Charlotte Pass, New South Wales
Overlooking Charlotte Pass Village
|Location||Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, Australia|
|Nearest city||Canberra (city and major airport)
Cooma (town and airport)
Jindabyne (small town and small airport)
|Vertical||209 m (686 ft)|
|Top elevation||1,964 m (6,444 ft)|
|Base elevation||1,755 m (5,758 ft)|
|Skiable area||50 ha|
|Lift system||5 total; 1 triple chairlift, 4 surface lifts (1 T-bar, 2 platter Lifts, 1 moving carpet)|
|Terrain parks||1 small, movable|
Charlotte Pass (often referred to as Charlotte's Pass), elev. 1,837 m, is a location, ski resort and village in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. The Pass is located in the Kosciuszko National Park where the Kosciuszko Road crosses Kangaroo Ridge. Charlotte Pass Village (elev. 1,760 m) is located at the base of Kangaroo Ridge to the south east of the pass. It is the highest permanent settlement in Australia and the location of one of Australia's oldest ski resorts. Additionally, it is the coldest location in Australia, with a record low of -23.0°C (-9.4 °F) and winter temperatures which regularly drop below -10.0°C.
Charlotte Pass provides access to some of Australia's highest alpine terrain and was formerly a stop off point for public vehicular access to Mt Kosciuszko, though the road now terminates at the Pass.
The Snowy Mountains region is thought to have had Aboriginal occupation for some twenty thousand years. Large scale inter-tribal gatherings were held in the High Country during summer for collective feasting on the Bogong moth. This practice continued until around 1865. The area was first explored by Europeans in 1835, and in 1840, Edmund Strzelecki ascended Mount Kosciuszko and named it after a Polish patriot. High country stockmen followed who used the Snowy Mountains for grazing during the summer months. Banjo Paterson's famous poem The Man From Snowy River recalls this era. The cattle graziers have left a legacy of mountain huts scattered across the area. Charlotte Pass itself is named after Charlotte Adams who, in 1881, became the first European woman to climb Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest peak.
The Kosciuszko National Park in which Charlotte Pass is situated came into existence as the National Chase Snowy Mountains on 5 December 1906. In 1944 this became the Kosciuszko State Park, and then the Kosciuszko National Park in 1967.
The historic Kosciuszko Chalet was the first building at Charlotte Pass village, and was opened on 10 May 1930. The Chalet at Charlotte Pass was one of several alpine area accommodation facilities built by government in Australia, and offered an opulent life style at the time. The Chalet burnt down in August 1938, and a new Chalet was built in its place the following summer. The Chalet is still the largest and most significant building in the village, and remains the heart of the village in winter.
Skiing in Australia had begun some six decades earlier at Kiandra in the Northern Snowy Mountains, but the first Kosciuszko Chalet built at Charlotte Pass in 1930 gave relatively comfortable access to Australia's highest terrain. At 1760m, Charlotte Pass has the highest village base elevation of any Australia ski resort and can only be accessed via over-snow transport in winter. The growing number of ski enthusiasts heading to Charlotte Pass led to the establishment of a cafe at Smiggin Holes around 1939, where horse drawn sleighs would deliver skiers to be begin the arduous ski to the Kosciusko Chalet. It was the construction of the vast Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme from 1949 that really opened up the Snowy Mountains for large scale development of a ski industry and led to the establishment of nearby Thredbo and Perisher as leading Australian resorts.
Ski fields beyond Charlottes and up by Kosciusko's side were also established during this period, though their existence is now little realised. The Australian Alpine Club was founded in 1950 by Charles Anton with a view to establishing a chain of lodges for ski touring across the Australian Alps. Huts were constructed in the "Back Country" close to Mount Kosciusko, including Kunama Hut, which opened for the 1953 season. A rope tow was installed on Mount Northcote at the site and opened in 1954. The site proved excellent for speed skiing, but the hut was destroyed in an avalanche, which also killed one person, in 1956. In 1964, Australia briefly boasted the "World's Longest Chairlift", designed to carry skiers from the Thredbo Valley to Charlotte Pass, but technical difficulties soon closed the facility.
For many decades, Charlotte Pass was a stop off point on the road offering public vehicular access to Mount Kosciuszko, however the Kosciuszko Road now terminates at Charlotte Pass. The last 9 kilometres leading to Mount Kosciuszko have been closed, for environmental reasons, since 1982.
The village and resort precinct are part of the Kosciuszko National Park, and the village is leased to and operated by Charlotte Pass Village Pty Ltd (CPV); all leases are due to expire by June 2015. Apart from the Chalet, the village contains 12 commercial and club lodges, and has the capacity to hold 607 guests.
It is the oldest and highest ski resort in Australia.
The resort contains five ski lifts, one triple chairlift, one T-bar, two platter lifts and a beginner's moving carpet (which replaced a rope tow in 2008), accessing 50 hectares of skiable terrain. The highest lifted elevation is 1,964 m; the base elevation 1,755 m; giving a downhill skier's vertical of 210 m. The resort currently only lifts to part of its leased area. A small terrain park was first constructed in 2008. The resort has a few mobile snow guns to top up high traffic areas and help open difficult terrain areas earlier in the season. A list of every ski tow to ever operate at Charlotte Pass can be found at wikiski
The resort is also very popular with cross-country skiers, as the village provides immediate access to Australia's highest peaks.
The resort receives, on average, more natural snow than other Australian resorts because of its elevation. In 1981, one weather event dropped snow to the extent that the Kangaroo Ridge triple chair terminus was buried in snow, over the top of the pylon, by the cornice by up to 0.5 m. This level of snow fall is an exception.
Kosciuszko Main Range Walks
During the summer, Charlotte Pass is a base for bushwalkers with intent to walk to the top of Mount Kosciuszko and access the Main Range. The mountain is an 18 km round trip via the Summit Walk, or a 22 km loop via the post glacial Lakes Walk. A fine view of the Main Range and headwaters of the Snowy River can be seen from the Snow Gums Boardwalk at Charlotte's Pass and the walk to the summit traverses sub-alpine woodland on the Guthrie Range. Mount Kosciuszko itself is visible from the first lookout.
The Charlotte Pass to Kosciuszko walk follows the old Summit Road, which was closed to vehicles in 1976. It crosses the Snowy River at 4.5 km and then ascends gradually to Seaman's Hut (6 km), Rawson's Pass (8 km) and finally, the summit of Mount Kosciuszko.
The Charlotte Pass to Blue Lake walk crosses the Snowy River before ascending through alpine herbfields past Hedley Tarn lookout to Blue Lake lookout. The Blue Lake is one of only four cirque lakes found in mainland Australia and contains the best-developed glacial features in the Kosciuszko National Park alpine area of New South Wales. The Lake can be accessed by a 4-hour round-trip walk from Charlotte Pass.
A shorter and easier walk to the Kosciuszko summit can be accessed via Thredbo.
In winter, the area is snow-bound and can only be accessed by snowmobile from the Perisher Valley SkiTube terminal, which lies 8 kilometres to the north east, also via Jindabyne. Charlotte Pass Village Pty Ltd operates a fleet of three 18 seat 4x4 buses running on snow tracks which ferry visitors in and out of the village every half hour.
The area has not always been regarded as being easily accessible to all people. In the mid 20th century, the Chalet at Charlotte Pass was referred to as a breeding ground for snobocracy by local politician John Wesley Seiffert who by public criticism obtained a reduced bus fare to the area, thus opening the snowfields to a wider range of people.
Geography and Environment
Being an alpine area the area is subject to extremes in temperature, and is a recognised environmentally sensitive zone.
The area has been long been used as a base for environmental research, for example for plankton studies in the nearby post glacial lake Blue Lake in 1937 using a flat bottomed boat, and more recently, for example in 1997 as a heliport for studies of the mountain pygmy possum.
|Climate data for Charlotte Pass (1930-2013)|
|Record high °C (°F)||29.7
|Average high °C (°F)||17.7
|Average low °C (°F)||5.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−5.6
|Precipitation mm (inches)||126.0
Charlotte Pass has a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc) though the higher peaks have an alpine climate (ETH). It has the coldest recorded temperature in Australia (excluding Antarctic territories), of -23.0°C (-9.4 °F) on 28 June 1994.
The highest recorded temperature at Charlotte Pass is 29.7°C (85.5 °F).
Average temperatures range in summer from about 4°C to 17°C and in winter from about -6°C to 2°C.
Annual rain fall averages 2329.6 mm, with about half falling as snow between May and September, although conditions result in snow depth typically never exceeding 2.5 m to 3 m. Official snow depths are not recorded for Charlotte Pass, but are recorded by the Snowy Hydro Limited at nearby Spencers Creek (elev. 1,830 m). A typical snow depth at its peak is about 1.5 m to 2 m. Summer rain is usually in the form of thunderstorms, which, due to the area's elevation, can carry large quantities of hail, and severe hailstorms generally occur a few times each summer.
