Thredbo 2021, Days 3-4: Back in the high country

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.

Burnt country

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.

Big Trout Adaminaby

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).

High country near Kiandra

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.

Paddy Pallin

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.

Escapee pet rabbit in Thredbo Village?

7 thoughts on “Thredbo 2021, Days 3-4: Back in the high country”

  1. Love all the pictures and the commentary. How nice to be out and about EVEN if your favorite haunts are a bit more crowded. I, of course, LOVE the rabbit! It is pretty much absolutely adorable. Hope it is a smart bunny and thrives. Do they have good predators in this neck of the woods? I can’t remember. Seems like with feral cats they are not a particular welcome site? We have cottontails in our neighborhood. They live in practically every yard that has a shed for them to shelter and tunnel under. There are tons of dogs but the rabbits seem to do just fine! Around here we see road kill of deer, armadillos, and raccoons but never rabbits. Of course we do have a large hawk that visits our yard frequently! Enjoy yourselves and I will imagine myself a part of your adventures.

    • The thing about wild bunnies in Australia Trudy is that we don’t like them. They are regarded as a pest and we have developed, over the years, many different techniques for eradicating them. Wikipedia has a good intro to the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbits_in_Australia

      However, this little bunny was a different colour and did not run off at our appearance which made us think it was someone’s pet. I loved hearing about your own rabbit experience. I don’t like to think hawks taking them but I suppose hawks have to live too!

    • Hi Lisa, I’m not sure that there’s a large German community but there is definitely some along with related Europeans like Austrian, Czech etc. I think that has filtered through because German-style food is suited to snow and the skiiing life. Sometimes, though, it’s a bit heavy for summer meals!

      Schnapps for example is well marketed here. The man behind Wildbrumby, Brad Spalding, is Australian, but like many people here he also skied and worked in Germany/Austria. This is where he met his wife, whose Austrian grandfather was a longstanding schnapps distiller. That’s where Spalding got his inspiration. Some venues here sell his, but others sell European schnapps. And so on. The influences start to get complicated.

    • I should have added of course, that the Snowy Mountains Scheme did bring many Europeans to the area in the 50s and 60s. They did establish several early businesses in the area, like Candlelight Lodge (about which I am writing a little more in my next post) and Bernti’s.(Also, there’s a place called the Tyrollean Village just out of Jindabyne)

  2. I love to hear all of the details of your lunch and dinner choices and I had to look up jagersnitzel. I knew it must be some kind of breaded and fried type katsu, but I didn’t know about the mushrooms. Sounds yummy. The bunny is cute, even if it is a pest. Friday Harbor WA was overrun with them because some early settlers thought it would be a nice idea to let some rabbits loose on the island. Hmm..

    • Yes, hmmm indeed. Rabbits and foxes were brought to Australia, the foxes by the British settlers for fox-hunting would you believe. Both are now huge pests.

      Schnitzel as you know is crumbed meat, but the word in front tells you what sort. Jäger means hunter and for some reason that translates to “mushroom” sauce; Zigenuer means gypsy and that translates to a tomato and bell pepper sauce; and so on. I love that you see it as a version of “katsu”. It’s interesting how many foods are versions of themes the world over, isn’t it?

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