It’s much colder where you guys are, so in solidarity with our family and friends as you huddle by your hearths we sought out Australia’s highest and coldest place this holiday season. We holed up in Jindabyne, in the Snowy Mountains, a town made famous in this, this, and of course this movie.

Strange weather has pursued us down the coast. We had rain and mist in Sydney, where there is no rain and mist. We had pea-soup fog in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. And then, in the sundrenched, drought-stricken Kosciuszko National Park, we got downpour of the torrential variety.

“We’re in the worst drought in recorded history,” said Dave, owner of Jindabyne’s local video store. “Of course, it doesn’t seem that way now,” as the water poured off his roof in rivers.

Happy Holidays from AustraliaThe rain continued all night. The next day, Christmas Eve – a fact of little significance to us: a strange by-product of constant travel – we hiked into Kosciuszko, which oddly enough is named for a Polish hero of the American Revolution. Mount Kosciuszko is the continent’s highest peak at 2,228 meters (about 750 feet higher than the highest mountain of the Appalachians).

Maybe it was the rain but the wildflowers in the park were especially vibrant on our little hike, a 10-km jaunt along a ridge near the peak called Dead Horse Gap, then down through a hillside of dead snow gum trees – new buds sprouting out of the hollow white husks – and along the Thredbo River for a real change of scenery. From alpine to riparian in three hours.

Moss flowers

Above the treeline the place was the most Wyoming-like of all the places we’ve visited. The flowers looked the same: lupine, gentian, buttercup, others we recognized but couldn’t name. The whole landscape seemed transplanted from the high plains of the Rockies: brown grasses and terre verte, windswept dryness; boulder fields and granite-granola pathways snaking around snow fences. Many familiar shapes and colors, and violent blasts of wind, which always remind us of the Cowboy State.

We basically came here by closing our eyes and pointing at a map. So the discovery was a particularly happy one for Lisa, who loves her beaches but will always be a mountain girl at heart. “I love it. I went to Wyoming for Christmas.” The range even shares a name with Lisa’s home mountains: The Snowies.

Snowy Mountains

More storms that night. It’s as if the wet cold we left in Auckland has caught up with us. There was even a chance of snow in Thredbo, Australia’s Aspen, on Christmas morning. We never thought we’d get a white Christmas on a continent otherwise becoming an inferno.

If you’ve heard anything about Australia in the media you’ve heard about the bushfires. They’ve been going without a lull since spring, raging all over Tasmania, Victoria and southern New South Wales. But the rain we got the night of Dec. 23-24 stopped some fires and slowed several more big ones … and saved hundreds of homes and let the firefighters go home for Christmas.

And on that note: Merry Christmas everyone!

Happy Holidays! xoxo, Lisa and Marc

Love, Lisa and Marc

P.S. Christmas crackers are a very English stocking-stuffer.