Australia’s Kosciuszko National Park is a home to the nation’s highest ground, and its landscapes are uniquely attractive, if not always particularly dramatic. Well, that impression changed after climbing the isolated peak of Mount Sentinel (1900m), which provides excellent views of the so called Western Ranges. Mostly out of reach for the casual day hiker, I hadn’t seen these rugged and sometimes near vertical drop offs before. But the Sentinel happens to stick out in the middle of it all, and hence provides some of the best views on all of the mainland.
It can be visited on a moderate day walk along the Main Range track starting at Charlotte Pass. However we decided to do a loop including Blue Lake, Little Twynam (2131m), and Mt Twynam (2196m). A full day’s walk including some off-track sections, but definitely one of the best walks we’ve done. Blue Lake is mainland Australia’s best example of a cirque lake, and visiting it alone already makes for a good day walk.
There’ll be various attractive wildflowers in bloom if you do this walk in summer, as we did. You’d definitely need crampons if you did it in winter, and I suspect snow shoes too. I tried to do something like this walk in Autumn but had to leave out the Sentinel due to poor visibility and crazy strong winds. Pictures from that day here. Track notes at the end.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam: The Scenery
There was significant bush fire smoke in the air on the day we did this walk, and hence some of my photos look a bit hazy. I’ve sharpened most of them up to try and reduce this.
The easiest way to visit Mount Sentinel is as a side trip off the the Main Range Track, retracing your steps to the start afterwards. You could also complete the Main Range Track circuit for a big day out. To visit Blue Lake and Mt Twynam requires some off track navigation however, and I’ve described the route below.
The final approach to Mount Sentinel in strong westerly winds or poor visibility could potentially be dangerous. Not much point going there in poor visibility either.
Here’s the route we took (roughly)….
From Charlotte Pass we took the Main Range Track and then side track to Blue Lake. From Blue Lake you continue a bit further on an impact track to visit Hedley Tarn. We back tracked a bit, crossed Blue Lake Creek, and headed steeply uphill and off-track to Little Twynam. From there it’s a straightforward climb up Mt Twynam. A short walk beyond the summit of Mt Twynam takes you to an old vehicle track. Turn left (west) onto this and eventually you will see the Sentinel to your right (roughly north-west).
Walk off-track towards the Sentinel (avoiding delicate stony fjeldmark vegetation) until you start to pick up an impact track, which is obvious once you are on the ridge to the summit. This ridge descends steeply and then ascends steeply. In the saddle there is one point where you need to climb over rocks. Other track notes I read made it sound rather difficult, but don’t let it put you off. I didn’t think it was so hard, but even if you do and can’t continue there are already great views by this stage, so it’s still worth it. Return the way you came and take the vehicle track to the right (south-west) to meet up with the Main Range Track again, and take this back to the start (left).