Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam, Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Some of Australia’s best scenery on this long and varied walk to Mount Sentinel in Kosciuszko National Park, where there are fabulous views of the dramatic Western Ranges.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

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 hereTrack 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.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
I thought this looked like a mini glacier creating its own cirque valley.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Sophia admiring the view of Blue Lake.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt TwynamMount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt TwynamMount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt TwynamMount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
The outlet to Blue Lake.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Hedley Tarn
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
I liked the shape of this rock.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt TwynamMount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking up towards Little Twynam. This was a steep ascent.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Blue Lake from our way up to Little Twynam.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
This photo clearly shows the bush fire haze that messed with my photography, (and probably my lungs).
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Mt Twynam (2196m)
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Leaving Little Twynam and ascending Mt Twynam. My wife Sophia is the dot in the foreground.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Watson Crags viewed as we left Mt Twynam.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
The track from Mt Twynam on our way to Mount Sentinel. I actually took this shot to try and work out if this was Sophia (it was). I had stayed back a bit to take some photos (as usual). I decided to keep the shot as it shows how empty this area is.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Lovely colours.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
The Sentinel to the right.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
A panorama with the Townsend Spur in the background, and our target for the day, Mt Sentinel, on the right.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Sophia climbing a remnant snow drift. Someone had conveniently left big foot prints to form a kind of staircase. It would have been difficult to get up otherwise.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking up at Mount Sentinel. Sophia to the right for a bit of scale.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking down towards Strzelecki Creek. He was the Polish-Australian explorer who named Mt Kosciuszko.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking west.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Strzelecki Creek to the left.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Carruthers Peak looking a lot more dramatic than the view gained on the Main Range Track.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking west, with the Watson Crags to the right.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
The walk back up from The Sentinel.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Looking back up towards the Main Range from the saddle below Mt Sentinel.

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Walking back to the Main Range Track from The Sentinel.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Remnant snow drifts on the slopes of Carruthers Peak.
Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Remnant snow.


Track Notes

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)….

Mount Sentinel via Blue Lake & Mt Twynam
Take the Main Range Track and then Blue Lake side track. It’s an unmarked track from Blue lake to Hedley Tarn, then off track to Little Mt Twynam and Mt Twynam. Pick up a an old vehicle track near Mt Twynam and head west then south-west, then it’s off track to Mount Sentinel (although there’s an unmarked track on the narrow ridge to the summit). Return to the vehicle track and continue to the Main Range Track, and then back to the start.

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).

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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