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Today we are on the half of our holiday and have still four weeks to go in Australia. After three nights in Kahncoban, at the western side of the Snowy Mountains, we plan for a trip through the mountains.
Near Kahncoban we see giant water pipes in the landscape. We are interested to visit the power station, but unfortunately no access for unauthorised personnel.

After loading up our second set of files on the homepage, we left. That loading cost us lots of time as the hundreds of files of all the pictures had to be uploaded one by one, as the normal FTP protocol did not work on the computers there. The lady of the internet café said embarrassed that the man who set it all up left and the man taking care for the maintenance could no fix it.

The road after Kahncoban climbed steeply and after passing along an artificial lake, we visited the power station Murray 1. We had that 'deja vu' feeling as we visited this power station some years earlier. But as we travelled through opposite direction, the scenery looked total different. And we had this year collected lots of information on the Snowy Hydro projects, so this was nicely complementary. The power station has an output of 950 megawatt, more than a big conventional or nuclear power station. It was in full operation, all generators and equipment humming. A big stream of fresh water left the power plant and later the energy was extracted once more at the power station near Kahncoban, The 3 four meter wide pipes dominate in white colour the landscape.
The forest was impressive as well, with the usual giant gumtrees. The vegetation differs remarkably from slope to slope. From an outlook we had an excellent view on the more than 2000m high mountain ridge.
The view on the forest was wonderful and changed every corner of the winding road.

In the second half of the trip we saw the results of the giant bush fires this spring, widely reported in the press. It was still an area dominated by charred tree trunks,and cleared from the low vegetation that was burned away till the soil, but the regeneration was already visible. Grasses were sprouting and many trees have new leaves emerging from buds. It is just a natural cycle here.

Half way the trip Mariska made it clear it was enough for her today, so we pulled from the road in a nice area, and decided to stay here for the night, in nature on our own power.

When we checked out the location it was soon clear we found ourselves in an area occupied by an other family, of rather big kangaroos. They watched us from a distance. Mariska was very interested in the kangaroos and went to them with the big ball, likely she was thinking that kangaroos are playing pals. It looked like one of the kangaroo babies was interested in Mariska, but we did not like to try it out.1363 As these kangaroos are wild ones and rather unpredictable, we kept Mariska on a distance from the kangaroos.

We made a walk over the nice area and could take some nice pictures with towering clouds at sunset. Next morning we woke up in the wilderness, enjoying the nice scenery . We left early for Thredbo, the trip was awesome. Of course we once in a while crossed forest, damaged by fire. Some times a forest was damages under, while the tops were normal green .

Thredbo,1365m high, is the premier Australian luxe ski resort, at the foot of the Mount Kosciuszko, the highest Australian mountain of about 2200m. The apartments are sold for incredible prices. A two bedroom apartment is sold for slightly under one million dollar. The ski area is nice and two chairlifts are hauling people to the top. From there lots of nice runs are situated at the cool southern slopes. The temperature was very comfortable at this altitude, at least 10ndegrees cooler than in the lowlands. The town was extended at a high pace and was considerably bigger than 5 years ago, when we were there for the first time. Huge parking areas are available. Skiing there must be extremely expensive. It is in a national park and even for a car you have to pay a daily 16 dollar fee.

After a stroll in the village, where we and doing some shopping we left for the next surprise, the valley north of Thredbo, parallel to the Thredbo valley, named Perisher. Here the road climbed steadily till 1835 meter, via several passes of more than 1600m, where low snowgums (eucalyptus pauciflora) tried to survive.

We first wanted to go to the end of the end of the valley, to the Charlotte pass, most likely the highest road in Australia. There was even a ski village near the Charlotte pass, named with unbelievable creativity: Charlotte Pass village. From the Charlotte pass was a 3 hour walking track to the highest Australian mountain, the Mount Kosciuszko,named after a general. The Mount Kosciuszko in not an impressive peak but a slightly higher hill than some others at this high plain.

Clearly visible are the valleys churned out by glaciers in past ice ages. The light was so bright that Birgitt and Mariska needed their sunglasses. On the warm north side (typical on the southern hemisphere) even trees could survive at this altitude. And as usual the unique flowers, only living here. The mountain swamps and the little rivers created their own micro climate and flora.

