“The Diggings” are sheltered beneath the spectacular Rams Head Mountain Range and are next to the Thredbo River which runs down towards Lake Jindabyne. The combination of the river and the mountains creates some great photographic options.
Special Photographic Features or Notes.
From the campsites you can either walk West along the river in the direction of Thredbo Village or you can take the Bullocks Track Circuit which runs to the East towards the Skitube railway station. You have two options walking west along the river to either follow the southern bank which is considerably steeper or cross the river and go up the other side. If you do walk up the Southern side it is possible to get down to a good point that looks back out across one of the ponds (marked on the map with a red circle). It is not possible to cross from one side of the river to the other at this point.
There is a shallow ford near the car-park and you will pick up a series of (sometime vague) footpads that have been created by fisherman and wombats. Watch out for the wombat holes and some old rabbit burrows they have the potential to be ankle breakers. This side of the riverbank is fairly flat and I’ve managed to get a fair way up the river on this side. If you get all the way up to the next bend there is a shallow bit where it is possible to wade through to the other side where it is easier to work your way further up the river.
The river is basically a series of deep pools and shallow runs of water, the later sometimes allow you to cross from one side of the river to the other or get a view across the pools with the mountains in the background. You can walk East once you cross the ford but the scrub becomes thicker on that side once you get past the plain and it is harder to get access to the river from that point on.
Bullocks Track will take you in a circuit to the skitube station and back to the carpark. Again you get access to the river at different parts of this track but I don’t think the views are as good in that regard. The main highlight of this trail is the different vegetation to the areas described above and it is spot you’re most likely to find deer or kangaroos early in the morning.
There are two start points to the Bullocks Walking Track. The one closest to the river is marked on both maps with a cross. It is easy walking and the trail is clear and well formed along its entire length.
Here’s an example of a shot I took one winters morning from just the other side of the ford.
There are no artificial light-sources at the campsites aside from whatever people bring along with them. Even then the sites are all spaced a fair way apart so that shouldn’t be a problem. Although you are only a 100km or so from Canberra the skies appear fairly clear.
I’d recommend a set of Graduated Neutral Density Filters to cope with the strong contrasts between foreground and background (I didn’t have a set last time I went and regretted it). There are some nice opportunities for macro photography especially when it is frosty of a morning. The river is a first-class trout fishing stream so during the fishing season you’ll be sharing the river with a fair number of fisherman.
A set of waders is helpful in spring and autumn when the water can be a little chilly. If you do use them be careful not to go to deep as if they fill with water (aside from the sudden burst of cold) you can get dragged downstream if the water is flowing. To avoid this you should always make sure that you can access the quick release strap on the waders. Even if you’re not using waders you’ll want a waterproof or a drybag to keep your camera in so that if you get wet your camera doesn’t. The river is fed by both rain-fall and snowmelt so it can vary in depth considerably, use your common sense and don’t try and cross the river if it is running high.
I’ve never seen any snakes around here but they are no doubt around so be careful when you’re stepping over logs that you’re not going to put your foot on something. When I was last here there was a european wasps nest in one of the wombat holes that was rather annoying as they’ll come and dive-bomb you when you’re cooking or eating. They weren’t aggressive but they were very persistent and are something to keep an eye out for.
If you are going to throw a line in the water while you’re here make sure that the season is open and that you have a fishing licence with you. You cannot use bait of any kind in this river so it is flies and lures only. Fisheries Officers regularly patrol the area so if you break the rules you’ll get caught.
Best Time of the Day.
I think the best time of day is definitely sunrise as that is when the light is best and the wildlife is out and about. In the colder months (which in this part of the world can be anytime of the year) the frost can create some wonderful shots in both the wideangle and macro world.
Jindabyne is about 2 hours drive South from Canberra via Cooma. To get to “The Diggings” you drive through town until you get to the turn-off for the Alpine Way. This is the road to the Thredbo ski-fields so it is well sign posted. Drive along this road until you reach the entrance to the Kosciuszko National Park where you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of $16/day or $27 if it is during the ski-season. A couple of hundred metres down the road you’ll pass the Skitube Station keep on driving past the exits to that. A kilometre or so further along on the righthand side you’ll find the turnoff to “The Diggings”. The camp-sites and car-park are a couple of hundred metres down this gravel road.You can camp for free at these sites so long as you have paid your entrance fee for the time that you are down there. Most of the camp-sites look out over the river and there are a handful of picnic tables and wood bbq. You’ll need to bring your own firewood though as National Parks no longer supply any to the site. There are pit toilets. You cannot book sites here so it can get a little busy on long weekends during the fishing season.