When you think of Kosciuszko National Park your mind immediately goes to the mountain. The 2228m peak after which the park is named gets snow on the mind, and the fact that Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass ski resorts are within the park doesn’t help the snow-cus (snow focus…nevermind).
But did you know that Kosciuszko is so much more than just winter activities? In fact, it’s an all-year-round adventure playground.
Think kayaking down the mythical Snowy River. The best mountain biking in Australia at Thredbo. Caving at Yarrangobilly Caves. Endless hiking opportunities. Even rock climbing and road tripping! Yeah, there’s a lot more going on than the ski resorts. Here’s how to Kosciuszs-go 365 days a year.
Kayak the mighty Snowy River
Lower Snow River area
The Snowy River originates on the slopes of Mt Kosciuszko itself and flows all the way to the Pacific Ocean. There are gorges carved by thousands of years of snowmelt, rapids up to a meaty grade 3 and the untouched Byadbo Wilderness to explore. The best part? Platypus make the tranquil pools of this river their home.
A kayak adventure is the best way to explore the headwaters of this mythical stretch of river. Leaving from Cooma, Alpine River Adventures run a 5 day Byadbo wilderness expedition, as well as whitewater-focused trips and overnighters. Small eco-tour operators are experts in exploring sensitive regions and leaving a minimal impact, so you can relax and enjoy the serenity.
Pedal your Mountain Bike along the scenic Thredbo Valley Track
Thredbo’s known for its chairlift-assisted downhill runs, but incredibly, it’s also a fantastic place to get your adventure-riding kick (and strengthen your cross-country riding legs!)
The upper Thredbo Valley Track is a 16.7km (one-way) route that takes you through unique snow gum forests and over open alpine grasslands. The route crosses some stunning suspension bridges in the 3-4 hour journey, which sees you travelling from Thredbo Alpine Village to Bullocks Flat / Skitube Terminal. You’ll need to do a car shuffle or hire a transfer if you’re not planning on riding back.
Take the hassle out of organising your own Thredbo Valley Track experience with guided half-day, full-day or multi-day bike tours.
Up for more of a challenge? Opened in late 2019, a new section has been added to the iconic Thredbo Valley Track. This lower Thredbo Valley Track extension has added a whopping 18.4km below Bullocks Flat with tougher terrain through a remote part of the park. Best cycled west to east (Bullocks flat to Gaden Trout Hatchery), this section filled with high berms, rocky and steep ground is bound to test any keen adventure rider.
The lower Thredbo Valley Track is for experienced riders. It’s an easy to moderate ride before the track gets more technical and the landscape more remote. If you’re struggling it’s recommended you turn back, as there are no exit points until Gaden Trout Hatchery, located off Kosciuszko Road.
Whether you’re looking for an easy ride from the campground, or need a comfy bed and hot shower after a challenging ride. Check the bike-friendly stays available.
Keen to fish? There are many great spots to fish along the Thredbo River. Fishing season runs between the October and June long weekends in Kosciuszko National Park, you’ll need a current NSW recreational fishing licence to fish in all waters. Beginner? Let the professionals organise all your gear and teach you a thing or two.
Get underground at Yarrangobilly Caves
The northern region of Kosciuszko National Park is home to sprawling limestone cave systems that are sure to transport you to another world. Seriously. The way the stalactites and cave corals form makes the cave come alive! It’s almost as if the flowing calcium carbonate is growing before your eyes.
The best way to experience a cave system is with a guide. They’ve got the knowledge to help you totally geek out on cave science, ask questions and even learn about the Aboriginal history of the area. Hit up the Yarrangobilly Caves Visitor Centre to book tours or buy tickets to the ticketed self-guided caves.
Make it a weekend! There’s camping 20 minutes down the road, historic accommodation you can stay in and perhaps most importantly: a naturally-heated 27°C thermal pool. Bet ya didn’t know we had one of those in the Snowy Mountains!
Don’t miss out: ALL camping in NSW national parks now requires a booking.
Take A Hike
All 7 areas of Kosciuszko National Park have hiking
In a 6,900 square-kilometre national park you’d expect a few hikes. Luckily, Kosciuszko National Park absolutely delivers. A quick search results in at least 21 walks featuring a slice of everything: from Australia’s highest peak to thermal pools, gorgeous waterfalls to huge open caves.
Ranger Tip: In such a big park, it’s important to let people know you’re going and fill out a trip intention form. Keen hikers should always carry a PLB, in case of an emergency. Check for all alerts and the weather too, before you set off.
An absolute favourite is the Clarke Gorge walking track. This 5km return hike in the High Plains region is a mint example of Kosciuszko karst rock formations, and Caves Creek fills the gorge with the kind of crisp teal water that you only find in the presence of limestone.
Ranger Tip: Clarke Gorge walking track is open between the October and June long weekends, but may have to close during these times due to poor weather or fire danger.
Feeling Ropable? Climbing and abseiling in KosciuszkoView this post on Instagram
It wouldn’t be the mountains without a bit of climbing, and Kosciuszko National Park has a huge range of cliffs to scramble up and over, or abseil down. Parks Eco Pass tour operators offer everything from easy climbing on the stunning Granite Tors of the Ramshead to sport climbing at Jindabyne’s local crag. There’s even traditional climbing high above Blue Lake, for the purists!
Beginners can get their first fix of vertigo with an abseil high above Jindabyne Dam it’s not easy to get a perspective of the Snowy River quite like this one. Once you’re hooked, learn from experts who can show you the ropes, knots, harnesses and belay devices to get out there under your own steam.
Road trip along the Alpine WayView this post on Instagram
Thredbo-Perisher and Khancoban areas
A drive along the Alpine Way is fantastic for taking in the diverse landscapes and endless attractions on offer in Kosciuszko National Park. The scenic route winds from the gorgeous lakeside town of Jindabyne, past the hustle and bustle of the ski resorts and around the western faces of Australia’s highest mountains, before ending at the idyllic border town of Khancoban.
You’ll want to take your time on the winding 108km route – why not set up camp halfway at Tom Groggin campground on the banks of the Murray River? Or pitch your tent at Geehi Flats on the Swampy Plains River for a spot of fly fishing, or a sub-alpine swim, if you’re feeling brave!
Ranger Tip: Between the June and October long weekends 2WD vehicles need snow chains, snow can coat the roads at any time on the Alpine Way! Even 4WDs should carry them, just in case. Take it easy though, and you’ll be fine. Here are some tips for driving safely in the snow.