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In terms of mountains worldwide, Australia’s largest is in fact, a midget. Standing only 2,228 metres, it’s around a quarter of the size of Mount Everest. As the chart below demonstrates..
Although Kosciuszko was included in the original 7 Summits list, first completed by Dick Bass in 1985, there has been a lot of debate since as to whether it should in fact, be included. It all comes down to whether you consider Australia to be a continent in its own right, or whether it is part of the more encompassing ‘Oceania’. If you prefer the latter option then Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea would be the true member of the 7 Summits. Being a circumstantial patriot, I consider Australia a continent and therefore have elected to climb Mount Kosciuszko. (The fact that it is substantially easier and cheaper had no influence on my decision..)
Polish explorer Count Pawel Edmund Strzelecki was the first to summit the peak, way back in 1840. Why isn’t it called Mt Strzelecki? Because this selfless fellow decided to name it after Polish hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a prominant figure in the American revolution. The Australian mountain supposedly looks like the sight in which General Kosciuszko was buried.
The mountain has many rare species of alpine plants, animals, and endemic flowers, which are not found anywhere else in the world. The park is also home to 40 percent of the bird species in New South Wales. UNESCO declared the Kosciuszko National Park as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997, due to the various species of flora and fauna found in this region.
The only place in the world you’ll find these little furballs. This is a Mountain Pygmy Possum and they are found solely within a 10km radius of the Mount Kosciuszko region.
The mountain was originally named Mt Townsend and the first Mount Kosciuszko was located nearby. Throughout the late 1890s and early 1900s a number of measurements showed that Mt Townsend was higher than Mount Kosciuszko. To ensure that Kosciuszko remained the name of the tallest mountain, the New South Wales government exchanged the names of the mountains in 1910. Personally, I think Mr Townsend should feel a little ripped off with that exchange..
Up until 1974 you could drive your car right up to the summit. The road was closed due to ‘environmental concerns’.