The Mid-Winter Feast is an annual ANUMC social event combining an easy (though possibly cold and blustery) overnight high country bushwalk with a warm crackling fire, a snug high-country hut, candle light and plenty of fine food and wine being shared amongst old and new friends. The concept is simple. You gather a wonderful group of people, you load your packs with as much great food and beverage as you can carry, and you walk a short distance to a mountain hut for a party. Next day, but not too early, you walk back out again. The trip is easy and suitable for beginners.
This year the 19th annual feast that I’ve run returns to Gooandra Homestead. Dating back to 1913, this restored historic four room timber house features an excellent open fireplace which, despite the complete lack of modern insulation, keeps the cosy main room almost warm enough to forget how cold it sometimes gets outside. Nearby are the remains of an old chimney, all that remains of a small gold miners’ hut built at this site in the 1860s. The chimney is historically very significant, being the oldest standing structure in Kosciuszko National Park.
Gooandra is located less than three hours’ drive from Canberra, 15km north of Kiandra. Access is an easy 5km walking along a fire trail passed the nineteenth century gold fields of Six Mile Diggings. The route is mostly in the open and can be exposed to the weather. There is a bridge across the Eucumbene River so unlike the early years of the feast, it’s no longer necessary to wade thigh deep through the icy waters from one snow-covered bank to the other. There is also the option of a slightly longer and more scenic off-track route through sub-alpine woodland untouched by the ravages of bushfire. Brumbies are common in the area.
The location of this trip is high enough (about 1380m above sea level) to be occasionally snow bound, requiring snowshoes or skis about one year in every three to get in. On numerous other occasions it has snowed, but not enough to require the snowshoes and skis we carried. It all depends on how lucky we are with the weather.
Maps: Tantangara & Ravine 1:25,000.