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Kosciuszko National Park...
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Hikers need to be well-prepared for rapidly-changing and severe weather on the main range. A map and compass and/or GPS, an emergency locator beacon (mobile reception is not always possible), good clothing and emergency bivvy gear are required.
Commencing near Geehi Flat on the Alpine Way, the sign at the start of the Hannels Spur Track indicates the length is 15.5km. Hiking this distance will see you standing on the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. The views from Australia's highest peak are breathtaking but this is certainly not the end point of your journey. It is for this reason that the hike detailed below continue to an actual end point at Thredbo alpine village.
The Hannels Spur Track is unique in offering the greatest elevation gain (1800m) of any single hike in Australia. It takes in the entire western fall of the Snowy Mountains, climbing through the full range of vegetation from heavily forested slopes above the Geehi and Swampy Plain Rivers to sub-alpine and alpine tracts on the top of the Main Range.
The trail is also historic in following the spur ascended by Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki, James McArthur and two Aboriginal guides when Strzelecki became the first European to ascend, and to name, Mount Kosciuszko in 1840.
Before the 2003 fires, it served as a favourite training ground for Australian mountaineers, including members of expeditions to the Himalayas due to the hikes’s extremely challenging climb through remote wilderness, where navigational skills and bushwalking experience are essential. The renowned Hannels Spur walking track on the western side of the Snowy Mountains is once again accessible for experienced bushwalkers following maintenance work by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff and a group of dedicated volunteer walkers in 2018.
Image courtesy of the Office of Environment and Heritage NSW.
Although the trail is now clear all the way to the top of the spur itself, it is recommended for experienced hikers/trail runners and navigation skills are still required. After the 1350m ascent (approx.) from the base to Byatts Camp, hikers need to follow 3-4km of uncleared footpad through alpine heath above the tree line. This part of the trail – south from Byatts Camp and then east around Abbott Ridge to Wilkinson Creek valley before intersecting with a well-made path between Mueller Peak and Mount Kosciuszko – is marked by occasional stone cairns, but needs to be followed carefully and hikers need to be well-prepared for rapidly-changing and severe weather on the main range. A map and compass and/or GPS, an emergency locator beacon (mobile reception is not always possible), good clothing and emergency bivvy gear are required.
Mount Kosciuszko is Australia’s highest peak, rising to an elevation of 2,228 metres in the Snowy Mountains of the Australian Alps, southeastern New South Wales. Located 240 miles (390 km) southwest of Sydney, the mountain is situated in Kosciuszko National Park and is near Mounts Townsend, Twynam, North Ramshead, and Carruthers (all exceeding 2,100 metres), whose melting snows feed the rivers and reservoirs that make up the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. The sweeping 3600 views across the Snowy Mountains and Victorian High Country are sure to inspire you. Stay a while to soak in the fresh alpine air and appreciate your sense of achievement, before continuing along the track to Thredbo.
Moiras Flat (approximately 9.5km from trail head)
- Moiras Flat at around 1520m in elevation (where water is generally available from a nearby creek) is a logical campsite. A small (not flat) clearing along the track that is suitable for a few tents. For water, continue a little further along the main track before water sign leads you north along a cleared route to a small creek. You may need to use a vessel to collect water and should not rely on this source after extended dry spells.
- Byatts Camp is a possible campsite although it is not far from Moiras Flat so most hikers bypass this and opt for a campsite closer o the end of the Hannels Spur. Byatts Camp is an open site just beyond the snow gums as you reach the top of Hannels Spur. It provides great views of the valley below.
Wilkinsons Creek (13.2km fro trail head)
- An open area in the stunning Wilkinsons Creek Valley. This is a great campsite as it is close to Wilkinsons Creek
Muellers Pass (unofficial campsite below Muellers peak approximately 14km from trail head)
- Muellers Pass is an open area just before you reach the Main Range Walking Track. As This site is not as good as Wilkinsons Creek as it is closer to the main public trail.
About the region
Kosciuszko National Park spoils you with snow sports, walks and mountain biking in the Snowy Mountains. Go camping, explore caves, climb Australia's highest mountain, or stay in heritage accommodation. There are 7 areas in this park:
1. Thredbo-Perisher area is your gateway to Mount Kosciuszko. Find NSW's favourite ski resorts, top alpine hikes, mountain bike trails, and endless adventures in the Snowy Mountains.
2. The Lower Snowy River area embraces the wild south of Kosciuszko National Park. Camp by the Snowy River and explore the scenic trails on a walk, bike or horse ride.
3. Khancoban area is the western gateway to Kosciuszko National Park. Discover Geehi and Tom Groggin's camp spots, fishing, and riding. Marvel at the Western Fall views or explore huts and hikes in the Jagungal Wilderness.
4. The Selwyn area is your perfect base to explore the walks, rides, and top fishing spots of central Kosciuszko National Park. Selwyn Snow Resort and historic Kiandra are closed due to severe fire damage.
5. The Yarrangobilly area is a highlight of northern Kosciuszko National Park. Explore jaw-dropping caves on a guided tour and swim in the thermal pool. Stay at historic Caves House and enjoy the walks and wildlife.
6. The Tumut area is your launch pad into northern Kosciuszko National Park. Discover water sports and wildlife at Blowering Reservoir. Camp and explore hidden walks and waterfalls in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
7. The High Plains area spoils you with summer walks, horse rides and bike trails to mountain huts, caves, and gorges. Camp, stay in Currango's heritage cottages, and discover Kosciuszko's wild north-east corner.
The Hannels Spur Track commences near Geehi Flat on the Alpine Way which is in the Khancoban area of Kosciuszko National Park.
To get there from Khancoban, take Alpine Way south for 36km. Turn right at Geehi Flats campground and picnic area, just before the Swampy Plain River bridge crossing.
From Jindabyne, take Kosciuszko Road west for 3km. Turn left onto Alpine Way and follow around 76km. Cross the bridge over the Swamp Plain River and turn left at Geehi Flats campground and picnic area.
Hikers need to be well-prepared, including for rapidly-changing and severe weather on the main range. A map and compass and/or GPS, an emergency locator beacon (mobile reception is not always possible), good clothing and emergency bivvy gear is highly recommended.
There are no shuttles services between Geehi Flat and Thredbo so you will need two vehicles for a car shuffle between the start and end of the hike. The return drive back to the trail head, near Geehi Flat, will take approximately 1.5hrs. The alternative is to complete this as a rerun hike.
A Kosciuszko National Parks Pass is needed to enter the national park’s boundaries before Thredbo.
Hannels Spur Track Map
Max elevation: 2221 m
Min elevation: 435 m
Total climbing: 2187 m
Total descent: -692 m
Hannels Spur: Moiras Flat to Dead Horse Gap (25km)
This variation follows the same route until you almost reach Thredbo. You turn right just before the amenities on your decent into Thredbo and follow the Dead Horse Gap Walking Track down to Dead Horse Gap on the Alpine Way.
Max elevation: 2163 m
Min elevation: 435 m
Total climbing: 2108 m
Total descent: -995 m