Snow falls have been recorded at all times of the year, some persisting on the ground for days even in the middle of summer. While snow falls at unexpected times can add interest to the area, they are typically associated with very severe weather events, which can also cause havoc with disastrous consequences. For example, weather patterns bringing snow falls on Boxing day and the following day in 1998 caused loss of life in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race that year.
Of major faunal significance is the endangered mountain pygmy possum (Burramys parvus), which from 1894 until 1966 was only known from the fossil record, and the threatened Broad-toothed Mouse. These small marsupials are adapted to mountain life, however most other Australian animals find it hard to survive the cold climate and heavy snow. Animals that do manage to survive in the area and are occasionally seen include Eastern Gray Kangaroos, Wombats, Platypus, Crows, Magpies, Crimson Rosellas, Flame Robins, and introduced animals such as Rabbits, Foxes and Red Deer.
Management and services
The area is subject to a wide range of government legislation and environmental plans, and, owing to the environmental sensitivity of the area, is one of the most heavily regulated areas in Australia.
Services such as garbage collection and sewage processing are the responsibility of the area's lessee.
- "Charlotte Pass". Snowy Mountains regional tourism organisation. 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Kiandra Historical Society
- http://www.kosciuskohuts.org.au/ Kosciuszko Huts Association
- "Top of Australia hosts park's centenary". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-01-16.[dead link]
- "Recreation in the Australian Alps". Department of the Environment and Heritage (Australia), Australian Alps national parks Co-operative Management Program. 2005-01-24. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Chirp Internet. "Charlotte Pass Ski Resort - Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel". Charlottepass.com.au. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- Upe, Robert; Darby, Jim; Holt, Russell; Bredow, Susan (6 June 2009). "50 reasons to love Australian snow". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Perisher Resort - Home". Perisherblue.com.au. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- "Perisher Resort - Home". Perisherblue.com.au. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- History of the Australian Alpine Club
- "Of ice and men". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 January 2009.
- [dead link]
- "NSW Wilderness Red Index - Jagungal". Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd. September 1999. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Register of leases, easements and rights of way". New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Charlotte Pass Ski Resort - About". Charlotte Pass Village. Pty Ltd. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Kosciuszko National Park: Contemporary Management". New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Riverina Environmental Education Centre. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Charlotte Pass Alpine Resort - Precinct Map" (PDF). New South Wales Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources. 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Charlotte Pass Alpine Resort Precincts" (PDF). New South Wales Department of Planning. 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "11 Years of the CCCSC Kosciuszko Tour - 1993 to 2003". Canberra Cross-Country Ski Club. 2004-08-20. Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Photograph displayed in dining room of Tar Gan Gil lodge, Charlotte Pass Village
- "Climate Education - Abundant snow seasons". Bureau of Meteorology, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- "Australian ski resorts must diversify or perish: ANU study". Australian National University. 10 June 1997. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Australian Alps National Parks - Kosciuszko and Jindabyne region". Australianalps.environment.gov.au. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- "Kosciuszko National Park - Walking | NSW National Parks". Environment.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
- "'Seiffert, John Wesley (1905 - 1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition". Australian National University. 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "National recovery plan for the Threatened Alpine Flora". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "WISENET Journal, Number 44, July 1997, Dr Isobel Bennett, AO - An oral history interview by Diana Wyndham". Women in Science Enquiry Network Inc. January 1997. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Re-assessment of burramys parvus population size and distribution of habitat in Kosciuszko National Park: 1997 Progress Report.". Australian Institute of Alpine Studies. 2 May 1998. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Charlotte Pass". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- "1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Kosciuszko National Park - Climate". New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Australian Snow Statistics". Michael Paine - Sydney Australia. 2 June 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Snow Depth Chart - 1968 to 2007" (PDF). South East Printing, Cooma. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Chart of Snow Depths". Canberra Cross-Country Ski Club. 1999. Archived from the original on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Preliminary Report on Meteorological Aspects of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race - Executive Summary". Bureau of Meteorology, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- "Significant Weather - December 2004" (PDF). Bureau of Meteorology, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- "Preliminary Report on Meteorological Aspects of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race". Bureau of Meteorology, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- "Mountain Pygmy-possum - Priority actions". New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change. 1 September 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- "Southern Exposure - Mountain Pygmy Possum". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2000. Retrieved 2008-04-30.
- Charlotte Pass Ski Resort
- Charlotte Pass - Snowy Mountains Tourism
- Directory of all 13 lifts that have operated at Charlotte Pass since 1938.
- Bushwalks from Charlotte Pass
- Ski.com.au snow report for Charlotte Pass
- OnTheSnow.com snow report for Charlotte Pass
- Jerrabomberra Lodge website