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Aussie Adventure: Week 2

As week one finished with a northerly jaunt up to the harbour city that is Sydney, week two was aimed with a different trajectory, away from the hustle and bustle (not that there is a lot of 'hustle and bustle' in the nations capital) with a southerly expedition down to the Australian Alps (not everywhere in Australia is flat, and you may even be surprised to learn that Australia has a ski season - not a long one, but one nonetheless). I had failed in my first week to really get any relaxing done, but I did manage to stay awake through the day by the end (very proud of myself), so still desperately require some time to decompress - a lot of stuff going on, and in need of some space to work through it before it impacts more sleep than it already has. Lungs full of fresh air is good for that, as is an open, unexplored landscape and (of course) cycling.

However, this was not a solo expedition into the high country of Australia, one of my sisters had previously displayed an interest in scaling Australia's highest peak; Mt Kosciuszko (2,228m), so i posed the question whether she was interested and she jumped at the chance to tick something of her bucket list. Bike and bags shoehorned into the back of the hire car, we made our way down to Jindabyne which was going to be home for the next 3 days.

Day 1: Cycle (110km, 2,160m ascent, 4h 40min cycling)

An absolutely glorious morning peaked through the curtains as I got ready to go out on my ride. Todays plan was to head up into the Alps towards Charlotte Pass, back to Jindabyne for lunch, then out towards Thredbo and back in the afternoon. I went out too hard in the morning session to achieve everything, and the heat got to me in the afternoon as well, but an amazing ride up into the high country.

From Jindabyne, the only way is up, so for the first 38-ish kilometres, it was up-diddly-up-up (appreciate anyone who gets that reference) building on Jindabyne's altitude from 915m up to Charlotte Passes 1,835m - for reference, the tallest peak in the UK is Ben Nevis in Scotland, standing proudly at 1,345m, and the highest ridable road is Great Dun Fell at only 835m. This was actually my longest climb to date, but with some big challenges ahead this year, that wont be the case by the end of 2023. Once through the amazingly named Smiggin Holes, and Perisher Valley, it was a final burst up to the top of the hill and the highest mountain pass in Australia. You could still see snow/ice/slush on the side of the higher peaks (bearing in mind this is Australia mid-summer), which was amazing in itself, so a quick drink, some food, and down down down to lunch.

As outlined above, i didn't pace very well in the morning so although the target was Thredbo in the afternoon, I made it as far as the appropriately named Crackenback. It had heated up significantly and by mid afternoon it was just short of 30c, I didn't drink enough and by the time I got to the first summit, I was overheating and looking for shade. The relief came in the form of a very small road sign - I almost 'bonked' (a cycling phrase to exhaust oneself of energy, not the other thing), so needed to take 10 minutes, recoup and head gingerly back towards Jindabyne. I was hoping gravity was going to greatly assist as energy levels where almost zero. Thankfully I did make it back, unsurprisingly not in world record time, but the focus when you are in that position is survival. Slow and steady wins the race after all.

Day 2: Climbing/Trekking

The next day the sun was shining, but thankfully it was a little cooler, so we jumped in the car this time and headed up to Thredbo for our ascent up Kosciuszko. I say 'ascent' but it is a raised walkway from Thredbo top station (chairlift from the village to this point) to the summit, measuring around 7km and rising 300m - not inconsequential, but not requiring ice climbing skills either. If you are ever in Australia, and you should all go, I would suggest doing this walk as the high country, alpine flora and fauna, are just outstanding...and you may never get this much fresh air anywhere else. The walk was really lovely, great to do it with my sister, and with a total distance from Thredbo village and back of around 20km, it is a good day out - take some snacks, water and sunscreen though, and definitely go to the toilet before you leave the top station. You're welcome.

Day 3: Return to Canberra

A good use of time, and a recovery day, was driving back to Canberra and putting ones feet up. A great couple of days, and definitely wont be the last time I head down this way! Also, if you are down here, drop into the Wild Brumby Distillery, their Schnapps are all incredible and their food is even better.

So my second week comes to an end, still not a lot of relaxing but it's a balance with making the most of your time and spending time with family (who I don't see that much, for obvious reasons). Well there is always week three to get those feet up - lets see how much I miss that goal by.

Sleep now, for tomorrow I ride.

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