The NSW Snowy Mountains are a pristine playground waiting to be explored. With Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, towering above and some of Australia’s best skiing and mountain bike trails at Thredbo and Perisher, there are endless options for adventure. As part of our partnership with Visit NSW, Ashlee and two mates traced an epic Snowy Mountains road trip.
Although a renowned winter wonderland, the Snowy Mountains are in fact an ideal road trip destination for any time of the year. With excellent hiking, glacial fishing, extreme mountain bike riding and some of the most picturesque locations Australia has to offer, the Kosciuszko region is a must-do. After 4 days on the road here, we are already planning our next trip — the entire region is mind-blowing!
On The Road To Jindabyne
Cooma is a beautiful old heritage town; the perfect place to stock up and start our radical alpine trip. We stop and picnic on local produce at Centennial Park and get ready to hit the road — mountain bound. Anticipation mounts as the road becomes windier, curving us closer to promises of high altitude adventure. We are ready to tackle the legendary Snowy Mountains.
A glimpse of snow-tipped mountains sends excitement through the roof, we’re all psyched to be cruising into Jindabyne on a cracking bluebird afternoon. A quick stop off to sample a schooner of the cold nectar of the mountains at the Kosciuszko Pale Ale Brewery seals the deal, before we get an early night in readiness for tomorrow.
Peaking At Mt Twynam
Lake Jindabyne and its surrounding lakes are renowned for some of the best trout fishing in Australia, so we cast a line and test out our luck. No bites yet, so we head into town for a feed. If, like us, you need a hand hooking one, Steve Williamson’s Fishing Adventures will help you get a fish on the line.
A sneaky skate down a winding alpine road precedes the hunt for a resting ground before our 4.00am hike up the Main Range track towards Mount Twynam. We settle down at Island Bend Campground and it’s the most spectacular camp spot I’ve ever experienced. A bloke in town tells us the stargazing is “unreal” and he’s bang on the money, the sky lights up and the Milky Way dances across the night while we set up camp. One thing is guaranteed, your dinner will taste 100% better while watching shooting stars fall out of the sky.
The alarm rings, we cruise down the road and hit the trail, traversing our way to the top of Mount Twynam as the sun rises over the majestic Alps. The light slowly consumes the stars, turning the horizon the wildest shades of orange and pink. On we trek, the rising sun warming our backs. En-route we check out the surreal Blue Lake, nestled between the mountains.
This is a beautifully scenic alpine hike complete with tranquil creeks and a crossing of the infamous Snowy River. Whether you’re a hiking nut or more into leisurely strolls, the National Park has you covered. The hiking conditions at this time of year are all time*, with beautiful clear days and enough snow to give you the true Snowy Mountains experience.
*Ashlee did this hike in early June. This hike can range from hot and exposed trekking to deep snow and strong winds, so be sure to check the conditions and prepare accordingly.
Hiking And Biking In Thredbo
We hit the road at dawn, ready to tackle Lake Crackenback’s network of mountain bike trails, speeding past frosty lakes, trout fisherman and rugged surroundings. Feeling lazy?Try an electric bike and absorb the thrill of the tracks without tiring yourself out. Lake Crackenback has something for everyone — cast a line, stroll along one of the many walking trails along the lake or stay the night in a cosy chalet.
It was time to head off for a late afternoon mission to the crème da la crème hike of the region –the Mount Kosciuszko Summit hike. We catch the chairlift up from Thredbo and wind our way up to the peak using socks as makeshift gloves. The gentle bubble of the many streams surround us as we trek our way to the highest point in Australia.
We arrive for sunset, and what a sunset it is! The colours in the sky seem to be magnified in this region and the view from the top is mind-blowing. Valleys fill with fog as the moon comes out to play and we are stoked to be the highest people in Australia. Someone mentions a pub meal and that’s all the push we need — adrenaline speeds us back in record time for recalibration and a cold one at the Thredbo Local Pub.
From Peaks To Pits — The Alpine Way To The Yarrangobilly Caves
After a massive few days of adventure we’re happy to soak in the dramatic scenery of the Alpine Way drive from the comfort of a car. This spectacular drive continues all the way down to the little town of Khancoban and is an adventure in itself with multiple walking trails, lookouts and little campsites tucked in beside untouched creeks and lakes.
After exploring the peaks of Kosciuszko it’s time to head down into the pits at the Yarrangobilly Caves. Yarrangobilly is an unexpected highlight of the trip — this ancient labyrinth is millions of years old, and with 8 tunnels to explore it’s well worth the drive.
Limestone juts into the valley as we wind our way to the magnificent Harrie Wood Cave. We descend into the depths of the rock, the shimmering cave enclosing us in its jaws of glittering stalactites and stalagmites. If you’re looking to delve further, adventure caving will see you crawling and swimming your way through the underground systems, guided by an expert team.
It’s time to cap off an amazing trip with a soak in the natural thermal pool, as mist rises through the gum trees up through the valley. What a spot to soak our weary bones and reflect on a massive adventure through the stunning Snowy Mountains.
Go On Your Own Snowy Mountains Road Trip!
There’s something so unique and uplifting about alpine areas, and the Snowy Mountains certainly deliver. Although only a short road trip away, the mountains hold a certain rawness that evokes the promise of freedom, a million miles away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Banjo Patterson’s words still resonate today, jump on the road and escape to the mountains where “the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze” — you will not regret it.
- Hiking boots
- Warm, waterproof clothes (be prepared for an alpine climate — in winter this area is covered in snow and parts of the region require an understanding of backcountry travel)
- Plenty of drinking water for hikes
- Swimming clothes
Start & End Points
Start in Cooma and end at Kosciuszko National Park. See here for more info on the Kosciuszko Alpine Way.
Distance Driven / Time Taken
4 days / Approximately 360km
Why wait? Start planning your NSW Road Trip.
All photos shot by @ainraadik
Open Road, Open Heart