Mount Kosciuszko

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Mount Kosciuszko
Sunrise views from the summit of Mount Kosciuszko, Kosciuszko National Park 56.jpg
Mount Kosciuszko summit
Highest point
Elevation 2,228 m (7,310 ft) [1] [2]
Prominence 2,228 m (7,310 ft) [1]
Isolation 1,894.26 km (1,177.04 mi) [1]
Coordinates 36°27′27″S148°15′44″E / 36.45750°S 148.26222°E / -36.45750; 148.26222 Coordinates: 36°27′27″S148°15′44″E / 36.45750°S 148.26222°E / -36.45750; 148.26222 [3]
Australia New South Wales relief location map.png
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Mount Kosciuszko
Australia relief map.jpg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Mount Kosciuszko
Mount Kosciuszko (Australia)
Parent range Main Range, Great Dividing Range
Topo map Perisher Valley
First ascent 1840 by Paweł Edmund Strzelecki (European) [1] [3] Ancient Times by Indigenous Australians
Easiest route Walk (dirt road)

Mount Kosciuszko /ˌkɒziˈʌsk/ [4] is mainland Australia's highest mountain, at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. It is located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves, in New South Wales, Australia, and is located west of Crackenback and close to Jindabyne.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Mountain A large landform that rises fairly steeply above the surrounding land over a limited area

A mountain is a large landform that rises above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges.

Main Range (Snowy Mountains) mountains in Australia

The section of the Great Dividing Range between the Ramshead Range and Dicky Cooper Bogong in the Snowy Mountains is known as the Main Range. It can also be used more generally for the peaks on or on short spurs off the range. It contains many of the highest peaks in mainland Australia. Some peaks on the Main Range include :



The mountain was named by the Polish explorer Paweł Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of Polish freedom fighter, General Tadeusz Kościuszko, [note 1] because of its perceived resemblance to the Kościuszko Mound in Kraków, Poland. [5]

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Paweł Strzelecki Polish explorer and geologist

Sir Paweł Edmund Strzelecki, also known as Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, was a Polish explorer and geologist who in 1845 also became a British subject. He is noted for his contributions to the exploration of Australia, particularly the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania as well as climbing and naming the highest mountain on the continent – Mount Kosciuszko.

Tadeusz Kościuszko Polish and American military leader

Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer, statesman, and military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He fought in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth's struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the U.S. side in the American Revolutionary War. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising.

An exploration party led by Paul Edmund Strzelecki and James Macarthur with indigenous guides Charlie Tarra and Jackey set off on what is called Strzelecki’s Southern expedition. Macarthur was seeking new pastures. Strzelecki wanted to investigate the climate, geology, paleontology and geography of NSW and to publish his findings. [6] This included identifying Australia’s highest summit, which Strzelecki reached on 12 March 1840. [7] [8]

The approach was made from Geehi valley. After climbing Hannel’s Spur, the peak currently called Mt Townsend was reached. Here Strzelecki used his instruments to make observations. He noticed that the neighbouring peak was higher. In the presence of Macarthur he named the higher summit Mt Kosciusko after the Polish and American hero fighting for freedom and equal rights. As it was late, Macarthur decided to return to camp and Strzelecki alone climbed the Kosciuszko summit.

Based on Strzelecki’s records, Australia’s highest summit was mapped. A cartographical mistake made in an edition of Victorian maps transposed Mt Kosciusko to the position of the present Mt Townsend. Later editions of the map, continued to show the original location. NSW maps did not make this mistake.

The Victorian error created confusion. In 1885, Austrian explorer Robert von Lendenfeld, guided by James M. Spencer, [9] a local pastoralist, aided by a map containing the transposition error, reached Mt Townsend believing it was Mt Kosciusko. According to Spencer, the local Aborigines called Mount Kosciusko Tar-gan-gil. Like Strzelecki, Lendenfeld also observed that the neighbouring peak was higher. He named it Mt Townsend to honour the surveyor who in 1846 traversed the peak.

Lendenfeld claimed he identified and reached the highest peak of the continent. The NSW Department of Mines discovered Lendenfeld's mistake and assigned the name Mt Townsend to the second-highest mountain of the range. Lendenfeld's announcement created further confusion, and this is why people began to believe the incorrect story that the names of the two mountains were swapped.

