A summer holiday at Lake Crackenback
Mt Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
Looking for a different take on the usual snowy mountains ski vacation? Lauren Muddell takes a family summertime getaway to Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa.
From the moment we step through the doors of the secluded, mountainside retreat I can barely keep track of my nine-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter as they boomerang between the tennis courts to the heated swimming pool, from the disc golf course to the bike tracks. With adventure awaiting us at every turn, we are eager to immerse ourselves in our gorgeous natural surrounds, but with so much to do and so little time, we hardly know where to begin.
Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa
Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa is just a 15-minute drive from Jindabyne, 15 minutes from Thredbo and a 20-minute walk to the sprawling hikes and rugged countryside of Kosciuszko National Park. While the tranquil resort can be enjoyed by lazing by the lake and enjoying the magical mountain views or with a massage or beauty treatment at the onsite Spa & Wellness Centre, my family is not one to sit still for too long.
After purchasing our chairlift passes at Thredbo, up the mountain we go! It can get a little chilly once you reach the top, so make sure you take several light layers so you can add or subtract as needed, and don’t forget wet weather gear, lip balm and water. With some bad weather coming in, we are advised not to walk the entire 13-kilometre round trip to Mt Kosciusko Summit, but deciding to stay the course; we trudge on to the lookout... and are so happy we do.
The walkway weaves between streams, granite rock formations and fields of blossoming wildflowers before ending in a totally-worth-it panorama. On the way down we stop at Eagles Nest Restaurant – Australia’s highest dining experience (but more famous for its delectable hot chocolates) – and ogle the mountain bikers and bob sledders showing off beneath us.
I look forward to the kid’s legs getting a little taller and their stamina a little higher so we can trek the nine-hour Main Range Walk from Charlottes Pass and I couldn’t recommend it more for families with energetic teens.
Ready for some R&R, we escort our rumbling bellies to the resort’s signature restaurant, Cuisine, for some delicious lakefront dining. And what can I say? The food is amazing, the menu is amazing, the staff is amazing and the view... you guessed it, amazing!
My family can be a hard flock to feed due to allergies, but the restaurant caters for all needs. Offering the best gluten-free bread and pizza my kids have ever tasted, their tummies are more than satisfied to say the least. The children’s menu truly baffles my little ones, there are just so many choices, and the breakfast buffet is just as bountiful. Eggs, bacon, toast, cereal, pancakes, yoghurt, sausages, mushrooms... the kids have a field day. My son even sneaks off for seconds and thirds once he discovers the mini-chocolate muffins.
For those who believe their tucker is tastier when caught themselves, the lake is stocked twice a year with trout and fishing licenses are only $7 for three days. Alternatively, if you are in need of a little practice, guided half-day and full-day fly fishing tours are available. Learning the essential tips and tricks from Head Fly Fishing Guide and Certified Instructor Matt Tripet you will be a trout-fishing pro before you know it.
Next on the agenda is archery, so taking my daughter’s lead, I harness my inner Katniss Everdeen for a friendly game of ‘who can miss the target by the least’. Before long, the kids are bouncing away (literally) to the trampolines, pointing and giggling as the local kangaroos and ducks wander by only metres away.
A visit to Lake Crackenback isn’t complete without a paddle on Lake Crackenback, so the kids and I board our canoes and venture out for some aquatic wildlife spotting, keeping our eyes peeled for the elusive platypus. We spot no hornbills, but befriend a brood of too-cute-for-words ducklings and their mothers to my daughters delight.
If you’re travelling with teens 14 and older – and are daring enough to brave the rapids of Thredbo River – the River Sled Tour is a great adrenaline-pumping alternative. No experience is necessary as your guide teaches you the tricks of the trade from scratch, including how to read the river, how to use your sled, and most importantly, how to have a fun time!
Bursting with flora and fauna, our wildlife spotting doesn’t end when we head back to dry land. The secluded retreat is one kangaroo short of a zoo and the entire experience feels like an ongoing animal hunt, spotting wild deer, rabbits, and a mother and baby wombat. Wally the wombat, the resort mascot and Kosciuszko’s own Bigfoot, even makes an appearance.
With helmets strapped on, we jump on Australia’s highest Segway Tour and say our prayers. It soon becomes clear there’s nothing to fear; our guide, Georgia, is amazing with the kids and as she gently takes us through the motions we have no trouble operating the machines. Next thing you know we are gliding through the mountains and past the glittering alpine lake with barely a bump in the whisper-quiet road. Although the Segway Experience is for persons over 35 kilograms, the littlies don’t have to miss out, as the resort also offers a mini-tour for those with little legs.
And for the grand finale, while eating breakfast on our last morning we finally spot a long-awaited platypus playing in the lake! Who doesn’t love their coffee with a side of wildlife watching?