Sunday, 28 October 2012

Snow in the High Country

The temperature in Albury is rising. The school year is into its final term. It is exactly two months until we fly home to England. In short, we're entering the home straight of our time in Australia.

But far from winding down and taking things easy, we're determined to fit in as much as we can before then - and not wish the time away. With one of the country's favourite ski resorts, Falls Creek, just two hours away from us, we packed the car for our latest expedition.

The Kiewa Valley Highway took us south, into Victoria, and through a picturesque town called Mount Beauty.

This was a tranquil place, boasting the last petrol station for 110 kilometres and a bakery which sold jam doughnuts. As a pit-stop, it met all the key criteria.

We got back in the car. The road climbed sharply and then fell away before starting its next ascent. The trees on both sides were immensely tall and arrow-straight. This was a lonely, challenging road. We snaked around hairpin bends, one after another, taking each one more slowly than the last. Up and up and up we drove.

Further up the road, we pulled over, having spied the Fainter Falls Walk - recommended by Lonely Planet, our ever-present travelling companion. This led us to a pretty waterfall and the walk helped settle stomachs that had been disturbed by braking and accelerating around a never-ending succession of tight corners.

Knowing there was still snow on the top of the mountains at Falls Creek, I foolishly surmised that conditions at altitude would be wintry. However, as we completed our walk in heat of at least 20C, my decision to wear a jumper and jeans, and to stuff an extra hoodie and scarf into my rucksack, was looking increasingly like lunacy.

Falls Creek, even in the off-season, is quite spectacular. Not that many people were there to acknowledge it. The place billed as an 'All Season Alpine Resort' was almost deserted. Glossy restaurants and apartments gleamed in the sunlight but no-one walked in or out. Tourist Information resembled the Mary Celeste. Our fellow diners at lunch were two police motorcyclists.

Of course, several clues reminded us that we were in a ski resort. Yellow road markings told of the transformation which occurs here when Falls Creek disappears under a thick white blanket.

We weren't unhappy to see the resort in hibernation mode, though. The stillness added to the natural grandeur all around us. Another remarkable string to this diverse nation's bow.

The scenic route back towards Albury lent us a panoramic view over Mount Beauty. As we coasted homeward, cyclists passed us in the opposite direction, straining at their pedals. I doffed a hypothetical hat to them as they climbed towards the snow.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the resort will aestivate. Hibernate is winter sleeps, aestivate a summer sleep.