From our camp at Colac Colac Caravan Park, a few minutes’ drive west of Corryong, we went on a day trip to Mount Kosciuszko which on the map looked to be just up the road a wee bit. We followed the Alpine Way to the small town of Khancoban that sits along the shores of Khancoban Pondage, a 3km long lake that forms part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme. The town was built specifically to house the workers of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which commenced in 1949. Unlike the higher altitude lakes and impoundments of the Scheme, Khancoban, at only 298m altitude, is more dairy country than high country. The tourist material stated that this area is arguably the best cattle country in Australia, and we had to agree. The pastures were lush and the cattle very fat. With the awesome backdrop of Australia’s highest mountains, the scenery was stunningly beautiful, though unfortunately no snow at this time of year.
From Khancoban, the Alpine Way began to wind through tall mountain forests and steep narrow ravines. After a short distance, we came to Murray 1 Power Station, the second largest power station in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, with 10 turbines each capable of producing enough electricity to supply over 95,000 homes. We had a look around and a quick coffee, then continued up into the Snowy Mountains.
Adjacent to the Alpine Way, Geehi Flats Campground is sited on the banks of Swampy Plains River and surrounded by spectacular mountain forest. Before 1960, the flats at Geehi were used as a base before moving cattle into the high country during summer. Located in the campgrounds is Geehi Hut built by Ken Nankervis and his brother in 1952 for grazing and fishing. The hut is constructed from river rocks with three rooms, and the floor is a mixture of concrete and dirt. Beside Geehi Hut is Tyrell’s Hut, originally built for shepherds and now a standing skeletal ruin, having lost its vertical slab sides.
Another 20km along the Alpine Way, we came to Tom Groggin Station, the property where Jack Riley (aka The Man From Snowy River) lived between 1884 and 1914. The property is an island of privately owned land within the national park, and unfortunately does not permit visitors, despite its historical significance. Just beyond the property, we drove into Tom Groggin Horse Camp, one of many such camps that provide overnight camping and corralling for riders in the national park. I was again struck by a bout of gold fever, however the narrow flowing waters of the Murray River would not yield up any glint beyond lots and lots of mica (Fool’s Gold). Tom Groggin Campground just a short distance further on is the last point of access to the Murray River before the Alpine Way changes direction and heads east and the Murray continues southward to its wellspring high in the mountains. That is the point where the squiggly border between New South Wales and Victoria changes to a straight line that shoots across to the east coast. The wellspring can be accessed on foot from the Alpine Way via the Cowombat Track, but we lacked the time and energy necessary to undertake this walk. It wasn’t until later that we learned that it could also be accessed on foot from the south via the MacFarlane Flat Track…that would have been prophetic as I’d probably have ended up flat on my back if I’d attempted it!