Hiking to the roof of Australia – Mt Kosciuszko – is an essential adventure for all Australians. The peak is relatively rounded, rather than steep, making this mountain accessible for almost anyone. And there are a few ways you can reach the top.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Ngarigo Nation, the traditional land of the Ngarigo people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- See an alpine lake that was once a glacier
- Frolic among native wildflowers
- See where the Ngarigo and other Aboriginal People have been meeting for thousands of years
- Visit Australia’s highest restaurant AND highest toilets
- Claim bragging rights to summiting Australia’s highest mountain
Three Ways to The Top
There are three main ways to amble to the top of Mt Kosciuszko. First up there’s the management trail from Charlotte Pass via Seaman’s Hut (18.6km and the least interesting route). Second, the Main Range track from Charlotte Pass (22km loop passing beautiful Blue Lake, Club Lake and Lake Albina).
But there’s a third option that leaves from Thredbo resort. It’s an achievable 13km return and includes a fun chairlift ride, views of Cootapatamba Lake and is the best option for families or if you’re trying to convince your not-so-outdoorsy friends to get into hiking.
Please note! Hiking season is November to April – a winter adventure in the mountains is a different kettle of (frozen) fish. Add this hike to you spring adventure bucket list!
Chairlift to Eagles Nest and Out of the Resort Boundary
With a chairlift pass ready to go, head to the Kosciuszko Express (or Snowgums chair if Kosciuszko is under maintenance) and enjoy a fantastic ride over the Thredbo runs, admiring the mountain bikers zooming below.
At the top you have one last chance for a snack break at Australia’s highest restaurant, Eagles Nest, before walking through the Basin ski area.
In November and December there’s still snow to be seen here, although with warming temperatures the snow drifts are smaller and shallower every year. Once you hit the bridge over Merritts Creek, you’re officially out of Thredbo territory and into the wild!
To Kosciuszko Lookout
As you wind your way up the hill, you’ll notice the river, waterfalls, boggy areas full of native heath and damp ponds surrounded by moss. Watch out for the delicate sphagnum moss as it takes a long time to recover and is an important habitat for frogs, including the critically endangered Southern Corroboree frog.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Up to the lookout and you’ll get your first glimpse of Mt Kosciuszko (it’s the kinda weedy looking round one on the left) and a few of Australia’s other highest peaks like Carruthers Peak, Etheridge Range, Mt Twynam, and North Ramshead.
Undulating Terrain to Cootapatamba Lookout
The majestic boulders you see are granite tors and are a favourite hiding place of the Bogong moth. Aboriginal people have been coming to the Snowy Mountains for thousands of years, particularly in spring to feast on the moths.
It was also a time that various groups would come together for meetings, initiations, marriages, trade, and general good times. The Snowy Mountains are mostly considered Ngarigo country although other groups like the Walgalu are also recognised.
Up the steps and you’re at Cootapatamba lookout, where you can see one of the alpine lakes. It used to be a glacier! If you have good eyes you can also spot the red Cootapatamba hut down the valley – it’s an emergency shelter hut for when ski tourers get lost, exhausted or when the weather turns nasty.
Australia’s Highest Toilets
Early spring brings out stunning wildflowers and this section is normally a field of purple and white eyebrights. You’re likely to see yellow billy buttons, silver snow daisies, alpine sunrays and more on your walk, although they start to disappear again in autumn.
Tackle the last 1.6km in a circle to the top and then reach the summit of 2,228m! A photo at the rock feature is an absolute must, as is having a spot of lunch while you enjoy the 360° views of the mountains.
At the top there’s a plaque explaining how Mt Kosciuszko got its current name. It was 1840 when the Polish explorer Paul Strzelecki ran about the hills and decided to name it after his hero General Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian freedom fighter.
Yet we know that Aboriginal people have been walking the alpine land for thousands of years, with some evidence they were visiting nearby areas 21,000 years ago.
There’s a debate about what the Aboriginal name of Mt Kosciuszko should be, with two candidates being Kunama Namadgi and Tar-gan-gil. Either way, it’s important to reflect on how ancient these mountains are and remember the original custodians that have walked the earth long before white folk arrived.
How To Get There
From Jindabyne, follow Kosciuszko Road for 3km and turn left onto the Alpine Way. Thredbo is 33km along on the right. Make sure you have a National Parks Pass or buy one on the way up. Find parking and head to Valley Terminal where the Kosciuszko Chairlift runs.
Beginner to Intermediate
This is considered a Grade 3 walk by NSW National Parks. It should take 4-5 hours return and has some short uphill sections.
The majority of the track is a raised metal walkway with the last couple of kilometres being a mix of stone and gravel.
No navigation skills required as there’s clear signage. However, due to the alpine nature of the hike, being prepared for unpredictable and harsh weather is essential.
But remember! This hike should only be attempted between November and April due to increased snow fall through the winter months.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
13km / 394m (not including chairlift ride) / 4-5 hours