THERE are a handful of things that all Canberrans should do, if they get the chance.
To be a true Canberran, I think you have to attend Question Time at Parliament House at least once and to go along to the Old Bus Depot Markets. If you’re a bike rider, you’ve gotta do the Cotter loop; if not, you really must stroll around Lake Burley Griffin, including the whole West Basin.
I also believe all Canberrans should climb Mt Kosciuszko at least once. The highest peak in the country is just down the road and, until this year, all I’d done is peer longingly at it from the lookout at Charlotte Pass. In January, Luisa and I decided to change that and hike to the top.
We rocked up at the top car park at Charlotte Pass about midday on a Sunday armed with water bottles, chocolate bars, insect repellent and hats for the “Summit Walk” – nine kilometres each way.
Initially, the incline was so slight that we may as well have been walking on a flat surface on what used to be the “road” to the summit.
We strolled amongst the gum trees with a gorgeous view of the Snowy River in the valley below. Beside us on the other side of the track the never-ending mountain streams trickled down from higher peaks. After a while were above the tree line and in the genuine Alpine zone. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
Don’t dare try the walk without serious insect repellent. Mountain flies are hard-working, boisterous mongrels and while the spray deters most of them, I fear without it the flies may just carry you away. Swearing at them appears to have little effect.
After about five kilometres of virtually flat walking, we descend into the valley and cross the Snowy River before a relatively steady climb towards the mountain, past the historic Seaman’s Hut. This structure has been in place since 1929 after a few skiers perished in a blizzard.
The last couple of kilometres are very much uphill, but the views from the summit are awesome and there’s something special about being at the very top of the country. Walking down is a lot easier. The whole thing took us four hours and, at the end, I was ready for a big, long bath!
Do give it a go before winter arrives. It won’t disappoint…