At 2228 metres, Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on mainland Australia. It may not be the highest mountain in the world but it is one of the oldest. The Aboriginals called the mountain Tar-Gan-Gil. They visited the area for ceremony, socialising, sharing and trading. The mountain recieved its present name in 1840 when Polish geologist and explorer Count Paul de Strzelecki named it in honour of General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish patriot and freedom fighter. Strzelecki said the name occurred to him because he was "amongst a free people who appreciate freedom". Some 30,000 people make the trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko each year. Until 1974 it was possible to drive a car up there, today the only way to reach the top is to walk, or in winter, to ski. Most people walk from either Charlotte Pass on the Summit Walk or from Thredbo on the Kosciuszko Walk, which links up via a chairlift ride from Thredbo. The Kosciuszko Walk features a $800,000 elevated walkway made of steel mesh that lets sunlight reach the vegetation below. The hardest hike is the 21.5km circuit which combines the Main Range Walk and the Summit Walk. You will cross the famous Snowy River literally and take in all four glacial lakes. There are dramatic views of Mount Sentinel and Watsons Crags. The crags, formed from an outcrop of metamorphosed sedimentary rock dating back 450 million years, plummet off the western face of Mount Twynam. They present a jagged contrast to the rounded granite peaks that dominate the range. Depending on the weather, the gorgeous alpine wildflowers burst into colour in December, January and February. With wonderful names such as: Alpine Stackhousia, Hoary Sunray and Snow Beard Heath the delicate shades of white, yellow, purple and orange scatter the rugged landscape. The walk to Mount Kosciuszko is suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Guided tours are available from Thredbo and private operators from a one day hik to an overnight trek. If you are traveling alone just ensure you prepare properly as the mountains 'make their own weather'. Take plenty of water and waterproof clothing... and your camera!
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