As I know I’ve said before, travellers have to be flexible. We need to be prepared to make new traditions when old ones fail, and so it was for us this year. For many years now, our Thredbo holiday has started with lunch at Wildbrumby Distillery, which is located between Jindabyne and Thredbo. It’s a beautiful venue, and the German-oriented menu, which hasn’t changed in years, is delicious. However, this year, when I tried to book four days in advance of our arrival, it was no go! Wow – and oh well, we’re glad they are doing well.
The drive in …
However, let’s start at the beginning, which in fact meant waking up to the news of the extraordinary events that had taken and were still taking place at the Capitol in Washington DC. We’ll say no more about that in deference to our dear US friends who read our blog. They are suffering enough without our adding our own commentary to their pain.
So, let’s get on with the show, instead. We left Tumut, after breakfasting at the friendly Kat’s Whiskers cafe. Our c.260km journey is one we’ve done before, but not for many, many years. It would take us through the western slopes of the Snowy Mountains. Here is where places were flooded and lakes created for the Snowy Mountains (Hydro-electric) Scheme. Here also are more areas that were burnt during last year’s bushfires. Best of all, though, is that this road takes us through the high country, including above the tree-line. I love the bright fresh openness of this landscape.
We didn’t stop much, but we did pull in at the Black Perry Lookout (in Walgalu Country) and drove by the entrance to Talbingo (whose main road is Miles Franklin Drive). She was born here on her Lampe grandparents’ station, but the old homestead was – yes – submerged in the waters of what was to become Lake Eucumbene, so having visited the little town before we didn’t go in this time. We had our needed cuppa break at Adaminaby (home of the Big Trout).
We also stopped briefly in the high country around Kiandra (whose name derives from the Aboriginal word ‘Gianderra’ for ‘sharp stones for knives’). Kiandra now consists of brick and stone ruins. We didn’t stop to wander around them, as we have done in the past, because it was overcast and cool. However, a little further on I did hop out of the car to take a high country shot to share with you!
Miles Franklin loved this high country, writing in Childhood at Brindabella that
‘No other spot has ever replaced the hold on my affections or imagination of my birthplace’.
These mountains weren’t my birthplace, but I’m with Miles. I love them, and the sense of peace this area gives me each time we visit.
Our main stop of the day was Jindabyne, where we were to pick up the keys to our accommodation. While there, we saw a sculpture we haven’t seen before, featuring a bust of Paddy Pallin (1900-1991). He was a pioneer Australian bushwalker/outdoorsman who founded a camping and outdoor equipment retail chain. On the scultpure’s pedestal was this quote from him, which I like:
I have never striven to go highest, quickest or farthest, nor was I ever particularly anxious to be first, although this has sometimes been achieved by accident. I have just sought to do the things my innermost self has craved to do.
We eventually arrived in Thredbo, and reversed up the steep drive (as we were told to do) to our new-to-us accommodation, Karoonda 2. It’s not as salubrious as our beloved Squatters Run but we will be comfortable here. We won’t, though, be tempted to take the car out much (not that we usually do here, anyhow.)
We dined at the buzzing Candlelight Lodge in the evening, a place that has only recently started opening in summer, but is clearly meeting a need. Thredbo has for some time been marketing itself as a summer destination, and has hit a winner by catering in particular to the mountain bike community. There are negatives about this, with some – fortunately just a few – of our favourite bushwalking paths now being dual use, but it is a good thing to see Thredbo thriving. I hope those mountain bikers occasionally stop to enjoy the landscape they whizz past!
Back to the Candlelight … like many places here its theme is Germanic food, but with the pork knuckle having been sold out, I opted for the sautéed fish of the day with fennel salad, while Len went for one of their other Germanic dishes, Jägerschnitzel with Spätzle. Our server was a young Englishwoman who has been travelling for some time, and whose family has told her to stay here! We don’t blame them.
First real walk of the trip …
With day 4 dawning fine and clear, and a very pleasant mid-teens temperature forecast, we set off on our first walk of the holiday. Our plan was to start gently with the first part of the Thredbo River Walk, and see how our unprepared selves went! As it turned out, we felt pretty good so continued along the path towards Dead Horse Gap, turning around at the Cascades lookout. This is a lovely spot – with a rest seat – that overlooks a little waterfall on the Thredbo River.
For our return trip we took the Golf Course loop, arriving at the back of the village around 12.30pm, having walked a bit over 6.5km. We now feel ready for our big downhill walk tomorrow!
The rest of the day was spent quietly – reading, resting, blogging, etc – as we like. We dined at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel’s Cascades Restaurant which, like the Candlelight Lodge, was busy in a way we’ve never seen before. We are amazed at how busy it is here. It must be that people, not being able to travel overseas, are indeed exploring Australia. Intellectually, that makes us happy, but emotionally we are a bit put out by the crowding of our favourite places! I guess we’ll survive! Haha.