The confusion was straightened out in 1940 by B. T. Dowd, [10] a cartographer and historian of the NSW Lands Department. His study reaffirmed that the mountain named by Strzelecki as Mt Kosciuszko was indeed, as the NSW maps had always shown, Australia’s highest summit. When Macarthur’s field book of the historical journey was published in 1941 by C. Daley, [11] it further confirmed Dowd’s clarification. This means that Targangil, mentioned in Spencer’s 1885 article, [9] was the indigenous name of Mt Townsend, not of Mt Kosciusko. According to A.E.J. Andrews, Mt Kosciuszko had no indigenous name. [12] Detailed analysis of the mountain history can be found in books by H.P.G. Clews [13] and in the cited A.E.J. Andrews' book Kosciusko: The Mountain in History. [7]

The name of the mountain was previously spelt "Mount Kosciusko", an Anglicisation, but the spelling "Mount Kosciuszko" was officially adopted in 1997 by the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. [3] The traditional English pronunciation of Kosciuszko is /kɒzˈʌsk/ , but the pronunciation /kɒˈʃʊʃk/ is now sometimes used, [14] which is substantially closer to the Polish pronunciation [kɔɕˈt͡ɕuʂkɔ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ).

The Geographical Names Board of New South Wales, a statutory authority of the Land and Property Information division, Department of Finance and Services in the Government of New South Wales, is the official body for naming and recording details of places and geographical names in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

Aboriginal names

There are several native Aboriginal (Ngarigo) names associated with Mt Townsend, where J. Macarthur recorded in 1840 some campings of the natives. There is some confusion as to the exact sounds. These are Jagungal, Jar-gan-gil, Tar-gan-gil, Tackingal; however, all of them mean a Bogong Moth. See the cited letter by A.E.J Andrews. [12]

In 2019, "Kunama Namadgi" was submitted to the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales as a proposed dual name for Mount Kosciuszko. The proposal was submitted by the Toomaroombah Kunama Namadgi Indigenous Corporation, which states that the proposed name means "snow" and "mountain". According to Uncle John Casey, the mountain's Ngarigo name has "been Kunama Namadgi for 4,000 years, since we've been on country, until the white man came in the early 1800s and that's when they changed it". However, Iris White, the chairperson of the Southern Kosciuszko Executive Advisory Committee, disputed that account, stating "that name is not from our language. It's offensive because in some of our languages 'Kunama' actually means faeces". White said that a new name should not be given "just for the sake of it sounding Aboriginal or sounding good". [15]


The mountain was formed by geologic uplift. [16] It was not formed by any recent volcanic activity. [17] Eroded granite intrusions remain at the summit as large boulders above the more heavily eroded sedimentary rocks. [17]

Reaching the summit

Mount Kosciuszko is the highest summit in mainland Australia. Until 1977 it was possible to drive from Charlotte Pass to within a few metres of the summit, but in 1977 the road was closed to public motor vehicle access due to environmental concerns. The road is open from Charlotte Pass for walkers and cyclists for 7.6 kilometres (5 mi) [18] to Rawson Pass, at an elevation of 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) above sea level. From there a 1.4-kilometre (1 mi) walking path leads to the summit. Cyclists must leave their bicycles at a bicycle rack at Rawson Pass and continue to the summit on foot. Anyone with a modest level of fitness can walk to the top.

The peak may also be approached from Thredbo, taking 3 to 3.5 hours for a round trip. This straightforward walk starts from the top of the Thredbo Kosciuszko Express chairlift, which operates all year-round. The walking path is popular in summer, and is a mesh walkway to protect the native vegetation and prevent erosion. It is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to Rawson Pass, where it meets the track from Charlotte Pass, and from where it is a further 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) to the summit. The walk to the summit is the easiest of all the Seven Summits. [19]

Australia's highest public toilet was built at Rawson pass in 2007, [20] to cope with the more than 100,000 people visiting the mountain each summer. [21]

The third and often overlooked route up Mount Kosciuszko is up the very challenging and historic Hannel's Spur Track (15.5 km), which approaches from the NW and is the only route to pass through the Western Fall Wilderness Zone – passing through four different bio-diversity bands along the ascent. The Hannel's Spur Track is officially Australia's biggest vertical ascent of 1800m. This is the same route that explorer Paul Strzelecki climbed and 'discovered' Kosciuszko in 1840 and also the same annual route that the stockmen once brought the cattle up/down from the valley almost 2 km below to graze in the alpine meadows of Kosi throughout the summer. The various aboriginal tribes from the Murray valley also used this same route annually for millennia to access Kosciuszko to harvest the delicacies of Bogong moths that were abundant throughout the summer months and to socialise with other tribes from the coast and northern plains. The Hannel's Spur Track trailhead (sign) is about a 1.4 km hike SSE of the Geehi Rest Area on the Alpine Way road between the towns of Thredbo and Khancoban.

The peak and the surrounding areas are snow-covered in winter and spring (usually beginning in June and continuing until October or later). The road from Charlotte Pass is marked by snow poles and provides a guide for cross-country skiers, and the track from Thredbo is easily followed until covered by snow in winter.

