The Snowy Mountains – Australia's favourite winter playground – is just a couple of hours drive from Canberra and the perfect spot for a weekend escape or longer.
While internationally renowned for its ski slopes, the Snowy Mountain area also offers year-round activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, white water rafting and fly-fishing.
Trip length from Canberra 2–3 days
Total distance 570km (354mi)
Road conditions Sealed
Segment distances: Canberra to Jindabyne – 178km (110mi), 2hrs 35mins; Jindabyne to Khancoban – 107km (66mi), 1hr 45mins; Khancoban to Canberra – 285km (177mi), 4hrs 10mins.
Suggested overnight stops: Jindabyne and surrounds.
The scenic route between Canberra and the Snowy Mountains offers a choice of interesting sights, including…
Set in the rugged beauty of the high plains, Jindabyne is a popular base for winter sports fans hitting the NSW ski fields, that are just a 30-minute drive away.
The area’s rugged beauty inspired the legendary poems and stories of the mountain horsemen, immortalised in Banjo Paterson’s The Man from Snowy River.
As well as providing easy access to skiing and snowboarding, Jindabyne is also a great base for trout and salmon fishing on Lake Jindabyne and Adaminaby’s Lake Eucumbene, as well as kayaking, white-water rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, bushwalking and helicopter joy flights around Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak.
Check out the view over Lake Jindabyne from Waste Point Lookout and don’t miss the huge statue of explorer Paul Strzelecki on the shores of Lake Jindabyne.
Perched on the edge of a lake that’s half the size of Sydney Harbour, the town offers a wide range of accommodation and restaurants to suite all budgets. While you’re there, try the specialty local produce at Dalgety’s Iona Gardens and Café.
Drive through rugged mountains and deep river valleys to the largest town in the Snowy Mountains, and also home of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme – the biggest civil engineering project ever undertaken in Australia.
Cooma is seen as the gateway to the Snowy Mountains ski fields, the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme and the Kosciuszko National Park.
Drop into the education centre to learn more about and get hands-on experience of the scheme, which ran from 1949 until 1974.
Take an easy 5km (3mi) stroll around the town’s historic streets on the Lambie Town Walk, which focuses on a total of 24 buildings and places of historic interest.
Starting at Centennial Park, the walk encompasses Lambie Street and winds past the town's churches – St Paul's Anglican, St Andrew's Uniting and St Patrick's Catholic Church – before returning to Centennial Park.
Along the way discover the Cooma Post Office designed in the ornate Italianate style by the colonial architect, James Barnet, and the elegant Cooma Court House designed in the Victorian Mannerist style and constructed out of granite gneiss in 1886.
Check out the NSW Correctional Services Gaol Museum which showcases the history of incarceration from convict times to the present day.
Exhibits include a seat used on the first fleet, which is so high that no one’s feet touch the ground – so designed to cause maximum discomfort for convicts. Then there are the stocks where convicts could be forced to stand for up to a week; the cat’o’nine tails – the vicious whip – where there is a specific model for women and another one for men; the huge ball and chain with a ball that weighs 60kg; and an exact replica of a prison cell.
Elsewhere, climb into the restored carriages of the 1924-era Cooma Monaro Railway for a fun ride from Cooma’s historic railway station to Chakola, some 19km (12mi) along the banks of the Numeralla River.
Or drive to the top of Mount Gladstone for panoramic views across the mountains and the Monaro Plains.
Go horse riding on the high plains, cast a line for trout in the streams and lakes around Cooma or admire the Tuross Falls in the Tuross River Gorge in Wadbilliga National Park.
Wadbilliga National Park – Located 37km (23mi) to the west of Cooma, the Wadbilliga National Park encompasses an area of 98,530ha of rugged mountain ranges, wide plateaux, deep river valleys, wet sclerophyll forest, heathland, bogs and pockets of rainforest.
This largely untouched wilderness area that sits between the Snowy Mountains and the coastal hinterland is home to 122 species of native birds as well as swamp wallabies, echidnae, possums, platypus, eastern grey kangaroos and wombats.
Here you can enjoy hiking, camping, birdwatching and mountain biking while exploring the national park.
Two impressive highlights of the park that are not to be missed, include…
Tuross Falls – The 35m-high falls can be seen from a viewing platform and from the Tuross Falls Walking Track.
The short 800m return trail leads to the viewing platform where you can watch the spectacular Tuross River tumble over boulders into a beautiful pool that offers a gorgeous spot where you can swim and cool down on a hot summer’s day.
