The Alpine Way – rooftop of Australia

Towong, Vic to Jindabyne, NSW,  126kms,  2.5 hours not suitable for caravans

Autumn 2017

Early morning sun is casting shadows through the poplars. We cross the Murray River into NSW and find that there is very little left of the Snowy Scheme town of Khancoban these days other than a shop that sells a little bit of everything. The Alpine Way climbs steeply past Murray One power station. Road workers are attaching wire mesh to the rock face in an effort to avert rock falls. The road is very winding and certainly not suitable for caravans. At times there are no lines marked and we just have to hope that oncoming vehicles are keeping to their left. About a third of the way along we descend to the Geehi Plains and the mountain stream that is the Swampy Plains River. Standing on the bridge it would be easy to spot a trout. The water is crystal clear. There is a camp ground and shelter here and a camp for horses as this is part of the 5330km Bicentennial National Trail that runs along the Great Dividing Range from Cooktown in Queensland to Healesville in Victoria. Further on we pass the Tom Groggin Camp Ground and nearby in the distance we can see Tom Groggin station. Black cockatoos screech and kangaroos rest in the shade. From here it is a steep climb all the way up to Dead Horse Gap at 1528metres. The road is lined with tall red snow markers and the vegetation has changed to snow gums. Thredbo ski village is to my mind a blot on the landscape with hundreds of lodges clinging almost vertically to the mountainsides. We stop at Crackenback Resort and see how a modern ski resort can blend into the surroundings. Small chalets overlook the lake and there is a golf course.

After we leave Thredbo township the road miraculously improves and it is a dream run down into Jindabyne and its stunning lake. Proving once more my theory of state governments not caring about roads that are close to their borders. The Jindabyne hillsides are dotted with accommodation and we get quite frustrated with the shopping precinct that is all steps and stairs, but hey we are in the mountains and the regulars are much younger skiers. Although it is a glorious autumn day there is a lack of outdoor dining and the pub is open but empty of patrons and staff. Remembering that we’re now in NSW we find the Bowls Club and have an excellent lunch overlooking the lake for $13 a head. My smoked trout salad just has to have been locally caught and Woody’s roo burger with beetroot? Well I’m not asking.

We realise that our plan to do a circle of the alps is somewhat ambitious especially after a long lunch so we return the way we came. The smoke from the autumn burn offs glows pink over the mountains as we drive wearily back into Corryong.

Alpine Way Map
Alpine Way, Towong to Jindabyne Source: Google Maps
Berries, Khancoban
Alpine Way, Khancoban
Murray One Power Station, Khancoban
Alpine Way
Swampy Plains River
Swampy Plains Camp Ground
Alpine Way note red snow markers
Dead Horse Gap, Alpine Way
Lake Crackenback
Lake Jindabyne
Burning off near Towong

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