Saturday, June 4, 2016

(Not so) Snowy Mountains

Well, the receptionist was right, for the most part. Woke up and had breakfast in a pie shop before setting off in my now washed car, courtesy to the rain. As I had been lounging around the past few days I wanted to get a few kilometres done today, so I set of early and drove a lot.
First thing was to cross a dam over the Murray river, one of the main rivers of Australia. Seems like the people around here didn't like the forests in the valley to much, or just wanted the water. Trees upwards of the dam looked like they had been burnt and when that failed, drowned. For a couple of kilometres there were dead trunks rising out of the low water level. You do create a new biotoop, though, and get energy.
Driving along the Murray Valley Highway (B400) was a good choice on my part, as it wasn't very busy and I had some good views of the surrounding. Would have been better if not for the clouds. Getting closer to the taller mountains they were shrouded in the water vapour.
Reaching Khancoban (weird names all throughout Australia) it was up in to the Snowy Mountains. The first challenge was passing a building site taking care of potential rock slides along the road. I got lucky and was just able to nip through before they closed down the road for quarter of an hour. Then along windy mountain roads with not a lot of traffic behind, in front or the other way. Had a couple of stops at lookouts, but most of the time I was driving. Two guys where behind me in another Subaru at one point, but they went past and that was pretty much it for people most of the time.
Thinking that most of the mountain was just forest and National Park I was surprised when a station appeared in the middle of the mountains called Tom Groggin Station. Must be rather remote, but then there was company chilling along the roadside. A mob of kangaroos had decided to rest next to the road, so I snapped a few pictures of them. 
Carrying on I got to the Alpine conditions, the area where the treeline stops. Not to far away at that point was Mount Kosciusko, Australia's highest mountain. Couldn't see it for all the sheets of rain and thick clouds passing through, but Australia's largest ski resort is also up there somewhere. A year prior I had applied for a job there, but been to late to get it. I met the two guys from before again, who were just heading of for a walk somewhere in the wilderness, packed accordingly of course. Still didn't envy them. Passed a town which exists nearly entirely of ski lift and then got to the Australian highlands. I guess so named after the Scottish highlands, as they look vaguely familiar. Mostly bare of trees, some shrubs and grasses, lots of rocks and not to forget the torrential rain coming down. Yes, all good reminders of Scotland. Passed more weird named towns (Crackenback?!) and drove through Jindabyne. Carried on to Cooma and had some lunch in a Subway. Consulting the map I ran in to a bit of a problem. The next larger settlement with guaranteed accommodation is in Wollongong, about 400km away. As I did want to see what I am driving through I opted for the night in Cooma. With the rain still coming down and not supposed to let up anytime soon, I'm reluctant to get the swag out, even if it is waterproof.
Declined a small room in one of the pups and instead opted for a cheap motel. The owner was born in Berlin and lived there for 19 years before moving here, so we both brushed up on our German.
Got an own room now, with TV and fridge.

Went to a restaurant in the evening for some dinner and had a couple of beers before going to bed.  

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