The pool is surrounded by a diverse range of plant life, from dwarf she-oaks and stunted mallee formed eucalypts on the dry ridge tops, to majestic white trunked ribbon gums on the river banks.
The area is famous for its greater glider population. If you’re lucky, you might also spy the spotted-tail quoll in this area. Birdwatchers should be sure to bring their binoculars, as there is a huge diversity of birdlife here, with over 122 native species in the area.
This tranquil swimming hole has good gravel road access, as well as picnic facilities, making it a perfect spot for a day trip getaway. The Cascades camping area provides toilets, picnic and barbecue facilities.
Cascades Walking Track – The 35m-high falls can also be viewed from the 4km (2.5mi) return Cascades Walking Track, also known as the Tuross Falls walking track. The medium difficulty bushwalk features scenic views, waterfalls, picnicking opportunities and birdwatching.
The trail starts from the Cascades camping area, which provides toilets, picnic and barbecue facilities. Allow up to 2 hours 30 minutes to complete.
For sweeping mountain views and unending vistas the 108km (67mi)-long Alpine Way is a great way to discover the spectacular mountain scenery of southern Kosciuszko National Park, with magnificent walking, fishing and mountain biking options along the way.
Winding through tall mountain forests and past the dramatic western fall of the Main Range, snow-capped peaks can be seen from winter through to spring.
The Alpine Way winds through the spectacular Kosciuszko National Park linking Jindabyne and Thredbo Village with Khancoban, near the Victorian border.
Along the way climb to Dead Horse Gap, the highest point on the road at 1580m above sea level; enjoy the spectacular panorama at Scammel’s Spur Lookout; see Geehi Walls and behind them, the Indi Range.
As you drive through forests of peppermint gums, wattles, mountain gum, candlebark and eurabbie, look out for wild horses, emus and wombats.
Note: The steep, narrow and winding road between Khancoban and Thredbo is subject to rockfalls after rain. This section is not recommended for vehicles towing large caravans.
Drive the Alpine Way, the spectacular pass that winds through the mountains from Thredbo and across the Snowy Mountains to Khancoban.
Located at the south-western edge of the Snowy Mountains and Kosciuszko National Park, Khancoban serves the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Visit the interactive Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre to learn more.
Head to Olsen’s and Scammel’s Spur lookouts for panoramic views and the opportunity to spot local wildlife such as wedge-tailed eagles and lyrebirds.
Play a round of golf among kangaroos at the Khancoban Country Club, fly-fish the trout-filled streams or be adventurous and try rock climbing, abseiling or hang gliding.
Don’t miss the changing colours of the landscape in autumn at the Lady Hudson Rose Garden, established in 1959 as a tribute to the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
Explore Australia’s premier winter ski resort, dominated by the 2054m-high Mount Perisher.
Look out for the Mountain Pygmy Possum around Blue Cow, walk to the top of the Porcupine Track for great views of the region, spot alpine flowers blanketing the mountain in spring and go mountain biking and bushwalking during summer.
In winter, ride the 8.5km (5.2mi) long Skitube from Bullocks Flat to Perisher and Blue Cow, choose from more than 100km of cross-country ski tracks and ski at night under a starry ski.
Don’t miss the Celebration of Winter Festival held in June to kick off the ski season, or the Perisher Blue Spring Carnival in September, which has a range of activities including live music and art exhibitions.
In warmer months Perisher provides a tranquil base for bushwalking and mountain biking. Discover great walking tracks in the fresh mountain air, from alpine trails in the UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve to paths through summer wildflowers, snow gums and striking rock formations.
The Porcupine Walk winds from Perisher Valley Reservoir through snow grass and snow gums to The Porcupines, huge granite boulders where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Thredbo Valley and beyond.
Choose from a relaxed 4km (2.5mi) bike ride around Perisher village or take the more challenging 20km (12mi) return ride from Perisher to Charlotte Pass, where you can bike and also hike up Mount Kosciuszko. Mountain bikes can be ridden as far as Rawson Pass, where there are bike stands and from there you can walk the 1.4km (0.86mi) to Australia’s rooftop.
Take the year-round chairlift from Thredbo, followed by an easy 6km (3.7mi) trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. At 2228m, the mountain is the highest peak on the Australian mainland.
Explorer Count Paul de Strzelecki named the mountain in honour of General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom fighter. Perhaps take the 21.5km (13.35mi) circuit combining the Main Range Walk and the Summit Walk.
Along the way, cross the famous Snowy River literally and take in all four glacial lakes with dramatic views of Mount Sentinel and Watsons Crags.
