the popular Four’N’Twenty produces 50,000 pies per hour. Don’t ask about the nutritional value…you don’t want to know. All is will say is that at least the meat pie must contain 25% meat.
Courtney has become a connoisseur of pies (both freshly baked or pre-packaged) and can tell whether it will be a good pie just by look. Her favourite is the Outback pie. “Can i have a pie” is normally the second question Courtney asks when we drive into a town, the first being “can we stay in a cabin”. The answer is usually no, not the best nutritional snack but a handy one in times of need, especially when you are staying at Jindabyne across from the Nuggets Crossing bakery.
Would you believe there are competitions for the best meat pie. The Great Aussie meat pie competition began in 1990 and has been held annually since. The winner of the 2011 comp was St Georges bakehouse, Kensington SA (sorry Courtney we missed this one) and runner up was our local Cheries Pies in Freshwater (will be sure to test on our return).
On a side note…did you know us Aussies are about the only nation on earth that eat their national emblem. We have done so on a pizza and in lasagne. At least we are covering 2 of the 5 major food groups (red meat & poultry) when we eat our national coat of arms.