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Snow! In Australia! Really!!!

Snowy Mountains, almost Mt. Kosciuszko, our first (and last) hike in Australia and death of silhouette kangaroo

Blown by the winds of relocations we found another campervan relocation and headed to Canberra. But between Melbourne and Canberra there are mountains. And now I mean real mountains, as mountainous as it get in Australia: Snowy Mountains and Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain at 2228m above sea level. By far the lamest highest peak of any continent, but still.
From Melbourne we drove and drove through impossibly green hills and sheep pastures, mostly in rain and slept somewhere half-way up to the mountains, with predicted nighttime temperature -2’C. Fuck, is this Australia or what?
It’s quite amazing that even here in the south, where the soil is fertile and climate acceptable for ex-Europeans, Australia is just downright empty. Just sheep and cattle. There cannot be more striking difference as the difference between this part of Victoria and India. There in India millions are squeezed in the overpopulated, polluted megacities, jammed like kidney beans in a can, and here, never ending greenery void of any mark of civilization given for sheep. This planet is a strange place…

When we arrived to Mt. Kosciuszko National Park, the only road crossing the huge national park towards Canberra suddenly stopped us by following Sign: “NO ENTRY WITHOUT SNOW CHAINS”. Oh, oh, oh! Whoops! What? Snow chains? Sorry, it’s October and this is Australia, hell no, no did not have snow chains! Fuck this sign, we had no other options that to continue. Yes, we knew that the road would climb pretty high, but snow chains? No way, this was not Slovakia after all!
And so we went, up and up and up, and OH MY GOD suddenly we really spotted snow! And not only on the mountain tops, patches of snow really lied around the road. Luckily there was no snow on the road itself and so we did not need snow chains, but we were kind of lucky (if we were passing through here just 2 days after we would be in serious shit, because it was snowing all over this part of Australia). As always, we were kind of late and the scenery was nice and so we decided to prolong our trip to Canberra and purchased extra day for the relocation (sometimes, when the rental company doesn’t need the car too urgently they allow the relocators to buy extra day if they cannot or don’t want to deliver the car within given deadline. For hefty price, of course). The reason why we wanted some extra time was that once we arrived to Thredbo, snowcapped mountains (more precisely high hills) were rising right in front of us, and were calling our names “Marcel, Irene, come and do some hike here”. So we did, although after all those weeks of car-tourism is was kind of hard to force ourselves to use our legs. Mt. Kosciuszko is right there above Thredbo but the hike there would be too long and thus impossible to do for us, because by the time we got there it was 13:00, and so we just did hike to topmost chairlift station at around 2 000m. Thredbo is Australia’s most famous ski resort and there are few chairlifts here, all of them turned off, either because of the strong wind on that day or for off-season. When we got above 1 900m we were really in a snow region. Real snow, sometimes waist deep. The ski season was definitely over for a long time, only patches of snow remained, but still there was lot of snow. I always thought that “ski resort in Australia” is a non-existing thing, a myth, a hoax. I always thought that they get here snow once in 10 years, but well, I was wrong. It’s middle of October, winter is long gone by now and still there really is snow here. Seeing snow in Australia is definitely one thing that I did not expect.

We slept in Cooma, middle-of-nowhere town out of the mountains after meeting another Irene’s friend, this time not from the hostel in Edinburgh but someone whom she met in Byron Bay. On our way there, long after sunset, we so-so missed a kangaroo who committed a colossal suicide right next to us. I spotted the kangaroo in our lane few meters in front of our car, but it quickly hopped to the other lane and then it jumped right into the car that was just passing us from the other direction. I saw the kangaroo only as a silhouette against light of the headlamp of the car driving towards us, and then this silhouette jumoed right into that car. The drive probably didn’t see the kangaroo because he was not slowing down. The impact happened exactly in the millisecond that we passed by, so I did not see what happened with the kangaroo or with the car, but seeing the moment of death in silhouette was such a shocking experience that it took me few hours to get over it. I actually did not see the death, just the hint of the death. And that made it even more powerful. Black thing, hop, car, … Above all, I was numbed by the fact that if the kangaroo hopped other way it would be us who would hit it, and kangaroos, although they are not big, destroy the cars completely (so I’ve heard). Or Irene could have turned the wheel too quickly to avoid the kangaroo and we might have been dead (luckily Irene did not see the kangaroo and anyway the day before she showed that she is no sissy driver who would kill herself to save an animal, when she ran right over a rabbit, which shot from nowhere right under the wheels of the campervan and Irene did not do the silly thing which maybe some people would do, try to avoid to the rabbit by abrupt turning maneuver which would surely kill us at that speed). Good job Irene! The driver in the other car might have also killed us if he (or she) was idiot and would steer the car into our lane while avoiding the kangaroo. If the car would hit the kangaroo few meters in front of us, instead of the exact moment we passed through, the body of the kangaroo might have been catapulted right to our windscreen. All these catastrophic scenarios were running through my head for few hours, as I was projecting the death of the silhouette kangaroo onto ourselves. Death is powerful bitch, she is.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak