Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

The Main Range Track is Australia’s highest walk, passing through rare alpine vegetation, and taking in a number of glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views. A side trip to Mt Townsend (2210m) is well worth it.

Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park

One of NSW and Australia’s classic day walks, the Main Range Walk in Kosciuszko National Park is also Australia’s highest walking track, maintaining an elevation between roughly 1800m and 2200m. It’s a 22km loop through alpine vegetation, taking in glacial lakes and Australia’s most extensive views along the way. The side trip to Australia’s second highest peak, Mt Townsend (2210m), is well worth it, and offers a more interesting experience than the shorter side trip to our highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko (2228m). If you were keen you could do both, but we by passed Kosciuszko as we’d been there before. The walk as depicted here was about 25km with 750m change in elevation.

We did this at Easter in 2016, and there were a lot of people. However the crowds thinned out once past Blue Lake, then picked up again once you get to Mt Kosciuszko. I think we only saw a handful of people on our side trip to Mt Townsend. Track notes at the end.

The Scenery

Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Blue Lake. The apparent tranquillity is misleading, as there was quite a crowd at this point. The crowds thinned out as we continued further along the walk. This is a short side trip off the main track.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Looking over the edge of the Western Ranges: the truly mountainous side of our highest peaks (which descend rather gradually on the eastern side, making them much less spectacular).
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
The view from the saddle below Carruthers Peak.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Me taking a picture at the saddle below Carruthers Peak.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
The view from Carruthers Peak, 2145m. At least I think it is; nearby at least.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Not sure exactly what this was used for.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Club Lake and Carruthers Peak (2145m).
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Lake Albina
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Lake Albina
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Sophia ascending Mt Townsend.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Rocks near the summit of Mt Townsend. There was a short scramble right at the top.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
A panorama from the top of Mt Townsend, 2210m of elevation. The Western Ranges descend around 1800m to 400m of elevation from this point, making them particularly prominent for Australia, although I have never seen them from down there.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
View from the summit of Mt Townsend. Mt Jagungal, another peak over 2000m, can be seen in the distance, centre left.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
On the summit of Mt Townsend. It looked like there might be smoke in the distance.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Me with views on the summit of Mt Townsend, 2210m. It used to be thought that this peak was the highest in Australia, and was at that time known as Mt Kosciuszko. Upon realising that Mt Townsend was in fact higher, they swapped the names to keep things simple.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Looking over towards Mt Kosciuszko.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Descending back down Mt Townsend.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
Possibly Wilkinson Creek.
Main Range Walk & Mt Townsend, Kosciuszko National Park
A big old snow gum near the start. I don’t think I saw another tree close up on the whole walk. (Actually, now I think of it there were probably a handful near the start).

Track Notes

Information on the Main Range Track is available on the NPWS website, but it’s really obvious the whole length. Most people would walk it anti-clockwise from Charlottes Pass. Much less obvious is the route to Mt Townsend, which is a faint track of sorts leaving the Main Range Track at Muellers Pass. Probably good to study a map before you leave. There’s a short scramble through rocks at the very top.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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