Towards Kosciuszko from Kangaroo Ridge in winter.jpg
North Ramshead
Kosciuszko summit, obscured by clouds
Etheridge Range
Mount Clarke (Mount Townsend is behind it)
Kangaroo Ridge
Snowy River headwaters
Looking north from the summit towards Mount Townsend North from Mt Kosciusko.jpg
Looking north from the summit towards Mount Townsend


Topographic map of Mt Kosciuszko including the approaches from Charlotte Pass and Thredbo. Mt Kosciuszko map Stevage.png
Topographic map of Mt Kosciuszko including the approaches from Charlotte Pass and Thredbo.

Kosciuszko National Park is also the location of the downhill ski slopes closest to Canberra and Sydney, containing the Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, and Perisher ski resorts. Mount Kosciuszko may have been ascended by Indigenous Australians long before the first recorded ascent by Europeans.

Each year in December, an ultramarathon running race called the Coast to Kosciuszko ascends to the top of Mount Kosciuszko after starting at the coast 240 kilometres (150 mi) away. Paul Every, who is credited as being the one who thought of holding such a race, was the inaugural co-winner in 2004. [22]

Higher Australian mountains

Higher peaks exist within territory administered or claimed by Australia, but outside the continent are Mawson Peak (2,745 m or 9,006 ft) on Heard Island and Dome Argus (4,030 m or 13,220 ft), Mount McClintock (3,490 m or 11,450 ft) and Mount Menzies (3,355 m or 11,007 ft) in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Australian rock band Midnight Oil performed a song called "Kosciusko" on its 1984 album Red Sails in the Sunset , referring to the mountain. The spelling was updated to "Kosciuszko" for the group's 1997 compilation album, 20,000 Watt R.S.L.

The 1863 picture by Eugene von Guerard hanging in the National Gallery of Australia titled "Northeast view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko" is actually from Mount Townsend. [23] [24] [25]

A species of lizard, Eulamprus kosciuskoi , is named for Mount Kosciuszko. [26]

See also


  1. Kościuszko was also a national hero also in Lithuania, and Belarus, and hero of the American Revolutionary War

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  3. 1 2 3 "Mount Kosciuszko". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales . Retrieved 27 May 2015. Blue pencil.svg
  4. Kosciuszko: Reflections on YouTube
  5. "Australian Geographical Name Derivations". 8 April 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  6. Paul Edmund de Strzelecki Physical description of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land (1845). Adelaide : Libraries Board of South Australia, 1967 (Reprint)
  7. 1 2 Alan E.J. Andrews, Kosciusko: The Mountain in History, O'Connor, A.C.T, Tabletop Press, 1991, p. 50.
  8. L. Paszkowski Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki : reflections on his life. Arcadia, Australian Scholarly Publishing. Melbourne [Vic.] 1997. ISBN   1875606394
  9. 1 2 " Jas. M. Spencer The Highest Point in Australia The Sydney Morning Herald, February 18, 1885",
  10. Dowd, B.T. The Cartography of Mount Kosciusko. Royal Australian Historical Society. Journal & Proceedings, vol. 26, part I, pp. 97-107
  11. C. Daley Count Paul Strzelecki’s Ascent of Mt Kosciusko and Journey through Gippsland The Victorian Historical Magazine, vol.19, no 2, pp. 41-53, 1941
  12. 1 2 Alan E. J. Andrews, FRAHS Mount Kosciusko, Our Highest Mountain, Letters to the Editor, Published in the Kosciuszko Hut Association Newsletter No: 108 Winter 2000
  13. H.P.G. Clews Strzelecki’s Ascent of Mount Kosciuszko 1840 Australia Felix Literary Club, Melbourne 1973
  14. Yallop, Colin, ed. (2005). Macquarie Dictionary (4th ed.). Melbourne: The Macquarie Library. ISBN   1-876429-14-3.
  15. "Mount Kosciuszko and the push to give our highest peak an Indigenous dual name". ABC News. 15 June 2019. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  16. Geology Page: Geologists discover how Australia's highest mountain was created | Geology Page, accessdate: February 17, 2017
  17. 1 2 Erfurt-Cooper, Patricia (2014). Volcanic Tourist Destinations. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 273. ISBN   9783642161919 . Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  18. National Parks' 'Southern Kosciuszko walking tracks factsheet'
  19. Hamill, Mike (2014). Climbing the Seven Summits: A Comprehensive Guide to the Continents' Highest Peaks. The Mountaineers Books. p. 275. ISBN   9781594856495 . Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  20. Lewis, Daniel (6 December 2006). "Celebrating the centenary of Australia's rooftop playground". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  21. "The rush to complete Australia's highest dunny" (PDF). Department of Environment and Climate Change, NSW. 3 May 2007. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 November 2014.
  22. "Coast to Kosciuszko". Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  23. "Eugene von Guérard: North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko 1863". National Gallery of Australia. Archived from the original on 4 November 2008.
  25. "Strzelecki's Kosciusko by E. Axford". Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  26. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Kosciusko [sic]", p. 145).