Ghostly atmosphere in Mount Buffalo National Park

Even if I don’t feel completely well during the night, so completely alone at a hardly used country road at the edge of the forest and far away from the civilization, I sleep well. Only now and then I hear from the forest also further noises of animals. However, I cannot find out who the loud calls are and from which animal they originate.

I am a little disappointed by the weather, because from the hoped for sunrise nothing becomes, because a dense cloud cover pulls itself over the valley and the adjacent summits. Nevertheless, I want to head for my morning destination, Mount Buffalo National Park, as quickly as possible, in order to get as far as possible in the course of the day, so that I can enjoy the announced beautiful weather on Mount Kosciuszko on Friday and Saturday.

Mixed weather on the way to the national park

Already at 7.30 o’clock I start after breakfast and camper conversion to my one-hour drive up to Mount Buffalo. A road leads right through the national park almost to the summit, which is in 1.800 meters above sea level. Only the last 500 meter long stretch has to be done on foot. After less than fifteen minutes of driving I pass the entrance to the national park, which is similar to Wilson’s Promontory with an information building and a small picnic area. The entrance is apparently free, at least I can see nothing to the contrary and therefore continue on the now narrow and winding road.

Soon I realize that the visibility from the summit is quite likely to be close to zero, because the cloud base is about at the level of Mount Buffalo. Nevertheless I want to try to climb the summit, now that I have already driven so far. The landscape is quite nice to look at and the wild, untouched nature is quite close, but the park can not really inspire me at first.

However, this changes when I reach the summit at about 8 a.m.30 o’clock I reach the end of the road, which is strangely not paved on the last two of the 30 kilometers, as in New Zealand, and a magnificent view to the west. The cloud cover is just high enough to enjoy the panorama of the surrounding forested areas. From here one looks at nothing but untouched nature. Except for some out of place power lines.

Desolate view on Mount Buffalo National Park

Desolate view on Mount Buffalo National Park

Hike up Mount Buffalo

Although the scenery already here at the end of the road through the park looks somewhat dreary because of the gray clouds and some obviously dead trees, I still want to tackle the short march to the summit. The way there is steep, but at the exposed places it is secured by appropriate railings in such a way that it is to be walked completely harmlessly. Unfortunately the observation deck is hidden in the fog. It’s a pity, because from up here you would surely have a great panoramic view in good weather. But one cannot have luck everywhere. Better bad weather here than on Mount Kosciuszko.

I can’t stand the cold and drafty air on the summit for a long time and so I make my way back to the car. I do not have far to my next goal, which I have discovered completely unexpectedly on the outward journey. Here above, in the middle of the national park, is nevertheless actually a small skiing area! This I take of course somewhat more exactly under the magnifying glass, after I, which I did not mention so far of the matter of course, of course the only tourist far and wide am. I haven’t seen anyone since I left the main road an hour and a half ago.

The disused ski area of Mount Buffalo

The fact that a skiing area hides itself up here, is already strange enough, why someone accepts however of all things such a long journey for five beginners plants, that I ask myself with the view of the skiing area already. Two small surface lifts and a chair lift provide access to slopes with an estimated altitude of 30-50 meters, another chair lift has its top station about 150 meters above the parking lot.

Far left outside I can make out still another T-bar lift, which is however apparently for a long time no longer in enterprise. It opened up the highest point of the area and might have been the only place that was also interesting for advanced climbers. With its routing across a steep rocky slope it looks quite spectacular anyway. As I find out later, however, also the other lifts are no longer in operation today. A fire, probably caused by arson, destroyed the ski area’s restaurant and recreation building a few years ago. Since then there has been no roll at Mount Buffalo.

Decommissioned chairlift at Mount Buffalo

Disused tow lift at Mount Buffalo

Tawonga Gap – Back to civilization

Due to the bad weather I soon retreat from the national park, which I can now also check off as “seen”. I don’t think I’ll be drawn back here so soon. Why the Australian Alps are called like that, I didn’t really understand yet. Strictly speaking, they are to be compared both from the height and scenically rather with a German low mountain range. I don’t really get any smarter when I continue my way after a fuel stop in Bright over the Tawonga Gap, a good 900 meters high pass that brings me into the neighboring valley.

At one of the viewpoints I get into conversation with Ian and Christine, two Australian farmers, who are traveling here like me. We talk for a long time, they show me pictures of their farm, which is located somewhere between Melbourne and Adelaide, and I am glad to finally get in contact with some Australians. Since my flight to Melbourne I haven’t really talked to anyone for a longer time. Because simply nowhere other people were to be made out!

