Khancoban is a picturesque village nestled in the foothills of the Australian high country. Originally established to house workers on the Snowy Hydro Scheme, Khancoban is now a tourist destination for hikers, bike riders, skiers and of course fishermen of all persuasions.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Khancoban and surrounding areas. In the township itself there are Caravan parks with cabins, onsite vans, and powered and non-powered camp sites. There are B&B's, a Motel and plenty of 'weekenders' available for rent. Prices range from a few hundred down to less than $100 a night, even less for a camp site. During my recent stay, a friend and I rented a very comfortable 3 bedroom home for less than $100 per night. These of course are low season rates, expect to pay considerably more during the Ski season, summer or Easter holiday time.
Khancoban has all the basics, service station, café, general store, Pub, a Golf Club, Tennis courts and excellent parks and play grounds for the kids. The boat ramp & parking at Khancoban pondage are good, so is bank side access for those fishermen that are shore based.
You can't put a price on it, and like most valuable commodities, it's not always easy to come by. I was very fortunate to be invited up to Khancoban by an old friend. Dave and his wife's families have all lived in the region for many years, so we were able to access places not normally visited by too many folk.
We made our way from Wodonga to Khancoban via the Nariel. Not the most direct route but Dave has some family friends with a property fronting the creek and the chance to fish a section of the Nariel that receives little angler pressure was far too good to pass up, as the photos below show!
We had to leave the Nariel's rainbows biting and head for Khancoban to get the house key from the caretaker before it got too late or we'd end up spending the night in the car!
Saturday's weather outlook didn't look too flash and the dark clouds surrounding the mountains lent some accuracy to the forecast for isolated storms. We decided not to stray too far, and launched Dave's Quintrex onto Khancoban pondage. The pondage is fed by Khancoban Creek and the Swampy Plains River, and we headed to the latter to try our luck.
The incoming Swampy flow was very clear and steady. We could see weed beds, drop offs and snags that all looked as though they should hold fish....unfortunately they didn't on this particular day. We headed out onto the lake proper to try our luck and after being frustrated by some midging fish we gave it away and headed back to plan the evening session.
Looking at the outflow from the pondage, it was evident the tailrace section of the Swampy Plains wasn't going to be an option, so Dave's suggestion of fishing Bringenbrong presented a far better prospect to tangle with some trout.
Bringenbrong Station is currently owned by one of Dave's relatives, and is one of the more historic runs in the region as the extract from a web site below illustrates:
"One of Pierce’s station managers was a stockman named Riley, who is acknowledged as the true Man from Snowy River. ‘Banjo’ Patterson was resting in Riley’s hut on the station when he learned first hand, of Riley’s ride down Leatherbarrel Mountain while trying to capture a run-away colt from Bringenbrong Station. The story of the ride stirred Patterson, who put it to verse. Since then has it been immortalised in word and film".
The Swampy Plains River runs through Bringenbrong Station so once again Dave & I had the opportunity to fish some iconic water that doesn't get much angler traffic. Arriving at our chosen spot, the fast out flow from Khancoban pondage hadn't slowed much making it impossible to wade across to where we could see fish rising consistently. A smallish brown fell for a nymph before it was removed and replaced with a #16 PHD. We waited patiently for the evening rise and as the sun disappeared tell tale rings began to appear. Evening rise fish can be notoriously difficult and these fish were no different, but we did mange a couple of small browns before darkness set in and as quickly as it started the 'rise' was over.
Heading back to Khancoban for another late night dinner we discussed the next days sojourn into Kosciusko National park.
High Country Fishing
By the time we got to Ogilvy's Creek, it was almost mid morning, but still fairly cool, the legacy of being well and truly in alpine country. Ogilvy's is true alpine water, a small serpentine stream winding it's way through tussock and stunted gums, clear, cold, narrow and only up to your thighs or waist in the deeper sections.
