Dead Horse Gap - NSW
Walk Rating: Easy to Medium. 10.5 kilometre round walk on a defined track across undulating gradient. There are some reasonably steep sections, but if you are coming from Eagles Nest, this is mainly downhill apart from the first section.
Direction: From Canberra, drive to Thredbo via Jindabyne. The car journey is around 2 hours and 30 minutes, but it is generally a little longer if you stop for coffee or refreshments. Once at Thredbo, you can either walk from the township to the top of the main chairlift, aptly named 'Eagles Nest', or do what the majority of people do -- ride the chairlift -- and commence the walk from Eagles Nest.
The Walk: After catching the chairlift to Eagles Nest, we commenced on the paved pathway that takes you on the route to Mt Kosciuszko. Instead of turning off to the right for the Kosciuszko walk, you continue on for a short distance and you will see a sign reading: "Dead Horse Gap". This directs you off to the left and after negotiating the first ski lift (at a standstill this time of year), you commence on the uphill section (Image 2). This part of the walk is typical of the high alpine environement, a harsh landscape, with an
Image 1 - After walking up a steady incline from Eagles nest, you reach the summit and the views to the south are spectacular.
Image 2 - the first part of the walk is a steady climb from Eagles Nest to just east of Ramshead South.
assortment of boulders and rock formations, weathered over millions of years. The initial uphill section takes you to the east of Ramshead South (Image 3). The views here are quite majestic, so worth pausing and taking in the surrounds (Image 4).
After admiring the views, we commenced the downhill section of the walk. This intially takes you to the first sign of trees, a prominent rcoky outcrop, which is heavily vegetated (Image 5). This is a really interesting spot, and the snow gums growing here are vibrant in their colours. It is also fascinating to look at the way the various tree branches have formed, twisted and shaped by the severe weather conditions (Image 6).
This was a popular spot with some of the other walkers we encountered, as they stopped for lunch or just to take a break in the sheltered environment that the outcrop provided. We were especially fortunate on the day of our walk as the weather was fine and the sky blue and clear, ensuring that the views seemingly went on forever.
After passing the outcrop, we recommenced on the walking track, and on the southern side of the outcrop we came across a resting area with a seat provided. This was a perfect spot for our break as not only did we have a seat, but the views to the south were simply spectaular (Image 1 and Image 7). After a short break, it was very hard to tear ourselves away and continue the walk.
From here, the track descended into more densely vegetated areas that continued to give you glimpses of the majestic surrounds. As our walk continued, we began to see the lasting impact of the 2003 fires that swept through the area. There are still large areas of trees that were so badly damaged, they will never recover (Image 8 and 9). Even after 12 years, the ferocity and destructive power of that fire and the impact on those trees was still visible. The pleasing aspect is that there are signs of recovery, with young saplings sprouting and the ground covered by an array of alpine vegetation.
As we walked further down the track, we were surrounded by thicker vegetation, with signs that wild brumbies were still active in the area. (horse manure on the ground (and on the track, so watch where you step!).
Image 3 - After the initial incline, you can see Ramshead South to your west
Image 4 - The spectacular views after completing the initial incline
Image 6 - The first of the snow gums, showing the signs of its branches twisted and shaped by the harsh conditions.
Image 5 - As you commence the downhill section, you come across a rocky outcrop with vegetation, seemingly standing alone in the harsh high alp environment
Image 7 - A seat placed conveniently to the south of the rocky outcrop
Image 8 - descending from the rocky outcrop. In the distance you cans see the fire damaged snow gums
Image 9 - These fire damaged snowgums will never recover. Gone forever
By this stage of the walk, the sun was slowly descending in the west, creating a beautifull ambient light (Image 10). The Thredbo River could be heard in the near distance, accompanying us as we continued to trek the downhill section, arriving at the Dead Horse Gap carpark (Image 11 and 12).
From this point on, it is a further four kilometres to the Thredbo Village. I would recommend that you include this section of the walk, as it ambles along through low alpine meadows, dense tree canopies, accompanied by the crystal clear flowing waters of the Thredbo River.
You will encounter an array of birdlife, but you have to be patient, and standing still for a few moments is usually enough to lure them out into the open, where you can grab a photo if your camera is at the ready (Image 13).
After criss-crossing the river (Images 14 and 15), we came to a metal boardwalk, which brought us out at the back of the Thredbo Golf Course and into the village (Image 16).
This is a great walk, and by far a more interesting and picturesque walk than that of Mt Kosciuszco. The walk provides you with such a broad diversity of landscapes, commencing with the harsh environment of the high alpine area (main range), descending through forrests of snow gums, across high-altitude meadows, along the flowing waters of the Thredbo River, lower forested areas where there is an abundance of birdlife and ending in the sleepy village of Thredbo. Although we thoroughly enjoyed this walk, we could not help ponder on what the walk couldoffer in the springtime, when the abundance of wildflowers bursts into life after the winter slumber. We all agreed that we would make a date in our calendars and return to this walk in the height of the wildflower season!
Image 10 - The afternoon sun creating a golden ambience
Images 11 (above) - the Dead Horse Gap carpark and Image 12 (left) 4 kilometres to go