It’s the first of a few day walks around Thredbo (I’m bushwalking while my son is mountain-biking), and I’m keen to avoid the crowds. So I’ve planned a relatively easy bushwalk out to the trig at South Rams Head, returning via the Ramshead Range – there are at least three recognised peaks along the range (and a few unnamed rocky peaks). I’m taking the easy option, with the Thredbo chairlift taking me to the start of the Kosciuszko Walk at Eagles Nest. As you walk towards Kosciuszko, the Ramshead Range is the area of rocky peaks on the left (west).
I follow the Kosciuszko Walk for a short distance, before turning onto the Dead Horse Gap Track. I’m turning off a little south of the Ramshead Range, and taking a fairly direct part to South Ramshead. Which turns out to the wrong mountain – but more on that later! (There’s a short delay, as I wait for a helicopter ferrying a basket of rocks being used for track maintenance to fly past.)
It’s very pleasant walking, with not a single other person around. Mostly it’s also easy walking, with a few streams that flow down the small gullies in the alpine meadow to negotiate.
Soon I see my first destination in sight: the jagged and rocky peak of South Rams Head. At least, based on my map I think it is. I discover weeks later when reviewing my route that my map was wrong: this peak is in fact Southerly Ramshead. South Rams Head is incorrectly located in OpenStreetMap, and many other maps like AllTrails, and is about a kilometre south of Southerly Ramshead.
Southerly Rams Head (2052m)
As I get closer to the base of the rocky Southerly Rams Head peak, I can see the trig point up ahead.
Some easy scrambling as I pick my way up through the large boulders gets me up to the top of the peak.
The Southerly Rams Head Trig stands at 2,052m above sea level, so it’s slightly higher than South Rams Head (1,951m), which is where (at the time) I thought I was.
There’s a spectacular view from the peak, with the Ramshead Range stretching to the north.
To the south is the Alpine Way Road and the Cascade Trail (part of the Australia Alpine Walking Track or AAWT), which follows the Thredbo River along the wide valley.
Rams Head (2191m)
I return the same way down from the top of Southerly Rams Head, with my next destination being the taller but less rocky Rams Head peak to the north.
I take a slightly different route, which is a little more to the west, as I head as directly as I can towards Rams Head. It’s a bit slower going – not overly challenging, but I seem to have developed a special skill of finding the swampiest sections and thickest undergrowth of the valley.
There’s also some thick clouds rolling in, replacing the blue skies I’ve been enjoying for the first couple of hours.
It’s a pretty easy walk to the top of the peak, with just a small band of boulders to navigate right below the top. Although Rams Head is the tallest of the Ramshead Range peaks – at 2,191m it’s the fourth-highest mountain in Australia – there are no views from the summit today. I wait patiently for the clouds to lift, but the best I get is a glimpse of the valley below.
North Rams Head (2177m)
I descend the opposite side of Rams Head as I head towards North Rams Head. With limited visibility I’m navigating from the topo map, as I head in a generally north-easterly direction.
As the cloud lifts a little, I finally get a glimpse of North Rams Head, which looks the most daunting of all the Ramshead Range peaks.
For a little while the mist clears up, allowing some more great views over the stark landscape.
I continue towards North Rams Head, veering a little to the west to avoid what my map shows as a few creeks and some boggy ground to the south-west of the peak.
As I reach the base of North Rams Head on the western side, the clouds have rolled back in and there’s limited visibility.
Unlike the two previous Ramshead Range peaks, getting to the top of North Rams Head requires some careful route-finding and a bit of exposed scrambling through the large boulders. Eventually I spot a tiny cairn in the distance, marking the summit.
There would no doubt be spectacular views from the top of North Rams Head on a clear day; today I only get a glimpse of the valley to the east (looking towards the Kosciuszko Walk).
Fortunately the descent from the North Rams Head is much quicker and easier on the eastern side, compared to the slightly trickier ascent on the western side.
There’s some interesting granite formations, looming out of the mist.
The rest of the Ramshead Range bushwalk is fairly easy, with the Kosciuszko Walk gradually coming into view in the distance.
I join the Kosciuszko Walk for the last part of the loop back to Eagles Nest, and the chair-lift back down to the bottom.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the misty conditions, it’s been a very enjoyable alpine walk that explores a few of Australia’s highest peaks – and avoids the “Kosciuszko crowds”. I haven’t seen a single person after leaving the Kosciuszko Walk boardwalk.
Getting to the Ramshead Ranges
The easiest way to reach the Ramshead Ranges is via the Thredbo chairlift to Eagles Nest. From the Kosciuszko Walk head off-track anywhere after the first 500m (the closest peak to the track is the North Rams Head Peak, which is about 1km from the baordwalk. Thredbo is about six hours drive (500km) south-west of Sydney.
- If you’re unsure about walking off-track, you can do this as a Private Hike (November to April).
- Bushwalk Australia – Will the real South Rams Head please stand up? – goes into some more detail about the confusion between the South Ramshead and Southerly Ramshead peaks.
- Geoscience Australia – Australia’s ten highest mountains