Snowy Mountain High
The Snowy Mountains region in South Eastern NSW is renowned as being Australia’s premier ski and snowboarding destination in the winter months, however when you investigate a little, it has more to it than most people think; it is a total year-round adventure playground!
The region is characterised by being the highest point in Australia’s Great Dividing Range with much of the region incorporated into Kosciuszko National Park. At 2,228m, Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak on the Australian mainland. The flat expanse of the Monaro High Plain to the east of the region is sheep country renowned for the quality of its Merino wool. The region therefore experiences a variety of weather conditions from snow in winter to highs of over 30 degrees Celsius in summer. Pack for all conditions though as it can snow even at Christmas!
It is hard to go past the magical winter months, where the NSW ski resorts of Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Selwyn Snowfields come to life with snow activity. Each resort caters to every age and ability level from first time visitors to the snow, to the extreme adrenalin junkies and everyone in between.
A typical winter season kick-starts in early June and runs until the end of September (sometimes they start earlier and end later, depending on the conditions). Snow conditions obviously play a big part in when is the best time to visit, but July and August are considered the peak for natural snow.Over the past ten or so years, each alpine resort has invested heavily in snowmaking infrastructure that allows them to provide a good cover of snow when Mother Nature is not delivering, so the seasons now have a bit more certainty then before. With the start of winter, each resort has an opening celebration designed to create a party atmosphere. This party atmosphere continues throughout the season – it doesn’t matter how good the snow is when there’s a party right?!
Here’s a quick run-down of each of the resorts:
The mega resort of Perisher is the biggest snow destination in the Southern Hemisphere, with 1245 hectares of terrain to explore and 47 lifts to access the four distinct resort areas: Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow, Perisher Valley and Guthega.
The Skitube Alpine Railway allows guests to catch the train from below the snow-line up to the resort without (normally) having to fit snow-chains. Perisher is popular amongst the thrill-seekers with its terrain parks and Australia’s only half-pipe, however there’s so much terrain it is suitable for all ages and ability levels.
Thredbo is known for its long runs and beautiful alpine village, that looks and feels just like a European postcard. High speed chairlifts transport guests to the top in no time at all and their beginner area is first-class. Thredbo also has excellent on-snow dining options for those who like to take in a few runs early then tuck into a long lunch afterwards. When Thredbo has top to bottom conditions, it’s hard to beat. You may also bump in to a celebrity or two during your stay!
Charlotte Pass is the home of Australia’s highest alpine village. It’s a quaint resort ideal for beginners, couples and families looking for a quiet peaceful time away from the bigger resorts. Charlotte is shaped like a big bowl, so basically all the runs funnel back to the one base area, which makes it popular for families; the parents can enjoy their time on the slopes, while the kids can go exploring with the knowledge they’ll likely be close-by at all times.
Selwyn Snowfields is a small, family-run resort best suited to beginners and families. Its gentle undulating slopes provide ideal learning conditions before progressing to more challenging terrain. Selwyn provides excellent kids’ facilities and a tube slide.
Many do not realise that the Snowy Mountains region is actually a combination of four unique areas: Cooma-Monaro, Tumbarumba, Tumut and Snowy River (Jindabyne) Shires, each with their own attractions and charms.
When the snow melts away, the region comes to life again in a different setting throughout spring, summer and autumn. Skis and snowboards give way to world-class mountain biking and road cycling, bushwalking, running and hiking, fly fishing, water sports and horse riding (like the ‘Man from Snowy River’) are enjoyed in the vastness of the mountain ranges and surrounds. There are a number of popular treks that can take those wanting to explore to the top of Australia’s highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko, and all through the magnificent Kosciuszko National Park.
With such a wealth of unique landscapes, lakes and waterways, the Snowy Mountains is the perfect natural setting for summer sports activities, adventure and eco-recreation, making it a one-stop shop for visitors of all ages looking for a fun, action-packed holiday.
But that’s not all for the adventure seekers though! The region is also home to a variety of great restaurants and cafes, excellent shopping, renowned cold climate wines, local beer and schnapps, as well as fabulous driving routes to explore that navigate their way in huge loops around the region taking in spectacular scenery, quaint villages and bustling towns.
The Snowy Mountains is also bursting with a diverse range of festivals and events during the summer period. For a bit of history, take a look at the Snowy Hydro Scheme’s education centre to discover the story behind our country’s biggest engineering feat.
Here’s a brief overview of the Snowy Mountains region:
To the south are the alpine villages of Jindabyne, Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Khancoban. Jindabyne is home to the visitors centre for Kosciuszko National Park. Mount Kosciuszko is accessible via Charlotte Pass and the Kosciuszko Express chairlift at Thredbo.
