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Matt McClelland, Best river and alpine walks around Mt Kosciuszko

January 12, 2011
Best river and alpine walks around Mt Kosciuszko book cover

Book cover (Courtesy: Matt McClelland, Wildwalks)

For many years now, Mr Gums and I have been going to Thredbo in Kosciuszko National Park for a few days in early January. In other words, instead of heading east to the coast, like many of our city’s residents, we head south to the mountains for a bit of R&R involving bushwalking, dining and reading. Over the years I have picked up various guides to help us – field guides to flora and fauna, general activity guides, and so on. But, until recently, I had not found a good comprehensive book on walks in the Park.

This has not totally deterred us. The Park brochures and the various guides I did find provided us with enough information for us to find and undertake walks. However, I’ve always wanted more and, when I was preparing for last year’s trip, I discovered – via Google – a wonderful website called Wildwalks. They had information on some of our favourite walks, but by no means all. However, I was in luck. Late in 2010, as well us updating and expanding their Southern Kosciuszko walks on their website, they published a book, Best river and alpine walks around Mt Kosciuszko, which details over 40 walks in the very area we like to walk, and so, of course, we bought it.

Along the Rennix Track, Kosciuszko National Park

Mr Gums walking through Derwent Speedwell on the Rennix Trail

The Wildwalks people are a generous bunch though: thorough descriptions, with maps, of each of the walks can be downloaded as pdfs from their website. Of course, unless you travel with a printer*, that means you must decide in advance which walks you plan to do. If you have the book, on the other hand, you can select a walk on a whim – or, on the basis of the weather, on how you feel after the previous day’s walk, on whether you are willing to drive to the starting point (as it is a very large national park), on how much of an appetite you want to work up …

But, enough of that, let’s get to the book. It is nicely produced on quality semi-gloss paper. It includes useful material about the park in general (including weather conditions), and about bushwalking (including safety tips) in particular. It has a map at the front with the walks marked on it, and an excellent table listing the walks so that you can see them all at a glance and check length, difficulty level etc. It has a small but useful index. And it is packed with enticing photographs. The bulk of the book is of course devoted to the walks and is organised (and colour-coded) by region, such as the Alpine Way, Guthega, and so on. There is a section, too, on Snowshoe Walks for those hardy people who go to the mountains in the winter.

For each walk the following information is provided:

  • At a glance inset box providing the Grade (difficulty level); Time; Distance and type of walk (one-way, return, etc); Ascent/descent (in metres); Conditions (amount of shade, water crossings etc); and GPS for beginning and end.
  • Brief description of the walk.
  • Finding the track. In other words, how to find the start!
  • Walk directions. Written directions for the walk, with numbered points which are shown on that walk’s map.
  • Map and relief diagram, on both of which are marked the numbers from the Walk directions.
  • Other information as appropriate, such as, for some walks, variations that can be taken.

Last week, we did four of the walks in the book – three we’d done before and one we hadn’t. We found the guide easy to understand and accurate – right down to timing and assessment of “grade”. We particularly valued the climb information provided – both textually and pictorially – for the ascents and descents involved in each walk. We did find the odd discrepancy – mostly a marker mentioned in the guide that we didn’t see on the ground. Perhaps we missed them or, more likely, they have disappeared (faded, fallen over, whatever!). We also noticed that the pdf descriptions of the walks provided a little more detail – such as distance/time information for each point on a walk – and a contour style map rather than the more schematic one in the book. This difference in maps is due, I presume, to space and page size factors – and is not a critical issue: the walks in general are easy to follow and, anyhow, you can print out the pdf in advance (at no charge) if you wish.

A good quality spiral binding, with an inbuilt book/page marker, would probably make the guide more user-friendly when you are on a walk, but spiral bindings (even good ones) are not as sturdy so the glue (perfect) binding style is probably best.

Overall then, a big thumbs up. This is a well-thought out guide prepared by people who clearly know bushwalking and what bushwalkers (particularly casual, recreational ones like us) want (and need). My sense is that the people at Wildwalks are doing this more for the love than the money – and for that I wave my hiking stick at them. If you walk – or plan to walk – in Australia (specifically, at present, in NSW and the ACT), check them out because they currently have over 900 walks documented on their site.

Matt McClelland and the Wildwalks team
Best river and alpine walks about Mt Kosciuszko
Warriewood: Woodslane Press, 2010
250pp.
ISBN: 9781921606045

* or have downloaded them onto some smartphone device in advance (as you can’t rely on reception once you are out on a walk).

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2011 2:42 pm

    The only way I think this book could be more helpful is by giving you bush tucker advice 😉

    • January 12, 2011 3:28 pm

      You’re right, it would. That would save us having to carry muesli bars and nuts with us, wouldn’t it!! After all, it’s good to travel light!

  2. January 12, 2011 7:56 pm

    I’m with Hannah. I like my walking plans to come with notification of tea and scone stops. Perhaps not so likely in your case, but a definite option in the English Midlands. Our news bulletins today are all headlined by the floods in Queensland. I hope you’re nowhere near and are safe. Do know that we are all thinking of you and wish we could help.

    • January 12, 2011 11:23 pm

      Thanks Annie. Fortunately, we are significantly south of the flood areas so feel sorry for those involved but grateful for our own safety.

      As you sensed, these walks are not in areas where there are scone and tea stops in the middle of them, and in fact for quite a few of them there aren’t even such stops near the start/end BUT we stay in the main village in the area and always have a lovely meal in the evening. The book doesn’t need to tell us about those! Quite different from the English midlands which I know slightly due to visiting a relation by marriage who lived in Rugeley (sp?) in Staffordshire.

  3. January 15, 2011 4:41 am

    You’re so lucky to have such a beautiful nearby place to visit like that. It sounds gorgeous and that photo of Mr. Gums walking through the speedwell, I could smell it and hear the bees buzzing from here.

    • January 15, 2011 9:19 am

      Thanks Stefanie, I think we are. However, unfortunately, what you are more likely to hear buzzing in that area are not bees but March flies. They bite – though not with the sting – but they are more interested in humans than flowers which can make them a bother. Luckily they weren’t as preponderant this year!

      • January 16, 2011 2:00 am

        But it’s not March 😉 We don’t have biting flies but we have giant mosquitos, the Minnesota state bird as the joke goes, and really, they are huge so you can feel them when they bite you, which actually hurts sometimes, and know that there will soon be a nice itchy bump there, or in the case of my poor husband who is allergic, a big welt.

        • January 16, 2011 2:24 pm

          That’s it … we will never come to Minnesota while there are mosquitos there! My husband hates them – probably a bit like your husband. They seem to like him more than they like me too!

  4. January 22, 2011 8:45 pm

    This sounds an interesting book Sue, and if I ever get to Thredbo again, I must look at it. I haven’t been there in decades. Every summer I see your pictures and think how nice it would be to go back again sometime soon, and then every year the holiday plans are taken up with other destinations. Maybe next year? Will have to work on it.

    • January 22, 2011 10:55 pm

      Well, it’s hard when you have family in NZ, and it’s not a though NZ is an awful place to visit after all! But I do hope you get to Thredbo again…and if you do, this book is a great guide. If you go to the website you’ll find, I think, that their first book is for the Central Coast of NSW. That might interest you – the walks are all detailed on the site too (and organised by length and region, if I recollect).

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