The crags were formed from an outcrop of metamorphosed sedimentary rock dating back 450 million years and present a jagged contrast to the rounded granite peaks that dominate the range. Enjoy the rugged mountain scenery, the crisp mountain air and wonderful wildlife.
Discover a true year-round resort with crisp alpine air and stunning scenery, nestled at the base of Mount Crackenback.
Equally active in summer as it is in winter, Thredbo offers a range of European-style lodges with a northern hemisphere alpine appeal.
Thredbo offers 480ha of ski terrain that caters to all levels from absolute beginners to those who want it steep and deep.
Friday Flat is a dedicated beginner area, with a gentle slope ensuring learners can progress with confidence. Once you have mastered those turns you can ride Merritts Gondola – the first alpine gondola in Australia – up to the Cruiser area, which is a playground for beginners and intermediates.
Expert skiers generally take the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to tackle the longer runs including the Supertrail and black runs such as Cannonball, Bluff and Little Beauty. Karels takes you up to the highest lifted point in Australia – make sure you ring the bell when you get there. For one of the gnarliest runs at Thredbo head for Michael’s Mistake off Antons.
Away from the snow, Thredbo village offers a plethora of activities: The Thredbo Leisure Centre provides an indoor heated Olympic pool, waterslide, bouldering wall, gym and squash court as well as Mission Inflatable for kids. The Thredbo Alpine Museum is a must for its vast array of memorabilia, equipment, photos and documents that represent Australian snow sports history.
During the warmer summer months, Thredbo offers an outdoor escape of bushwalking and mountain biking trails in Kosciuszko National Park. Take the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to the start of the Kosciuszko walk, a popular day walk to Australia’s highest mountaintop, which takes four or five hours return.
The scenic chairlift will also take you and your mountain bike to the start of the thrilling Thredbo Cannonball Downhill Trail, from November to May.
Mt Kosciuszko Walks offers various guided tours, including the summit hike, as well as the more challenging Townsend Hike up Australia’s second highest peak.
Pristine waters from melting snow-caps flow each spring into the crystal-clear Thredbo River, perfect for kayaking, rafting and fly fishing.
The Thredbo River meanders from Thredbo to Lake Jindabyne and is home to a large number of trout. Classified as a Blue Ribbon stream for trout fishing, the season runs from the October long weekend until the June long weekend. Join a fly fishing guide or tour for tips and to improve your chances of a catch.
Play a round of golf on the alpine course, fly-fish for trout in the Thredbo River or mountain bike along the summer trails. And don’t miss the Thredbo Blues Festival, which rocks the resort village in January, or the Thredbo Jazz Festival in May.
Lying beneath the slopes of Mount Twynam, the picturesque ski resort village of Guthega in the Snowy Mountains. The village is linked with Perisher, Blue Cow and Smiggin Holes to form Australia's largest ski resort region.
The tree lined slopes around Guthega offer excellent intermediate ski areas during winter. The nearby Guthega Dam is the start of the legendary Snowy River and the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme.
Take photographs of the dramatic views of the Australian Alps, with spectacular snow gum woodland, alpine scenery and the Snowy River.
In winter, ride the exciting slalom Parachute Run, try the tree-lined winter ski runs suitable for all skill levels and go cross-country skiing on the many groomed runs.
The original Adaminaby, dating from the colonial period, now lies under the waters of Lake Eucumbene, which was created as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme in 1958.
However, about 100 buildings, including most of the historic landmarks, were moved to the site of the new town on higher ground.
Enjoy the crisp, fresh mountain air in winter and the wild majesty of the Kosciuszko National Park, the largest in the state and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Go horse riding, bushwalking or fly-fishing for trout in summer. Check out the Trout Festival, a major sporting tournament on the first weekend of November.
With a variety of accommodation to suit every budget, you can choose your style of holiday: from a romantic getaway in a mountain chalet with an open fire to a family break in a luxury resort tucked away in a river valley.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these hotels in Jindabyne at TripAdvisor.
Canberra – the capital city of Australia – is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280km (170mi) south-west of Sydney and 660km (410mi) north-east of Melbourne.
The city is situated near the Brindabella Ranges, approximately 150km (93mi) inland from Australia's east coast.
The most convenient route to Canberra is by air to Canberra Airport (CBR), located about 8km (5mi) from the city centre.
From some international destinations this may require first flying to Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney, followed by a connecting flight to Canberra Airport.
More information about getting to Canberra…
Latest update: Snowy Mountains: 24 June, 2021
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