To the north is Tumut and Tumbarumba. Tumut is the perfect base for exploring the Yarrangobilly thermal pools and limestone caves. Visit Blowering Dam to see the region’s largest trout farm. For a drop of local vino, head to Tumbarumba which is establishing a good reputation as a wine-making region. Discover the fascinating history of the old gold town, Kiandra, and the famous fly-fishing town of Adaminaby is well worth a visit to see the big trout.
“Perisher is popular amongst the thrill-seekers with its terrain parks and Australia’s only half-pipe.”
Nearby Talbingo, Batlow, Adelong and the highest town in Australia, Cabramurra, are brimming with spectacular natural beauty. You’ll find everything from deep inland lakes and lush pastures to dense pine forest and snow-capped mountains.
“If the thought of tickling a trout has ever tickled your fancy, a trip to the Snowies is a must as it is New South Wales’ premier trout fishing region.”
Cooma is located around 50km north-east of Jindabyne. The area is characterised by pretty streets, highland plains and sparkling waterways and is steeped in history. Uncover the past in Nimmitabel and in Dalgety on the banks of the Snowy River. Anglers can try their luck in the streams of Bombala, also known as the Platypus capital of Australia.
If you are looking for a ‘must do’ when visiting the Snowy Mountains then horse riding is the answer. The heritage of Australia’s high plains and valleys are indelibly linked to ‘The Man From Snowy River’ and its fabled horse riding exploits. The Snowy Mountain’s history is covered with stories and adventures just waiting to be shared by local horse riding experts, many with family roots dating back well over 100 years.
Commercial horse treks through the Snowy Mountains date back to the 1940s. Now-days, most start with a hearty campfire breakfast, then saddle up and explore what is undoubtedly some of Australia’s most picturesque, inspiring and challenging countryside. At the end of the day, another campfire and wonderful bush meal awaits, the ideal setting to regale the day’s conquests.
Revel in the thrill of riding in Australia’s high country with family, friends and colleagues. Guided treks through the Snowy Mountains can be enjoyed by all ages and ability levels. Treks can last just a few hours on easy going trails or up to two days or more with wilderness rides in the far-reaches of the Kosciuszko National Park.
There’s also a world class equestrian facility with events and activities throughout the year including Equine Education, trail rides, lessons clinics and camps for both adults and children.
Novices, experts and everyone in between will find a horse riding experience in the Snowy Mountains that will leave a lifetime full of memories.
Another activity that’s becoming more and more popular across the Snowy Mountains region is mountain biking. The Snowy Mountains is the Mecca for mountain biking, there’s something for every age and ability. Discover hundreds of kilometres of mapped trails, wilderness, alpine, high plains, valleys, and forest rides to explore.
There are great rides from beginner to very technical in all four regional areas. Experienced extreme riders can feel the adrenaline rush of fast downhill trails, while those looking for a gentler trek can cruise along the many purpose-built family-friendly rides around our beautiful lakes, streams and varied high country terrain.
A highlight for any mountain bike rider is the Thredbo Valley Track (TVT). Millions of dollars have recently been spent on the TVT that runs between Thredbo, down through the Kosciuszko National Park to the superb Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa 17km away. The TVT is a great ride for all ages and can be tackled in either direction. Once you reach the bottom from Thredbo you can catch a shuttle bus back. Plans are now in progress to make the TVT run all the way into Jindabyne, some 35km of undulating high altitude terrain.
Last but not least, for those looking for a new experience, the Snowy Mountains are recognised the world over for incredible fly fishing opportunities. The Snowies offer a myriad of fishing environments ranging from alpine streams, world-renowned rivers, and lakes such as Eucumbene, Jindabyne and Khancoban Pondage. If the thought of tickling a trout has ever tickled your fancy, a trip to the Snowies is a must as it is New South Wales’ premier trout fishing region.
In spring and summer, fishing takes over as one of the mountain’s most popular activities, with trout the most sought after fish.
With expert guides willing to take you to top fishing spots and share their angling secrets, no experience is necessary. Besides, what better way to experience the tranquillity of the Snowies than from the peace of a fishing boat?
After a hard day’s adventure why not enjoy a Kosciuszko Pale Ale or a Wildbrumby Schnapps, both brewed in or near to Jindabyne?
As you can see, the Snowy Mountains comprises a multitude of destinations wrapped into one and this is just a brief insight. Take your pick from adrenalin, action or simply relax and unwind away from it all enjoying crystal clear air, pure water, brilliant sunshine and great country hospitality.
To find out much more about this magnificent region go to: www.snowymountains.com.au.
“The heritage of Australia’s high plains and valleys are indelibly linked to ‘The Man from Snowy River’ and its’ fabled horse riding exploits.”