Perisher is a high altitude ski resort with lots of lifts. The vertical difference did not look much, but still the Perisher complex looked big. We like to get some more information about the ski possibilities but in Perisher there are only winter activities, and now only people working for maintenance. We went to the empty almost dusty information office to ask for information about winter sport in Perisher. The lady, with a heavy German accent, looked however at this difficult question, as puzzled as a monkey studying in a rusty watch. So we still do not know the details. There are not that much alpine resorts in Australia, so all Australian winter sporters have to be accommodated in the few resorts.

We enjoyed the magnificent landscape and wanted to see the third road in the area, leading to Guthega. On descending to the power station there, we noticed a sudden change in trees and plants. Near the power station was a fast river, fed by the 4m thick water pipes in the distance. The power station was smaller than the Murray station, but still produced a big stream, just left of the picture is the power station Guthega .

The Snowy Hydro is a magnificent system, producing lots of renewable energy, stabilising the water flow to the rivers and preventing floods. Renewable energy is now very fashionable in times of climate change. Of course there is a drawback. Unique alpine regions are simply destroyed by making huge artificial lakes. And the damage of the enormous construction works, listed as one of the wonders of engineering, the dams, the channels, pipes and power station has caused unrepairable damage. Access roads for the construction and maintenance have made the area accessible for mass tourism. Now at some places Snowy Hydro tries to regenerate some of the damage in a few areas. We indeed saw a few trees planted. That surely must give a good feeling but is definitely only symbolic. Modern life goes on and we have to live with the consequences.

We went to the caravanpark, Jindabyne. same as we visited 5 years ago. The management has made a big improvement in quality. In winter this caravan park was the ideal place to stay for budget skiers. It was only 20 km to the skiing area's. In summer it is on the border of a giant lake, part of the Snowy Hydro Scheme. So summer and winter guests, easy to make it profitable.

The next morning we made only a short trip, to Cooma, a regional centre. Here is the headquarters of Snowy Hydro with an information and education centre. On the way to Cooma we saw an interesting souvenir of the ice ages: displaced boulders., with impressive clouds in the background. The boulders were transported by the glaciers. They are rounded as countless times they bumped on each other. When the glaciers 'retreated', the giant boulders were left. Of course the glaciers did not retreat, as they only go forward. They only get bigger or smaller and disappeared.

Another surprise: the fields were here green. It had rained the day before and all creeks and small rivers had water. You expect that this area is in the rain shadow of the Snowy Mountains, in the prevailing westerly winds. But is proved to be the opposite: the west side was totally dry and the east side was green. Its shows once more that in Australia things are different.

We saw an inviting sign: Heidi's Austrian Tearoom, where Apfelstrudel was indicated. Of course we needed a break from Australian food and enjoyed a nice Apfelstrudel lunch at Heidi's. It tasted very good.

From the hill, where Heidi had her Konditorei, we had a nice view over the Snowy Mountains. Exactly in the middle is the Mount Kosciuszko, hardly visible, from a distance of 90 km s. Birgitt and Mariska show the northerly direction, where other mountains of the Great Dividing Range are showing.

The information centre of Snowy Hydro is extensive and complete. It gives a clear view of the planning and building of the Snowy Hydro Scheme. We had seen many fragments of it, here it came all together. Impressive were the many pictures of the water tunnels, sometimes 30 km long and as big as a tunnel for cars, 6 meter diameter. There were all nice schemes which showed how the flow was at this moment. Very interesting were the real time display which turbine was in use, how much electricity was produced and how much water was transported. Despite the drought, all but one power stations were working at full power. No energy is 'saved', when the water is there, it will be used.

A part of the exposition was the real time display of the liberalised electricity market. Priced vary per minute and the lowest production price unit gets the chance to operate at full power. All capacity is interlinked and the price is dependant on market forces. It was not made clear how competitive the Snowy Hydro was, in relation to coal fires power stations. Of course the water is free, but the infrastructure is expensive.

We stayed the caravanpark in Cooma, where a thunderstorm in the evening made a nice double rainbow.
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