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Kosciuszko National Park, beginnings of the Murray River
Kosciuszko National Park (New South Wales)
Within the boundaries of the Kosciuszko National Park visitors can enjoy abseiling, bushwalking, camping, driving, caving, cycling, horse-riding, skiing, white-water rafting and wildlife and wildflower appreciation.
Kosciuszko National Park occupies an area of 690 000 hectares (1.5 million acres) and includes Australia's highest mountains (Mt Kosciuszko 2228m). It stretches northwards some 150 km from the Victorian border and has an average width of 40 km. It includes much of the Snowy Mountains and all of New South Wales' major snowfields.
The earliest visitors to this region were the Aborigines who came to feast, during the spring and summer months, on the plentiful Bogong moths. The first sighting of the snow country by Europeans was in 1824 by the explorers, Hume and Hovell, during their journey from Sydney to the Port Phillip District of Victoria.
Much of the country is under snow for 5 to 6 months of the year from June to October, consequently the area has within its boundaries Australia's premier ski fields and has developed as a major winter and summer tourist attraction.
The park includes a variety of landscapes, from steep, forested ridges, to bare granite outcrops. Three Ice Ages have sculptured Kosciuszko's summit leaving behind cirques, glacial lakes and ice-carved rocks. Treeless alpine vegetation of hummocky plants, heaths, lichens, mosses and algaes survive above 1900m, while lower down the snow-gum predominates. These trees are characteristically stunted and gnarled and the leaves are leathery and thick to prevent excessive loss of moisture in the strong winds.
Bird life is prolific at various times during the year. Summer draws a variety which includes the black-shouldered kite, brown goshawk, wedge-tailed eagle, grey goshawk, peregrine falcon, sulphur-crested cockatoo, crimson rosella, white-throated needletail, eastern yellow robin, eastern whipbird and eastern spinebill.
Within the park is one of Australia's most-ingenious and important civil engineering projects, the Snowy Mountains Scheme. This undertaking diverts the waters of the south-flowing Snowy River, through the mountains westward to the headwaters of the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers. At the same time hydro-electricity is generated for south-eastern Australian consumption.
A daily fee is charged for all vehicles entering the Kosciuszko National Park, whether just driving through on a day's outing or camping. Annual permits are also available. Permits are obtainable at the National Parks Information Centre, Khancoban.
The Alpine Way was constructed in 1956 by the Snowy Mountains Authority and now services the southern section of the Kosciusko National Park. Before the road was pushed through there was no road access to the upper Murray.
Part of the road is subject to closure during winter. The road does not carry much traffic and has no shops or service stations between Khancoban and Thredbo. The towing of trailers or caravans is not recommended on the Alpine Way between Tom Groggin and Dead Horse Gap. Chains must be carried in winter.
Pilot Lookout (1832m), on the Alpine Way, provides views of the Snowy Mountains including Mount Pilot and The Cobberras, a huge mountain mass of many jagged peaks.
Tom Groggin is the highest elevation on the Murray River readily accessible by car, and the starting point for this guide. Tom Groggin derives from the Aboriginal 'tom-a-roggin', the name of a water spider inhabiting the area. The squatters run, Tom Groggin, located in Victoria was first occupied in 1855. Later, in 1880, it was taken up by John Pierce Snr.
One of Pierce's station managers was a stockman named Riley, who is acknowledged as the true Man from Snowy River. 'Banjo' Patterson was resting in Riley's hut on the station when he learned first hand, of Riley's ride down Leatherbarrel Mountain while trying to capture a run-away colt from Bringenbrong Station. The story of the ride stirred Patterson, who put it to verse. Since then has it been immortalised in word and film.
Camping is permitted at the informal Tom Groggin camping area (in New South Wales), but it has few facilities. A track provides access to the Murray and a picnic area with fireplaces. Brown and rainbow trout are in the Murray there's lots of kangaroos and emus cross the road at dusk.
Geehi Rest Area
A mountain hut, fireplaces, picnic area, toilets and information boards are located within the area. The Alpine Way crosses the Swampy Plain River here.
At Geehi Junction (5 km from Geehi) there is a turn-off to the right to Olsen's Lookout, which after approxately 10 km of winding gravel road provides spectacular views of the sheer rock faces of the western side of the mountains as they descend into Geehi Gorge. Geehi Dam is a further 15 km along a narrow, rough 4WD track. Walking tracks lead to Geehi Dam and Sullivan Ridge and are for experienced walkers only.
Scammel's Spur Lookout
Scammel's Spur Lookout offers magnificent views over the main range of the Snowy Mountains including Mount Townsend. At 2210 m Mount Townsend is the second highest mountain in Australia. Mount Kosciusko hides behind the second peak on the right. Picnic and toilet facilities.
Murray 1 Power Station
The second largest of the seven hydro stations built. Turn off the Alpine Way at the signpost. Visitor viewing gallery provided. This, along with Tumut 2 and Tumut 3 power stations, are open to the public. Barbecue facilities.
Murray 2 Power Station
Turn off the Alpine Way towards the Khancoban Pondage. Viewing point only.
For more information please visit Parks NSW
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