E.pauciflora2.JPG (34498 bytes)Kosciuszko National Park : has an area of 690,000 hectares, is the largest National Park in New South Wales and is home to the highest mountains in Australia . Mount Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain in Australia at an altitude of 2,228 metres. In world terms this is a mere pimple on the earth’s surface.
Kosciuszko National Park straddles the Great Dividing Range between the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria .
Above about 1830 metres trees do not survive because it is not warm enough in summer. This treeless zone is described as “alpine”. On mainland Australia there is only 250 square kilometres of alpine area. Kosciuszko National Park protects a large percentage of this area. Victoria also protects much of its alpine zone in a series of National Parks.
About 20% of the Park is above the snowline. These are areas where snow covers the ground for at least a month every year. The snowfields have led to huge developments with the Park. Chairlifts, chalets and even an underground railway have all been constructed to cater for the needs of those partial to snow sports.
The Park is also home to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. A series of dams and tunnels diverts the eastern-flowing Snowy River to the west. On its regulated journey the water passes through power stations that generate electricity. The water is then used for irrigation. The dams, constructed for the Snowy Scheme, have become major tourist attractions.
On a more natural note, the Park protects a wide range of flora and fauna. Many of the alpine plants have very limited distribution. The best-known and probably the most photographed plant in the Park is Eucalyptus pauciflora, the Snow Gum (see image). The white, twisted trunks of this Eucalypt could be called the trademark of Kosciuszko National Park .
Kosciuszko National Park has many walking tracks. Some are short and easy whilst others are long and hard. On many tracks the sensitive alpine vegetation is protected by raised metal walkways. Even during summer the weather may change for the worse very quickly. Walkers should always carry appropriate clothing.
For walkers the best time to visit the park is during summer when the alpine areas become a blaze of colour. This is when the high altitude plants burst into bloom. We visited the Park in May when most plants had finished flowering. On the plus side, with one exception, there were very few walkers using the tracks.
The most popular track is the Kosciuszko Walk that starts at Thredbo, is 6.5 kilometre one way and takes the walker to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko . We found this a rewarding if somewhat crowded walk. Blue Lake , Rainbow Lake and Waterfall Tracks were other walks that were traversed. Very few walkers were encountered on these walks. Geehi Flats was another interesting area that we visited.
Kosciuszko National Park is well equipped with picnic and camping areas. Perhaps some of the tracks could have more signs. There is a large Information Centre at Jindabyne, a town outside the Park.