A road trip skirting the Australian mainland's tallest peak, Mt Kosciuszko, reveals a region in the middle of change.

Story + Photos Don Fuchs

Not long after writer/photographer Don Fuchs embarked on his road trip around Mt Kosciuszko, the bushfire catastrophe struck, devastating many communities and national parks along his route. Just when the region started to recover, the next blow came in the form of COVID-19 and the budding return of visitors came to a grinding halt.

“This summer has been incredibly difficult for the entire Snowy Mountains region,” says Luke Kneller, manager of  Tourism Snowy Mountains. “We lost a large section of the incredible Kosciuszko National Park and, like the rest of the world, have suffered through the economic effects of COVID.”

With travel again allowed within NSW, the region is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. “The communities of the Snowy Mountains are a resilient bunch and will bounce back better than ever,” Luke says. “We are so excited to welcome visitors back to our region and share our special and unique part of the world with them.”

While NSW is once again ready for visitors, Namadgi National Park in the ACT is still closed. This has less to do with COVID-19 but a cruel double whammy that hit the park at the end of January. On January 27, the Orroral Valley bushfire swept through Namadgi, ultimately burning about 80% of the park, 22% of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and 3350ha of surrounding properties. Significant storms and rain immediately followed the fire, causing extensive damage to Namadgi’s visitor infrastructure. A spokesman for Mick Gentleman, ACT Minister for Environment and Heritage, says work is ongoing but so far no date for the reopening of Namadgi has been announced. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #132

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2020