The Snowy Mountains and surrounds may be known for its snow-capped mountains and ski resorts, but that’s only part of the story. The region is alive with breathtaking landscapes, heritage, culture and wildlife that, let’s be honest, are pretty hard to appreciate when you’re whizzing past on a pair of skis.
Escaping the crowds also means a quieter and more relaxing trip (not to mention easier on the budget). Here are some lesser-known gems, which probably will make you drive further from the norm. But we reckon deserves your attention, whether you’re looking for a relaxing day out with the fam or a week of adventures.
Take a walk on the wild side*Estimate only, measurements will vary. Check the walk grade and conditions before you go. You can calculate your own personal energy burn at 8700.com.au
The High Plains area of Kosciuszko National Park is filled with deep gorges, high plains and alpine landscapes. It’s where you’ll discover spots like Blue Waterholes campground, which is a perfect base for hiking Clarke Gorge and Nichols Gorge walking tracks. Don’t forget your fishing rod – there are waterholes nearby that are brimming with trout.
Ranger Tip: High Plains area is best explored outside of the winter months as roads are not accessible and closed for the winter.
Roadie through KossieView this post on Instagram
Hop in the 4WD or kickstart the motorbike to see another side of Kosciuszko National Park on the magnificent Kosciuszko – Alpine Way drive. It travels from Jindabyne down to Khancoban near the Victorian border. There’s plenty to do, but like any road trip, you can choose your own adventure and do as little or as much as you like. The whole drive takes around 2hrs to do, but if you really want to explore you’ll need at least 3 days. There’s plenty of accommodation along the way, from ski villages to riverside camping. It’s worth taking the time to really explore this area, which is rich in history and natural beauty. Set out on bushwalks, fish in bubbling creeks, discover quaint country towns and wake up surrounded by tall mountain forests and open grassy plains.
Ranger Tip: winter adventuring in a 2WD vehicle? Don’t forget you must (it’s compulsory) carry snow chains in winter.
In the warmer months, jump on your mountain bike and ride the Thredbo Valley Track, which follows the pretty Thredbo River from the Thredbo Alpine Village to Gaden Trout Hatchery. You can ride the whole track (35.1km, one-way) in a day, or break it up and camp overnight at Thredbo Diggings or Ngarigo campground, along the way.
Did you know? Kosciuszko National Park is the largest preserved area in NSW, home to our highest mountain and recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with plants not found anywhere else on earth.
Explore heritage alpine huts
Dotted throughout Kossie are strikingly beautiful historic huts built by stockmen, prospectors, adventurers and others over the years. They’re recognised as important or significant heritage structures, and maintained by the NPWS with assistance by volunteers from the Kosciuszko Huts Association
You can visit these huts to get a sense of our European history and the hardships experienced by generations of pioneers. Many, like Long Plain Hut, Geehi Hut and Cooinbil Hut, have campgrounds nearby that you can use as a base to explore more of the park.
If you don’t want to rough it, you can stay in heritage accommodation like Currango Homestead, which was built around 1895. It runs on solar power and has no mobile reception, so you can truly switch off and experience the Snowys the way nature intended. The homestead is part of a historic complex of buildings which include Daffodil Cottage and The Pines Cottage. They’re ideal for large groups, with an outdoor fire ring that’s perfect for toasting marshmallows in the crisp country air. While you’re there, learn more about the area on a self-guided tour of the homestead and station.
Ranger Tip: The best time to visit is from October to June long weekends as the access roads to campgrounds and heritage accommodation is closed in winter.
Hike and bike in open woodlands* Estimate only, measurements will vary. Check the walk grade and conditions before you go. You can calculate your own personal energy burn at 8700.com.au
Tucked away in the northern part of Livingstone National Park, around 30km south of Wagga Wagga in Wiradjuri Country, is the Livingstone multi-use track. It’s a 4.3km loop that takes you through open woodlands full of tall cypress pines and scribbly gums.
Wander along the track at your own pace or hop on a mountain bike and explore the bushland. It’s especially pretty in spring, when the landscape is blanketed in wildflowers. The area is also known for its ancient grass trees, which have an amazing ability to survive fire and are part of a Bush Heritage project to keep native species thriving. Enjoy birdwatching? You’ll enjoy spotting the many threatened woodland birds in the national park, including turquoise and swift parrots, and scarlet and hooded robins.
Connect with Aboriginal culture
The Rock Nature Reserve – Kengal Aboriginal Place is just down the road from Wagga Wagga and named after the geological giant that soars 364m above the plains. It’s a great day trip with the family, or when you need to switch off social and get a healthy dose of nature.
While you’re there, stretch your legs on Yerong walking track. It’s kind of challenging, working your quads and calves (6km return), but well worth the effort when you reach The Rock lookout. Enjoy views of rolling farmland and the snow-capped peak of Mount Kosciuszko in the distance. Afterwards, head back to Kengal (The Rock) picnic area for a well-earned BBQ lunch.
The best way to experience this special place is on a tour with Bundji Cultural Tours. You’ll get a unique insight into the origins of the area, by learning about Aboriginal Wiradjuri culture and the significance of Kengal.