Kosciuszko National Park – planning, hiking, camping & photographing

by Mar 30, 2021Journal

7min Read

The Trip

I’ve always been intrigued by the Kosciuszko National Park. It has the highest peak in Australia & an alpine alien-like landscape, unlike anything else in NSW. So when I got an opportunity to camp overnight I jumped at the chance! 

If you’re just after the landscape photographs scroll to the bottom

Gear, prep & planning

Of course, being a photographer, I didn’t just go to take in the sights but to photograph the area. Keeping this in mind I needed to think about what camera gear I NEEDED to take & how to balance packing between the equipment and the essentials that would help me, you know, survive. This started with the bag. 

Planning stuff

We had booked the trip but kept having to cancel when rain and storms created dangerous conditions weekend after weekend for months, so we ended up heading out in November.

I kept an eye on the forecast by checking the Bureau of Meteorology MetEye which gives specific weather predictions, in this case it was info from the Thredbo weather station only a couple of km’s from where we camped.

I got info about tracks from the NSW National Parks website, Google Earth & more importantly the very very helpful lady at the National Parks Info centre where I also bought a topographic map.

 

packing stuff

I’ve got a 40L F-stop Ajna camera bag. I use it all the time & it has been great, except! I found personally on longer hikes it digs into my shoulders & not having a proper padded hip strap sucks when hiking. So what I got the Internal ICU compartment from that bag and put it into a larger backpacking bag (55L Kathmandu Overlander)

I now had a starting point – I could fill that ICU with the camera gear I needed and it would be protected from the elements, including rain. I filled it with my Nikon D610, 4 camera batteries, a 16-35mm f4 & a 70-200mm f2.8 and the rest of the space was used to store smaller items that I wouldn’t need to access often.

For food, I brought dehydrated Back Country Cuisine packs, snacks & 3L of water in a bladder as well as a Lifestraw water bottle.

If you’re curious here’s a full list of every single item I took on the trip

 

Camping stuff

I used a Macpac Nautilus tent which suited the climate in November very well. It’s not a four season tent but served its purpose well & will deal with a little bit of snow if it came to that. I found a cool hack online for packing it! If you put the poles of your tent, down the inside of your backpack you can shove the rest in anywhere in the pack without worrying about making the bag side heavy.

For sleeping at night I had a Sea To Summit insulated mat, pillow & Black Wolf Hiker 300 sleeping bag. All were super compact but the sleeping bag was only rated to -1°C. At night, the temperature dropped to -4°C BUT with a sleeping bag liner and thermals, I created a pretty comfortable sleep. 

what an australian epirb looks like

safety stuff

The top priorities regarding safety were: 

Filling out a trip intention form to let the rangers know what the plan for the trip was & an expected eta.

2. Having an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) which is a device that once pressed calls in emergency services to your location. I borrowed one from a friend but you can hire one for FREE at the Jindabyne information Centre.

Then you’ve got the general stuff like making sure you’ve got sunscreen, a long sleeve top, hat etc – although cold, the sun was still intense & very much in a burning mood. I also had gloves which are essential.

 

Hiking

Even though the average daytime temperature was around 15° degrees, there was still intact snowfall near towards the top plateau. We hiked in, starting at Charlottes Pass, then West to the Blue Lake and continued towards Rams Head to camp overnight. Then the next day, back to Charlottes Pass. We all agreed that it was way too intense hiking there and back on two days and next time, we’d camp for at least 2 nights.
hike one
About halfway through the day – we were very stuffed
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Most of the paths were floating above the ground – it was a win win because it sped up the walk & didn’t damage the area.
Kosciuszko National Park hiking

Unknown to us until after just as we were reaching our camping ground a local photographer Luke Hasaart captured this incredible picture which shows the scale of the rock formations as we were hiking in.

Camping

Camping was COLD – especially when the sun went down, so I had to layer up with thermals, down jacket & windbreaker jacket. The sleeping temperature wasn’t amazing, but it was fine. I had to sleep with my camera batteries, phone & power brick to make sure they didn’t have the battery drain.

In the middle of the night, I thought I heard an animal sniffing around the tent – nope, it was just wind! It was a cold, noisy night.

Here are a few things I made the mistake of doing: not putting down a small tarp before setting up the tent (creating more insulation to the ground), not bringing earplugs & not bringing an extra pair of socks (I didn’t sleep with my socks on and they got frozen).

camping Mt kosciusko in October
Dinner in our campsite, as you can see there was still snow on the mountain
arrived
Me, once we reached the campsite
Kosciuszko National Park camping 1 of 1
Our campsite in the morning
camping
At night the skies were amazing

Still, it was worth waking up to this…

sun rising over the snowy mountains

Photographing 

The main area I wanted to focus on was the Range to the South West of Mount Kosciuszko – a particularly rocky area of the National Park, full of Tor rock formations which are created when softer rock & dirt surrounding granite erodes over time. This is why it seems like something has sprung out of the ground – it’s really a gradual erosion around the rock formation.

Kosciuszko National Park sunstar.
2048 longest
And the stars showed up too.

We were lucky enough to get clear skies at night. Despite freezing my fingers, I also managed to capture some astrophotography, including the below shot of the milky-way over an alpine pool. Capturing this took a few exposures: one for the sky, one for the water & one for the land while I ran as fast as I could with a torch lighting up rocks.

Koski long
Kosciuszko National Park nubular skies

Final Thoughts

Overall it was a pretty sweet trip. I came back safe & with some really nice shots. I’m really grateful that I had the oppurtunity to go and it was even better with the great people I went with. 

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