The Lost Town of Adaminaby

At the heart of the Snowy Mountains lies one of Australia’s highest towns. Adaminaby has a resident population of around 200, although its reputation as a haven for trout fishermen and lovers of winter sports means this pretty little town swells with tourists at any time of the year. It even has one of Australia’s famed “big things”.

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But this is not the original town of Adaminaby. In 1957 when Lake Eucumbene, nine times the capacity of Sydney Harbour, was created as part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme old Adaminaby lay in its way. More than a hundred buildings were moved nine kilometres to a new site while the rest were flooded as the lake filled the valley.

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Lake Eucumbene is the largest dam in the Snowy Mountains but when drought strikes and water levels drop the old town of Adaminaby begins to reveal itself again.

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At first glance the waterline looks like any other, strewn with water-worn pebbles. On closer inspection it’s not just stones which line the shore but evidence of the people who once lived here.

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Rusty nails and bolts, shards of china and fragments of glass are washed up on the edge of the lake. In some places these remnants have been gathered up and laid out as if in remembrance of the old town and its inhabitants.

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Everything is protected so treasure hunters will be disappointed. But the rest of us can look at these tiny gems from the past and imagine the town that was once here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Container

I just had to stop and admire the beautiful window displays in this clothing shop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The colours were bright and summery and I was charmed by the traditional Bavarian costumes.

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There was one interesting item which caught my eye. I’m sure it wasn’t a traditional Bavarian container!

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Relic

In the tiny town of Nimmitabel, not far from the Snowy Mountains, John Geldmacher began building this wind-driven flour mill in 1865. After seven years the mill was complete, but not long after it was finished John was told the mill was too close to a public road. It could not be used because the fans would frighten passing horses. So John removed the wind fans and ran the mill with horse power instead. The flour produced at the mill, from wheat grown in the fertile soil of the Monaro plains, was of the finest quality.

After only 13 years of production, the mill fell into disuse from 1885 and was left as a relic of the past until it was restored in the 1960s.

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Walking to the Top of Australia

When I was young, my family went on a caravanning holiday to the Snowy Mountains. While we were there we climbed Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko. Dad was able to drive to within 700 metres of the peak, and we left the car at Rawson’s Pass to walk up the track to the top.

That was more than 40 years ago and things have changed since then. Now, the closest car park to Mt Kosciuszko is at the alpine village of Thredbo and the mountain is almost 7 kilometres away. Thredbo is 1370 metres above sea level and it’s almost another 1000 metres higher at the summit.

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The journey to the top of Australia begins with the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift and it’s not just hikers who take advantage of the easy way up.

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There are 35 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the area and thrill-seekers take their bikes up on the chairlift and ride the twisting mountain trails down to the valley floor at hair-raising speeds.

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In contrast the chairlift takes 15 minutes to travel the 1.8 kilometres to the top of the ridge.

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A footbridge across Merritts Creek marks the start of the walking track to the summit and from here it’s a 6.5 kilometre hike, most of which is reasonably level. The metal pathway is raised off the ground and allows walkers to enjoy the heathland and alpine vegetation without causing any damage.

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DSCN1813Mt Kosciuszko, still bearing patches of snow in mid-summer, first appears in the distance about a third of the way along the track. From the Kosciuszko Lookout the mountain looks no higher than the surrounding peaks and has none of the craggy appearance of other peaks in the world. These ranges are some of the oldest on Earth and over millions of years they have worn away so that the highest point is only 2228 metres above sea level.

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The walking track makes its way across the alpine slopes past the headwaters of the Snowy River and Lake Cootapatamba, Australia’s highest lake and one of its five glacial lakes, to Rawson’s Pass where it meets up with that old road I remember.

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From there, it’s a short but steep walk up the original track for the last 1.67 kilometres. It spirals around the mountain until, finally, the summit is up ahead.

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For the second time in my life I’m standing on the top of Australia. It’s a great feeling…now I just have to walk back to Thredbo again.

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Gateway to the Snowies

The town of Cooma, in southern New South Wales, is situated between Canberra and the alpine resort towns of Jindabyne and Thredbo. It’s the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the Snowy Mountains region and there’s plenty to see in and around the town.

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Cooma is a small country town, with a resident population of just over 6000. Every year, 240 000 tourists swell the population of the town and they are well catered for, with a bustling main street shopping area. Here you’ll meet The Man from Snowy River, immortalised in the poem by Banjo Patterson in 1890.

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“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.”

Since 1974 the waters of the Snowy River have been harnessed to provide hydro-electricity for thousands of households across southern Australia. The Snowy Mountains hydro- electricity scheme is the largest engineering project in Australia and the story of its construction is told at the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre.

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There is a large collection of archival photos and films portraying the lives of over 100 000 workers who came in the 1950s, from more than 30 countries. Test your legs by generating energy on a bicycle or watch a  lighted display of the network of dams and tunnels that make up the scheme. Outside, you’ll be amazed by the enormity of the old turbines no longer in use.

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DSCN1632Another remarkable piece of Cooma’s history can be experienced at the Cooma Railway Station. The railway line from Sydney to Cooma opened in 1889 and brought passengers up to the mountains for almost 100 years. The Railway Station, which has been preserved in its original condition, is now the home of the Cooma Monaro Railway.

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Take a ride on a 1924 rail motor, in First Class no less, on the track between Cooma and Chakola and you’ll travel through beautiful countryside while travelling back in time.

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After seeing the country views from the train, drive to the lookout at Mt Gladstone, just outside Cooma, for an elevated view of the town, the vast plains of the Monaro and the blue-tinted ranges of the Snowy Mountains. You’ve seen Cooma. Now the Snowy Mountains beckon.

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The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre is open Monday to Friday, 9.00 – 17.00, Saturday and Sunday 9.00 – 14.00.
The Cooma Monaro Railway train runs every weekend, from the railway station.