Dawn light on the Kosciuszko Main Range
Special Photographic Features or Notes
Seaman’s Hut is about a 2 hour ski from both Thredbo Top Station and Charlotte Pass Lookout. Cost and ease of access is best from Thredbo – Return ride lift ticket is $33 and you park your car in the village. To get to Charlotte Pass can be time consuming and expensive – Ski Tube return from Bullocks flat ($81) plus oversnow transport return from Perisher Valley ($85 – must be booked in advance).
The hut provides numerous opportunities for photography around sunrise and sunset as well as star trails on clear calm nights. The hut is an emergency shelter and can not be used to sleep in overnight – you must bring a tent and pitch it nearby.
From Charlotte Pass, Blue Lake is 2 hours away on skis to the north west. This glacial lake is stunning with overnight camping a must to be able to shoot in the best light. The Sentinel, another hour away to the west can provide another great opportunity with the Geehi Plains far below. To get to Charlotte Pass see access information below.
Great locations close to Thredbo include North Ramshead, (45 minute ski south west of Thredbo top station with great opportunity to shoot Mt Kosciuszko at sunrise) The top of the Dead Horse Gap run near Bogong Creek (less than 10 minute downhill ski from Karels T-Bar) and Leather Barrell Creek (1 hour from Karels T-Bar to The Ramshead and a superb 600 metre ski descent to the creek).
Thredbo resort provides great opportunities within its ski area boundary among the snow gums and the Thredbo River and Merritt’s Creek at the base are great for long exposure shots with milky water movement. A short distance on the Alpine Way brings you to Dead Horse Gap which offers opportunities to capture snowy streams and sculptured snow drifts. A 2 hour ski or snowshoe south east from Dead Horse Gap brings you to Cascade Hut, a classic rustic mountain dwelling.
Taking the Alpine Way south (if it is open) brings you round to the Geehi Plains where the Kosciuszko Main Range provides a European like scene with the snow capped peaks high above and Keeble and Geehi huts providing foreground interest.
Logistically difficult to get to in winter but with the right planning and equipment it can be a fantastic experience being out in the backcountry overnight with the possibility of shooting in beautiful pre-dawn light. It is important that you travel in a group of at least three and are either experienced in winter snow travel or be guided by someone who has the knowledge and expertise. Always check the weather forecast and if in doubt don’t go out. Within minutes conditions can change from a pleasant sunny cruise with no wind to a desperate epic in a white out. You can also base yourself in the resorts and head out for day trips – there are many pristine locations very close to the resort boundaries.
To venture out back overnight you will need to be proficient on cross-country skis or snow shoes. You will also need to be self-sufficient and carry a pack with a tent, sleeping bag, food, stove and warm clothing and your party should have a Personal Locator Beacon for emergencies (These can be hired from the NPWS in Jindabyne). For navigation, a map and compass and a GPS are essential. Add heavy camera equipment and a tripod and you can feel a bit like a pack horse struggling under the load. The rewards you get from the effort are well worth it as you can be in amazing locations for stunning pre-dawn and post-sunset shots.
Best time to shoot
6 Months of Snow in Australia?
Spring provides more settled conditions and longer days with the snow pack being so deep (50 feet plus on the western faces) that snow stays around well into December and sometimes even January. That provides at least 6 months ( from late May/early June) to shoot snow scenes in Australia! Camping out is pleasant and the ski touring is sublime. Ski clothing in late Spring usually consists of shorts and a t-shirt.
Kosciuszko National Park is 5 hours drive south of Sydney.
View Kosciuszko Main Range in a larger map
I hope to see fellow photographers on the Kosciuszko Main Range this winter.
Please contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any further information or assistance. Mike Banks
Update – Access, Special Equipment, Skills & Weather
Guthega also provides easy accessibility to the Main Range, especially for Mt Twynam and Watsons Crags. Those with less experience interested in shooting should look to hire snowshoes and target the Dead Horse Gap area, close to Thredbo for day and overnight trips.
As the NPWS Visitor Centre has limited opening times see Bruce Easton at Wilderness Sports (in winter open Friday night till late) in Nuggets Crossing, Jindabyne for Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) hire. You can also hire gear such as: Sleds, XC, Telemark and Alpine Touring equipment, Split Boards, Snowshoes, Tents, Sleeping Bags, Maps and various accessories. Hire and bookings for guided tours and ski instruction can be made online and via email.
For all of the above and the only Daily Updated Backcountry Snow and Weather Report (in winter) go to www.wildernesssports.com.au
Update – Camping Restrictions
Camping (at any time) is no longer permitted within the water catchment of any of the 5 glacial lakes, you can get a guide/map from the NPWS Visitors centre in Jindabyne showing the boundary line of exclusion. It’s still easy enough to camp outside the catchment and walk/plod or ski up to your location etc.
Update Winter 2014 & 2015 – Guiding Available
I am available for photographers interested in being guided to the best locations on day or multi-day trips. Mid-winter (early June to Mid August), Dead Horse Gap and the Ramshead areas are best as they are close to Thredbo should weather deteriorate. Snow-shoes or skis required. Late Winter/early Spring (mid August to Late September), Main Range is doable but only for those on Skis and with a perfect weather forecast. I have more than 25 years experience in the Kosciuszko backcountry in winter. I am qualified with a ski tour leadership certificate which includes wilderness first aid. No guiding fees, just cover my costs down there and provide one Sara Lee chocolate cake per person, per day.