The road wound ever upwards through rocky peaks and alpine meadows studded with non-operational chairlifts. The temperature dropped, then dropped some more. Fresh from the 39°C of an Adelaide autumn heatwave, we’d plunged (right along with the temperature!) into a parallel universe. We’d gone all alpine near Charlotte Pass in the Mt Kosciuszko National Park in the heart of Australia’s High Country.
What’s in the Alps?
At the 1835 metre (6020 ft) mark, the road stopped. From here, tracks led in several directions. Down the road to ski resort village Charlotte Pass, at 1760 metres (5774 ft) Australia’s highest permanent settlement. Along the ridge to the Main Range lookout. Up to the chairlift and lookout point across the Snowy River to the – yes, Aussie imagination runs wild – Snowy Mountains. And a track to Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest point.
Named for Charlotte Adams, the first non-indigenous woman to scale the mountain, Charlotte Pass was a crossover point for the last 9 km (~5 miles) for what used to be the drive – yes, the DRIVE – to the top of Mt Kosciuszko’s 2228 metre (7310 feet) peak. Now it’s the starting point for one of several walking trails to the summit – from here, an 18 km (~11 mile) round trip.
Of course before you go, you need to GO, right?
The Convenient Conveniences
So here on Charlotte Pass at the trailhead to the Mt Kosciuszko summit is a conveniently placed public amenities building – at 1835 metres and just below the tree line, ALMOST Australia’s highest Public Toilet! But unless you catch the Kosciuszko Express chairlift from Thredbo, or climb Mt Kosciuszko from the chairlift summit, it COULD be as high a loo as you’ll get in OZ! That’s TOP #1!
Completely snowbound in winter, Charlotte Pass also trumps the rest of the country with Australia’s lowest recorded temperature, -23°C (-9.4°F) on 28 June, 1994. I’ll pause for a minute for the Northern Hemisphereans to stop laughing … but that’s TOP #2!
From the Main Range lookout, the highest of the high Snowy Mountain range forms a magnificent backdrop to this isolated amenities block.
With Mt Kosciuszko and Mt Townsend (Australia’s 2nd highest peak), and a whole bunch of other really high mountains (by Australian standards) visible to the right of the Charlotte Pass conveniences from the Main Range Lookout, that makes TOP #3!!
So if my planned assault on Mt Kosciuszko later this week is foiled by lousy weather or terminal muscle meltdown, at least I’ll have had the pleasure of doing my business in ALMOST the TOP little toilet in OZ!
UPDATE: I DID manage to get to the top of Mt Kosciuszko after writing this post AND got to visit Australia’s highest public amenities block! Read about that adventure HERE!