Khancoban- Snowy Mountains best kept secret

Excitement of being on the road again had built up after a long layoff, and it was with a buzzing feeling that we left Toowoomba and drove southwest through Milmerran and its tank/silo art, checking on the various inland rail protests and rail culverts, on our way to the High Country in southern New South Wales. This was a birthday trip for my LSM (Long Suffering Male), and a chance to explore a pocket of Australia we had not seen before.

Goondiwindi is a long-cherished border town on the MacIntyre River and always has something to marvel at. This time it was the tribute to the Murray Cod and one of the many park and rest stops which really cater well for intrepid, and often weary Aussie travellers.

Then we slipped into NSW past the now reimagined Wobbly Boot Hotel at Bogabilla and were buoyed by the happy smile from the friendly Servo attendant on the way to Mooree. It was great to see the green tinge on the grass and the grazing country along this stretch…..La Nina had done her best to drench and nourish the countryside over the past three years, but the forecast of impending Il Nino dry must be weighing on the minds of the primary producers.

Our standard travel lunch is corned meat, tomato, cheese and onion sandwiches, and this trip was no different. We have always rated our trips according to the rest stops along the way, and it has become a photographic amusement to track our route by the roadside facilities. Yes, small things do amuse on long distance road trips! 🤣

Along the road south are the various planet signs which herald the region’s Cosmos connections to the Observatories and the research at Parkes. Quite illuminating and certainly break the sameness of the rolling plains.

Our rather uneventful day ended at Coonabarabran at the Matthew Flinders Motel where we had brought three of our grandchildren a few years previously when down to the Dubbo Zoo. The swimming pool was very inviting and helped work out the kinks that 7 hours in the car had wrought on the ageing limbs. Chinese takeaway delivered to the door was just what LSM needed after so many hours of hands on the wheel….and so ended the first day.

Weather-wise we won the lottery. Day 2 was off on the Newell Highway driving down to Goulburn – again, easy highway driving enjoying the changing vegetation until we changed direction at Dubbo. Along the Mitchell Highway through Wellington with its caves and Lake Burrendong then to Bathurst which boasts the Mount Panorama Racing Car Circuit and the imposing Jail precinct. We then were entralled by the sculptural majesty of the numerous wind turbines around Crookwell and rated our rest stops along this section according to their cleanliness and toilet paper quality…..very good on our rating scale.

Crookwell to Goulburn was a slower drive due to the winding nature of the road and the numerous road repair sections after the earlier flooding – but glorious weather makes everything appear rosy, and we were indeed impressed by the majesty and obvious care given to the city of Goulburn. It was here we joined up with our long-time travel friends T & L who had driven down the coast road from Brisbane and skirted the Sydney traffic snarls on their alternative route. Much chatter was had over cricket and NRL viewing!

Day 3 – The early morning crispness was a portent of what was to come on the next leg from Goulburn to Gundagai (without patting the Dog on the Tuckerbox). There was very heavy fog for a long way on the highway, but lifted as we turned towards Tumut – a very pretty drive down the mountain to Batlow where common knowledge, so they say, tells us that it is a big centre for apple growing….and the extensive netting of the trees soon proved that correct. Curiosity about the many yellow painted push bikes adorning the shops and homes got the better of us and L later discovered that they are a local quirky indicator of the support for the Tumut to Batlow Rail Trail.

Tumbarumba was a high priority for stocking up with provisions for our few nights to come, and Tumba Meats was overflowing with those seeking quality local meats. The Park almost transported us to green English streams, but the memorial reminded us of the Australian sacrifices of so many, and brought us back to the Aussie landscape via a resounding historical note.

The Southern Cloud lookout was a beautiful rest stop where we contemplated the sad loss of this aircraft and also the beauty of the ranges and the valleys below the mountains -truly broad sweeping vistas and more solemn contemplation of loss. Then some four hours after leaving Goulburn we found ourselves about 350 metres above sea level in the heart of the Snowy Mountain High Country and pulling into our very comfortable Airbnb unit at Kosciuszko Base Camp in the serene village of Khancoban. A great spot to relax and explore for a few days.

Khancoban has a peaceful community feel and the walks around the village were both invigorating in the cooler air and the peace and quiet of a Sunday. Exploring was now our priority. Having recommendations from locals makes a genuine difference, and we can now recommend to others:-

. High Country Pizzeria. Thanks to Lynda and her gf bases we feasted on very delicious pizza

. Great wifi reception

. The Pickled Parrot Providore – heaps of local artisan products as well as grocery supplies and a well stocked coffee and cake selection in the cafe and the detailed and informative Snowy Mountain Scheme display and the history of Khancoban

. Our accommodation – very comfy and great location across the road from the Khancoban Rose Garden, next to the Police Station and just up the road from the Alpine Inn pub and the Servo – highly recommend!

. Visiting the Dam Spillway and Boat Ramp picnic area with its swimming in the cool water and very shady picnic spots – very peaceful even with the ski boats in action

. The impressive Murray 1 and Murray 2 Power Stations and seeing the power scheme jump off the display into real space and time was a definite highlight

. Scammell’s Lookout about 12 kms along the Alpine Way towards Jindabyne. Cloud formations were like cotton candy picture book illustrations and the view across to the High Country ranges was quite breath-taking

. An eclectic mix of small businesses in the Town Centre – Australia Post; Op Shop; Chemist; Council Office; Mobile Library; Community Hall; Pool; Children’s Park playground and Sporting complex; et al

. The Cemetery

. The Golf course and Country Club

. Walking tracks and it is bigger than you think, so pack your hiking boots

. Trout fishing and angling (next time)

Well, the High Country conjures up the legendary mountain men, wild brumby horses and feats of horsemanship, and we drove the 22 minutes to nearby Corryong to visit the Man from Snowy River Centre to refresh our primary school Banjo Patterson poetry memories and visit the High Country were the pounding of the horses’ hooves came alive – ably sustained by the leftovers of Lynda’s pizzas.

All good things come to an end and we have to return to the diary entries of the weeks to come. The chosen route this time will be the less winding one and we looked forward to more adventures driving northwards…..rating more rest areas and toilet paper quality along the way.

Khancoban – definitely add it to your bucket list!