One of the many historical projects currently being undertaken by KHA invovles checking the the old maps of what is now Kosciuszko Park against what can still be physically seen on the ground. This process is formally know as "Ground-truthing".
Craig Doubleday has been plugging away since 2007 as a part of this effort locating signs of the original Kosciuszko road. This road was last used in 1909, 101 years ago. Below is a part of a progress report. The complete report includes photos 3 GPS data files which will hopefully be made publicly available on completion of Craig's project.
The report is an example of how, with patience and perserverance, it is still possible to locate and record old sites and tracks. Any reader interested in joining the ground truthing team is welcome to contact Graham Scully to talk over possible involvement.
Craig Doubleday's Report - Extracts
I'll discuss these (the photographs) first, as they are more interesting than a faint groove in the snowgrass.
One of my first finds was a hut site on the western edge of Boggy Plain. From memory this was shown on one of the old snow lease maps..... However on the ground there is a definite flattened area where the floor was, and some stones for the fireplace. There are pieces of lead and some timber remains hidden in the grass. Continuing west, the next point of interest is some gold workings on Little Diggers Creek. They are alluvial workings and are quite high up.
I've included the photos of a couple of typical sections of track, but one piece I must point out is a stone retaining wall located to the west of Pretty Point. It is only 40-50cm high, but is the highest structure I've found so far on the track. The wall has been built to get the road over a small depression in the track. I stumbled across this wall completely by accident late one afternoon whilst heading back to my car after a long day of searching.
Perhaps my favourite find so far is an old stone fireplace, located SE of Smiggin Holes. It's about 20m off the old road, and stands about 80cm tall. It is located near a large boulder, but I couldn't detect any traces of a structure that may have been nearby. I suspect it was merely a campsite or stopping place along the old road.
At a Botheram Plain workparty a couple of years ago Henry Willis mentioned to me that there was an old dam near Betts Camp . I've attached a photo of it. As you can see it's built of stones cemented together, and presumably would have supplied running water to the hut itself.
Finally, there are two points of interest along the new road that thousands of tourists march past each year. They are old milestones, at 2 & 3 miles from the summit.
Now, onto the road itself. As I may have mentioned to you both in the past, the track has been benched in places, whilst in boggy sections the ground has been built up. Generally the track sticks close to the crest of the range at the saddles (where the boggy ground is), but deviates around the edges of some of the smaller hills. The attached photos give you an idea of the more evident pieces of track, but I must warn you that 95% of the track is very hard to spot. Often the only way to confirm that you are on the track is to keep locating disturbance in a generally straight line; there must be countless times that I have crossed over the track at right angles without noticing its existence. Absolute confirmation of the tracks location can usually be obtained where it crosses boggy ground or small creeks, where built up sections and rocks make it visible.
Also note that as the track is quite old, some of my sightings may not be 100% reliable. For example, the section to the NE of Pretty Point I traced back in December 2007 and was quite confident of, yet in March when I rewalked this section I was struggling to find traces of it. Another section I am dubious about is some sightings I made to the west of Betts Camp, up towards the Stilwell Restaurant.
As to the future, I'd like to get a bit more of an idea as to the location of the road before doing much more searching. In particular I'd like to gain a better idea of where it went to the west of Betts Camp. Once armed with some more information it will enable targeting of some new sections of the road, and hopefully will result in more waypoints. Ultimately I would love to run a 2-3 day walk along the entire length of the road, but this can't happen until more sections have been located.
At this stage it looks unlikely that I will be able to spend more time searching for this road until early next year, so there is no rush for additional research. One item that may be very useful is if higher resolution aerial photography is publicly released for the Snowy Mountains. One of the online mapping companies (http://www.nearmap.com ) has amazingly clear imagery over Central Victoria, and I am certain that if such imagery was available for the Main Range the old road would be visible in many places. Even with the relatively poor quality of the Google Earth imagery I was able to identify a section of track west of Pretty Point, which I then confirmed on the ground.
.... Hopefully we can identify likely areas to search for the remaining sections of track. The perfectionist in me would to see the entire route accurately located before I'm willing to call this project complete.
Note by Narelle Irvine: I have been attempting to obtain (for free) high-resolution satellite imagery of the Park. I can only get 25 square kilometrers for free, and the park is about 7000 square kilometres!
Cost of decent satellite imagery over the Park would run into the thousands of dollars.
The attached PDF files are maps of the squatter's runs and homesteads from 1885 maps.
Maps for printing on A4 paper are also attached below. There is some overlap between this series of maps.
The maps are now georeferenced. When you open one in Adobe Reader, select Tools - Analysis - Geospatial Location Tool. A small box showing the latitude and longitude of the cursor position will appear.
Thanks go to David Scott for his research into the locations.