View from Tawonga Gap

Detour to Falls Creek

After my early departure from the national park I decide to make a short detour from Tawonga to the skiing area of Falls Creek, 30 kilometers away. This is one of the most famous in Australia and if you are already in the vicinity, you can at least have a look at it. But it doesn’t seem to be that easy here, because a few kilometers before my destination I suddenly find myself in front of a tollbooth, which, like everything else here, looks deserted. Since I can’t quite imagine that I have to pay anything here, I continue on the road without turning into one of the bays. The road is a main through route, so not everyone can pay extra to drive through here?!

Similar to Mount Buffalo, the slopes of Falls Creek are mostly covered by fog, so I don’t spend much time up here, but just take a few photos from the top of the pass and shortly afterwards start my way back to the valley. Arrived there I notice during my lunch break that the toll station is in operation only in the winter season.

Then the back side of the pass is closed and Falls Creek is a dead end, which can only be entered for 45 dollars per vehicle and day. 45 dollars for being allowed to drive into the village at all. And this does not include the ski pass, mind you! There I could probably forget about my tours, as I usually do them in the Alps. Just to visit two or three ski areas in one day, that would go here extremely fast in the money.

View from Falls Creek to the Snowy Mountains

Passing Hume Lake towards the sun

Even if the detour to Falls Creek is not really worthwhile, it has something in itself, because from the top of the pass I could see that further east the weather conditions are much better. Therefore, the motto now is to put the unpleasant excursions of the last hours aside and to move forward in the direction of Thredbo, a retort town in the Kosciuszko National Park. I will not reach the village itself today, but I will reach a campground near the village of Khancoban, which is about one and a half hours drive away from the village, where I want to spend the night again for free.

Hume Lake

The way leads me from now on mostly over well developed, straight roads, so that the remaining 200 kilometers distance on the navigation app tick down fast. Again and again I stop on the way to take pictures of the beautiful autumn colors, which can be found here in the meantime in sunny weather along the road. At 16.30 o’clock I reach my domicile. And … a miracle! No further detours necessary, no search for alternatives, because the campground is open, there are even two other caravans and in contrast to yesterday also the ambience is right. Camping, as I am used to it from New Zealand, that I may experience that in Australia also times!

Colorful plane trees at sunset

I arrive just in time to marvel at the colorful leaves of the plane trees in the evening sun and take pictures before the sun disappears on the horizon and I can prepare my dinner before nightfall. So I can start tomorrow morning in good spirits to Thredbo, 100 kilometers away, where I would like to start early in the morning for my hike on Mount Kosciuszko.

Sunset in Towong

After writing the diary and updating my blog, which fortunately works in Australia thanks to faster network also via cell phone, I want to run actually only once to the toilet, to go to sleep afterwards. But when I get back to the car, my eyes fall on the starry sky, where I can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. I look exactly into the galactic center, which pushes itself just in the east over the horizon. A breathtaking sight!

Unexpected view of the starry sky

Even though I have observed and photographed the Milky Way many times in the night sky, this sight represents a completely new dimension. Because you can’t enjoy it in this form on the northern hemisphere, even in complete darkness, because the center of the Milky Way is only really visible from the southern parts of our planet.

No question, sleep is not to be thought of at all, instead I hastily build up my camera equipment and look for a suitable location. Some adjustments and changes of location are necessary, but after a quarter of an hour I have the first results on the sensor. As expected, the camera can still capture the Milky Way a bit better than the human eye, but I don’t really like the dark foreground yet. Therefore I get the flashlight in the car and light up the nearby trees during a part of the shot. Again it takes a little time until I find the optimal duration of the tree illumination, but the result is worth seeing. Finally I have the photo of the milky way in the box, for which I waited now so long. In New Zealand it did not work despite numerous attempts, here now on this evening finally all conditions fit. And that with such a completely spontaneous action!

Satisfied, I dismantle the camera again, stow the tripod and actually want to go to sleep for good now. But somehow I can’t refrain from looking at the photos I just took on my laptop and editing them a bit. So I am still busy for a good hour before I change the camper into night mode and finally lie down on my bed. Then I must sleep today just exceptionally somewhat faster. But after such an experience this is of course not very difficult.

Also interesting .

Felix is a photographer and author, specializing in landscape and travel photography and at home in Saarland and around the world. When he is not out in nature or in the mountains, he writes about his travels, photography or his favorite means of transportation, the cable car.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *