Camping in the Snowy Mountains

With our window getting smaller before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend (the official start of winter prices for park entry and road closures) the boyf and I decided to lock in a trip to climb Kosciuszko and see a little bit of the snowy mountains. Our schedule was a bit limited as he plays football til 5pm on Saturdays so we settled on leaving straight after the match (missing out on the post match bevvies for him) and walking in that night so we had nearly a full day to explore on Sunday.

Drive time Canberra to Charlotte Pass: Just over 3 hours, we had minimal traffic
Park entry fee: $17 per car – as the booth closes at 4.30pm we ended up paying this as we drove out, we left a note on our windscreen stating our intention to do so and had no issues
ParkingFree spaces on either side of the road (no parking in the loop) there were 2 other cars parked when we turned up

The slight cloud in front of the moon gave it a lovely halo and crossing the rivers over stepping stones

We were blessed with a full moon, very few clouds and a slight breeze for our walk and were able to avoid using our head torches other than for the two creek crossings. We walked the Main Range track in an anti-clockwise direction past the Blue Lake turn off. We turned off the track just before Carruthers Peak to head towards the Sentinel. As the weather was so nice and the forecast promised the same we decided to camp in a fairly exposed location which would give us a beautiful view in the morning. It was our first night camping in our new tent, a Big Agnes Rattlesnake SL 2. We were super happy with how roomy it was both inside the tent and in the vestibule areas – we were able to spread out without a concern and it was super easy to set up in the dark.

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The view in the morning

Time taken to walk to camp site: Just under 2 hours
Camping fees: Free! However unable to camp in lake catchment areas – refer to photo
Drinking water: Lots of very fresh and clean water around – we treated ours with a few iodine drops

A map showing the Main Range Track and the no camping areas (Charlotte Pass is at the east-most point of the track)

Blue Lake

The next day we woke up, packed up, stowed our bags behind some rocks and walked back to Blue Lake to admire the view and refill our water. We originally had planned to walk along the Sentinel however we were both feeling quite lethargic and decided we’d put it on the “next time” list. So onwards and upwards to Kosciuszko, past more beautiful lakes and rugged scenery.

Walking back past the Sentinel
Less developed part of the track
Lake Albina

We reached Kosciuszko at around 11:30am and to our absolute delight had the place to ourselves – we quickly got around to taking photos in case it didn’t last and then found a sheltered nook to brew some tea and have our lunch. This was a good move – soon after 12:00pm the steady stream of people who had come via the chairlift started to arrive and as we walked down we passed many more on their way up.


On top of Australia

Timing tip: Arrive at the summit before midday, even earlier if possible, to have the chance to have it to yourself. The other option is to wait til around when the chairlift closes at 4.30pm, I imagine you would have the place to yourself for sunset.

Seaman’s Hut, beautiful gnarled eucalyptus trees and the start of the track that we’d done overnight

We returned to Charlotte Pass via Rawson’s Pass (clean, free long drop toilets well stocked with toilet paper and a water-free hand wash), Seaman’s Hut (would make a lovely place to have lunch/take a break) and followed the old road out – this road was a lot more gentle than our route in (and probably less exciting) and had bridges instead of stepping stones however we appreciated this as a nice cool down on our way out. We saw people riding bikes along this trail and there is a place to lock your bikes up at Rawson’s Pass.

We were back in the car at around 3pm, paid our entry fee upon exit and returned home. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were with weather this close to winter and were very glad we managed to get the trip ticked off our list before the snow set in.

Fees: $17
Petrol: $30-40
Food: ~$10 each 
(we brought leftover fried rice, instant oats, tea and a packet of TimTams)
Total: ~$35 p.p.