If you tell someone you’re heading to the snow in NSW, the inevitable first question is ‘Perisher or Thredbo?’. For Jon, the answer’as always been Thredbo, because there’s so much to do even when there’s no snow on the ground.
I spent a lot of time in Thredbo in summer as a kid – racing mountain bikes headlong downhill at ridiculous speeds, tempered with the odd cross country race when I was feeling fit. So this year when I decided I was going to buy myself a season pass for the snow, the only real option was to get the Thredbo 365 year-round pass, dust off the MTB and get back into the mountains.
I’m a little ashamed to say it’s been a while since I rode my bike at Thredbo. So long in fact that the only trail around when I was last there was the Cannonball Downhill. An oldie but a goodie, this trail ideally requires a full-on dowhill sled to enjoy properly (along with a full-face helmet and plenty of armour!).
As I sold my DH rig long ago and am now riding a trail bike with a bit less bounce, I was fairly frothing to rip up the new (for me) trails that Thredbo has created for our riding pleasure – The Kosciuszko Flow Trail and the All Mountain Trail. Both are still accessed by riding the Kosciuszko Express chairlift up to Eagle’s Nest, but instead of chucking a U-ey straight under the chairlift, you head ’round the back of the restaurant as if to head along the Kosci walking trail, but then fang a right along the ridgeline.
All-Mountain Or Flow Trail
After cruising through some incredibly scenic granite boulder fields, the trail splits to let you get your flow on, or spend a bit more time going All Mountain. The Flow Trail has been around for a little while, and is kind of like a mini DH course. All the fun, countless berms and rollable jumps, without the savage technical sections of a DH race course. And you guessed it, the flow is sensational! The All Mountain trail does require a bit more pedalling in sections, but trust me, the majority of the 10km trail is gravity assisted. The All Mountain has a bit more variety of terrain and trail type than the Flow, but they’re both equally super fun in their own way.
If you’re keen to ride but don’t fancy screaming downhill for a shot of adrenaline, there are more options for all levels. There are a few cross country trail options running along the valley floor – explore the Golf Course or the Pipeline Loops. Or, if you’re feeling a tad more adventurous, you can jump onto the Thredbo Valley Trail (TVT) and meander 20km down the valley to Lake Crackenback. There is a paid shuttle available from Crackenback up to Thredbo, so what a lot of crafty folk do is drive down to Crackenback, shuttle back to Thredbo, grab the bikes and ride down to the car. A bit easier on the legs this way.
With Mattie along, there was always going to be a skate session involved! Luckily Thredbo has a wicked little skatepark on the village green to keep everyone happy. It’s super smooth with a couple of rails and other fun features – mellow enough for the young-uns to get their skate on, yet fun enough for the more advanced skaters who work it harder.
Nature And Wildlife Photography
The beautiful thing about Thredbo Valley is that it’s not hard to find some space to yourself and just enjoy the outdoors. Mix that with a bit of patience, and you can be rewarded with some amazing experiences – so have your camera at the ready if that’s your thing.
During our relatively short stay in the mountains (2 nights) we were spoiled by more than our fair share of wonderful, natural moments. Most of these occurred down at our campsite (more on this below).
The landscape up there – already stunning – delivered up some pretty epic treats for me and my trusty camera, including a breathtakingly clear night filled with stars, and a fiery sunrise over the misty river. As for wildlife encounters, there were plenty! Soaring eagles, dainty deer, microbats snatching insects above the river at dusk, and even a magical platypus sighting.
Two wheels not your thing? That’s cool, you’ll still find plenty of trails to explore around the mountain and the valley. Thredbo is the gateway to Mt Kosciuszko and the Main Range. Jump on the chairlift to get a cheeky boost and you’ll find Australia’s highest mountain is only 13km return. Not long enough? All good – skip the chairlift and walk up Merritts Nature Track from the Valley Terminal to warm those legs up! And, if you really want to turn your explorer dial up to 11, you can loop up to Dead Horse Gap and back down the Valley, or head along the Main Range Walk to Charlotte Pass – 32km return.
And don’t forget – the Thredbo Valley Trail is a shared use trail, so feel free to explore this trail up and down the Valley too.
So you think you’re a regular Bear Grylls and you’ll catch your own dinner? Don’t forget your fly rod and tackle box (and fishing permit of course), as Thredbo River is a stunning location to practise your technique and rustle up a fine wild trout meal. Guided lessons can be arranged for those giving it a try for the first time and after nabbing your first trout you’re sure to be hooked (see what I did there?).
Basecamp: Thredbo Diggings Campground
There’s a stack of luxe accommodation options in Thredbo Village, but that’s not really the WAE vibe is it now? Our pick was a campground I’d heard lots about but never experienced – Thredbo Diggings.
Can you believe this place is FREE? It’s got the basics in amenities – a couple of drop loos, some picnic benches and firepits. Not a powered site to be seen, but luckily I had a great little powerbank from Goal Zero to test [review to come] – highly recommended. But the location and the views… absolutely 5 star.
Guaranteed you won’t be alone at this campsite – you’ll always have some very cheeky ducks and possums to keep you company, with the odd deer or two nearby. But even if there are a few extra humans around (as there was for our visit) you can easily wander down to the river, or head a short way along the Thredbo Valley Track (which runs right past Diggings) to find your own little slice of alpine heaven. And if you really want to minimise your camping neighbours, then check out these tips for Quiet Camping.
Swimming in the river is just divine – especially after a long day of mountain biking or hiking. If you can’t go without a real shower, then duck back into Thredbo and visit the Leisure Centre to clean up, and maybe have a swim while you’re there.
Don’t forget that you’re in Kosciuszko National Park too, and that certain rules and restrictions apply. Respect the environment and the wildlife (i.e. don’t feed the ducks), leave no trace, and don’t be those guys who rocked up late on a Friday night, found the camp area full, and decided it was OK to pitch their camp down by the river in a very clearly marked ‘no camping’ zone.
I’ll definitely be heading back to Thredbo Diggings soon enough, and when I do, my van will be packed with the following gear:
- Self-sufficient camping gear – there’s no water supply except for the river, so bring your own or be prepared to purify. Car camping is totally manageable.
- Warm clothes! Even in early February we were treated to a low of 3 degrees overnight.
- Mountain bike
- Hiking gear
- Camera (plus tripod for astrophotography)
- Fly-fishing gear
How To Get There
Thredbo Diggings Campground is about 2.5hrs drive from Canberra (see Google Maps route), or 5.5hrs drive from Sydney (see Google Maps route). It’s then just a short gravel road off Alpine Way down to the river.
The campground is just beyond the Kosciuszko National Park Entry gates, so you’ll need a valid NSW Parks Pass (noting that Kosciuszko requires a separate Pass to most other NSW National Parks). You’ll need to drive another 15mins or so to get up into Thredbo Village.
Looking to link this into a bigger roadtrip? Then check out what else to do in the Snowy Mountains on the way to and from Thredbo.