After bidding Bruce and Lyn farewell on Wednesday morning at Cann River, we turned right onto the Monaro Highway and motored north towards Bombala. It was a gradual climb through the Coopracambra National Park and amongst some of the most stunning scenery. I think we may have made the journey in the best time of the year as we were told that in the depth of winter the temperatures can drop to minus 15C and in the summer rise to 40C. We had none of that on Wednesday. I think the temperature would have hovered around the 22C all day.
In driving to Bombala we had every intention of making it our overnight stop but it was only midday when we arrived in the town so we decided to carry on. After a bite to eat and a wander around, it was back onto the Monaro Highway.
About an hour later we came to the little village of Nimmitabel. Nimmitabel is set at 1070m on the Monaro Plains at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range in the Snowy Mountains. The main street has 11 buildings and at the last census the population was 237 people. We were quite taken with the quaintness of the town and as they offered low cost stays, we decided to take advantage of their hospitality. An open paddock with power and nice showers sealed the deal.
Bearing in mind we are in the Snowy Mountains, we had been told to expect the temperature to drop to 4C overnight. We thought the diesel heater might get a bit of use.
Thursday morning and the heater was not used at all. We think the temperature may have dropped to about 11C but with an extra blanket we survived the night. We set off toward Cooma and again with no real plan in terms of our next overnight stop. The discovery of gold in the 1860’s at Kiandra bought about a permanent increase in Cooma’s population. In 1949 the start of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme changed the character of Cooma with the influx of many thousands of workers from post war Europe.
We arrived at Cooma before midday so we had a quick bite to eat and because it was still so early in the day, decided to continue toward Jindabyne. Jindabyne is perched on the edge of Lake Jindabyne and is known as the adventure basecamp for the Snowy Mountains. It is also the closest town to the Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales largest national park and Australia’s most extensive alpine region.
While we were in Jindabyne we made contact with Rob (Dearne’s cousin) and Karen’s’ daughter Sally who recommended we make camp for the night at Thredbo Diggings in the Kosciuszko National Park. What excellent advice! While the winding gravel road down to the campsite was a little ‘testing,’ once we arrived, we found the Diggings were on flat grassy ground, amongst very mature gum trees and on the edge of the Thredbo River. It was a beautiful peaceful spot with only one other van and a couple of tents on the site.
Friday morning we climbed back up onto the Alpine Highway and made our way toward Thredbo. We found it a typical ‘winter sport village’ – very quite and not very much going on in the summer months. The town was trying to give itself a boost in the summer by marketing mountain bike rides – up in the chair lift and down on two wheels. There were quite of few riders on the mountain but being Friday 13th, we elected not to give it a try!! There were also a number of walking tracks available but time was not on our side. After a wander around the village and trying a local coffee, it was back in the motorhome and returning the way we came.
We drove back through Jindabyne, hooked a left at Berridale onto Middingbank Road for 31 km then another left onto The Snowy Mountains Highway. We will stay on this Highway until we get to the Hume Highway.
Our run along the Snowy Mountains Highway and through the top end of the Kosciusko National Park reminded us very much of driving across the Desert Road in the Central North Island of New Zealand. The vegetation was mainly tussock and many of the trees had been killed off by the cold and snow. They probably get new leaves in the summer but they were not on display on our travels.
We stopped for the night about 50km south of Tumut at a little roadside camp called Yarrangobilly Village. There was one house (vacant), a flat grassy area, a nice little river running beside us and we were on our own. By 5pm we were settled for the night with a nice Merlot and pork scotch fillet steaks for dinner. We were joined at about 6pm by a couple in a caravan but they parked from 100m from us so we never really saw much of them.
We departed Yarrangobilly this morning and are continuing toward Tumut. There are a few little villages we want to pop into on our travels today so we will probably spend most of the day on the road.
We are not quite sure where we will be tonight or Sunday night but we do know we have to be in Canberra on Monday.