Rainbows were holding in the heads of pools and in close to the under cut banks. Though not large in number what were there eagerly snatched a well presented dry. After accounting for half a dozen or so feisty alpine fish we headed to Cabramurra for a quick coffee before making our way further a field. Cabramurra is Australia's highest occupied settlement, nestled in a Mountain Ash forest clearing at an elevation of 1488 metres. It started as a temporary survey camp for the Snowy Hydro Scheme, but has been retained to house workers and their support personnel servicing the Upper Tumut hydro dams and electricity supply net work.
Leaving Cabramurra we made our way down to Lobs Hole on the Yerrongbilly River. Access to Lobs hole is via Link Road then the Lobs Hole Ravine Road. It's a 13 km journey on dirt and I was surprised to see some 4 wheel drives coming up the track towards us and even more surprised to see campers still on the river. I guess no where is remote any more!
The first run we fished produced the goods, but rather than continue past an occupied camp, we decided to haul out and drive a little further up stream and find some secluded water. The decision paid off, no foot prints in the sand on the rivers edge and fish consistently hitting our offerings of nymphs, Wulffes, and Stimulators confirmed we were on some fairly pristine water. Predominately rainbows came from the heads of the pools in the faster water, but occasionally fish would surprise us and hit a well presented dry drifted along calmer, more open stretches. We caught and released over a dozen fish in the 30cm range and could have continued on to catch many more but there were more spots to try.
Dave was keen to fish 3 Mile Dam, as on previous trips to the area this relatively small water storage had really fired just on dusk. Driving back up to Link Road, it was interesting to look across the gully and see 60000 Volt power lines just below us. How they were erected in such steep country amazes me! The sun was still quite high when we got to the 3 Mile, we could see a camp site on the spit on the western side and make out the silhouette of a kayaker against the water's mirrored surface & bank side vegetation. I tied on a gold bead head black woolly bugger and began to search the edges of the lake.
The bottom was solid with large pebbles and the odd rock or two. Weed beds were within casting distance and every so often the fly would become entangled in them.
"Was that a rise" I called to Dave as a glint of sunlight caught my eye from a disturbance on the water not too far away. "Nah mate...birds", I could tell the disappointment in Dave's tone as Coots surfaced and disappeared again.
We stood knee deep at the lakes edge like sentries on duty. Rods at the ready, line stripped and coiled neatly beside us waiting for our quarry to appear. I fired a cast at a swirl off to my left, the La Fontain's sparkle pupa settled and slipped beneath the surface, another swirl but the line didn't straighten a refusal perhaps? Who knows the fish never came back, the much anticipated rise didn't occur. There are no guarantees.
It's amazing how sound travels overs water, "There's one" could be clearly heard from one of anglers on the far off southern shore line, we watched, but neither of them cast a line, nor indicate another fish rise.
A long drive back through Kosciusko National Park and another late night dinner was in front of us. Driving through the park at night does carry some risk of collision with resident wildlife, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wombats, Deer and even Feral Pigs are a possible encounter, so caution is advised, it can take a long time for a tow truck to arrive from Cooma!
This was my first trip to the 'Snowy's' and it is certainly an impressive region. Dave took the opportunity before leaving to show me a couple of the sights around Khancoban. Murray One power station is remarkable. How workers managed to chisel the facility out of mountain rock is incredible. Laying massive pipes and their huge concrete supports through the rugged terrain is a marvel of engineering and determination of the workers of the day.
Peering into the dark waters of the storage pond at Murray One it took a few seconds to register that the flashes of white was the mouth of a monster rainbow slowly cruising the edge. The fish was massive! Leaving the power station it occurred to us the fish had access to the small feeder creek, we wondered what sort of fish may be holding in it's pools and runs, we didn't have time to explore...maybe next time!
Making Khancoban the base for a trip to the snowy is a great option, magnificent water is within easy reach and there is plenty to do for non angling family too. Dave and I agreed we should make it an annual trip, next year the Geehi, the Indi or 'bidgee perhaps? The options are endless.