Some get to Rawson Pass en route to Mount Kosciuszko for the record. Others do it for the challenge. And still others do it just because it’s there.
But I climbed Australia’s highest mountain for the chance go as HIGH as I could go – at Rawson Pass, the highest Scenic Public Toilet in the country!!
100 metres or so below the Mt Kosciuszko summit, the Rawson Pass Public Amenities block does a roaring trade. Back in the good old days, being a mountaineer was as easy as taking a short trip in the car. Back then, ‘climbers’ attempting the summit had to take their chances with the dunny of the great outdoors.
They had to do it without the luxury of lurking behind a convenient shrub for privacy, too. At 2228 metres (7310 ft) above sea level, this Snowy Mountains alpine dome is well above the tree line!
We’d toiled along the undulating 6 km (~3.5 miles) track, gamely fighting off persistent altitude sickness, or was it lack of fitness? We’d been suffering it since alighting from the Kosciuszko Express chairlift, a speedy 600 metre rise in altitude from ski village Thredbo.
And now we’d reached Rawson Pass. From there, the old access road from Charlotte Pass, highest village and record holder of the coldest temperature in Australia, formed the final relentless uphill slog to the top.
Cash-strapped governments regularly threaten to cause irreparable damage to the delicate alpine environment by re-opening the Kosciuszko National Park to pastoral leases. But apparently the threat posed by the waste from the 100,000 annual mountain climbers has been enough to warrant the purpose built trail ending at the pass.
And the highest public amenities block in the land!
There, outside the Rawson Pass Loo inset into the side of the mountain like a bunker, was a car. A CAR!!!!
I guess the toilet cleaner’s job description didn’t involve mountaineering? At least the bunker would double as a shelter in an unexpected snowstorm emergency!
I suppressed a pang of longing for more civilised times when driving was a necessary skill for a high altitude ascent. And another for when school students were more likely to be in a classroom than crowding out the conveniences. We bypassed the bunker and headed for the top.
Maybe if we hadn’t picked the perfect weather day, we wouldn’t have had to dodge the loo queue! Tempting though it would be to take a twinkle from the top in honour of the amazing 360° view from the highest place in OZ, the plethora of people at the peak made a fine deterrent. For us, anyway!
Back at the bunker we took pleasure in doing business as HIGH as possible in an OZ public amenities block. From there, we looked out from Australia’s HIGHest (and arguably MOST scenic) loo to OZ’s HIGHest peak not so far above. And tried not to think of the 6.5 km walk back to the Kosciuszko Express station!
Now … where’s a brandy-bearing St Bernard when you need one?