The Highest Township in Australia

The pleasure of stumbling on a planned and colour conformist town existing in the real life is an emotion only few may admit to, as I realise it may be seen as a little odd to feel affection for overly organised colour-coded homes.


This is not to say I long for the cookie-cutter houses found in Sydney's outer suburbia - there does have to be a certain aesthetic, but I can find peace in well thought out housing design and a designated town colour palette. However as we stopped the car in Cabramurra and looked around it was such a strange sight to see all harshly alpine angled roofs lined a row and I found the neat and ordered part of my heart skipping a beat. 

Driving unexpectedly through Australia's highest town is probably the best example for the shambolic and under researched trip Mark and I took to the Snowy Mountains. After we had ticked off summiting Mt Kosciuszko and finished filming for our Windfall Collection we decided on taking the scenic route home to Sydney through the back country of the Snowys. This decision mainly based on a National Parks poster we had sighted depicting a thermal pool nestled in the Australian bush at a place called Yarrangobilly.

So we set out along the Alpine Way, spirits naturally high from the euphoric feeling one often experiences from hitting the road on a trip which you've decided to extend in the name of casual exploration and adventure. We passed the quaint markers detailed on our paper map with typical Australiana bush folklore names like; Tom Groggin, Dead Horse Gap and Leatherbarrel Creek. Whole forests of dead and grey trees lined the twisted and windy road leading us to speculate what had caused this bush apocalypse (a bushfire in 2003 we later found out). 

Our high vibes soon turned into hungry ones as we searched for a picturesque spot to set up our simple lunch fare. Before we could decide however we drove into the heart of Cabramurra and promptly found ourselves lost, pulled over at a convenient lookout and we gazed confused at the uniform housing below us. A neatly positioned plaque 2m away stating that this was the highest town in Australia, presenting us with a nice feather to add our Australian travels cap.

Cabramurra proudly claims the title of Australia's highest town at 1488m above sea level and amongst other things has its own ski slope which I have been informed was the first place where you could night ski in Australia under lights (and you still can). Originally a construction camp for the workers building the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electricity Scheme, it was established in 1951 and passed through the names of Ghent's Camp and Saddle Camp before the Aboriginal name of Cabramurra stuck. These days the population numbers 364 (down from 2,000 in the golden days of the Snowy Hydro Scheme) and whilst past visitors have included The Queen and Sir David Attenborough it mostly provides a timely and unique spot for a roadside picnic.

Soon enough we found ourselves back on the road, passing by a herd of brumbies enjoying their own lunch of swamp grass. We stopped for a while to watch their antics and admire their thick coats of tonal bush browns and greys. The scene before us, looking like a descriptive paragraph pulled from childhood reading of Elaine Mitchell's novel: The Silver Brumby. Lured in by this wild horse magic, Mark grew brave enough to overcome his wariness around horses to cross the road for a closer look. Before long it started to get cold and leaving the equine scene behind us we hit the road bound for that thermal pool at Yarrangobilly.