The Snowy Mountains are host to Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak in Australia, and to the only two ski stations in New South Wales: Thredbo and Perisher. Chinmay usually goes during winter to snowboard but this time, we thought we’d check out what the area looks like without its snow.
Why is visiting the Snowy Mountains in the off season a great idea?
It gets very crowded during winter, especially in Jindabyne where most hotels and other accomodations are located – however in April, we had relatively cheap fares and no traffic or congestion at all. We stayed at The Station in Jindabyne and were very satisfied. As a perk, we were able to see kangaroos feeding on the grass just a couple of meters away from the porch of our cabin every night we stayed there.
Visiting Kosciuszko National Park in autumn, spring or summer also allows you to take full advantage of its great diversity of fauna. Witnessing the different flowers, plants and colours was a treat to the eye and it would’ve all been covered in snow had we visited a couple of months later. There are also a bunch of fun activities such as mountain biking and camping which aren’t available in winter.
What are the best things to do in the Snowies?
- Out of the 7 summits of the world, climbing Mount Kosciuszko is probably the easiest and fastest. We started at around 9am and finished by 6pm. Mind you, we stopped at every corner to admire the scenery and I wouldn’t call what we did serious hiking but rather strolling. A lot of hikers overtook us and the average person would’ve probably taken a couple hours less than what it took us.
Once we reached Charlotte’s Pass, we took the Summit Walk to get to the top. It’s about 9 km long and it doesn’t get steep until the very end. The way up was scenic but not massively impressive either, we loved being in the middle of vast wild grassy expanses but we both agreed it was a little disappointing. However, as we got closer to the summit everything changed. The valleys opened up and the beautiful chain of mountains stretched as far as the eye could see.
The way back was the big, delightful surprise. We decided to take the Main Range Trail, which is about 12 km and requires a bit more stamina as it goes up and down pretty much all the way till the end. It’s well worth the effort though. Wherever you look, you will find spectacular views, beautiful lakes, rivers and gigantic rocks. Some people started with the Main Range Trail and finished with the Summit Walk but we unknowingly saved the best for last and that’s definitely the way to go!
A word of advice, empty the bottle of sunscreen on your face, wear sunglasses and most of all a hat. For some reason, we thought we were invincible and didn’t anticipate the harshness of the wind and sun. By the end of the day we both looked like a pair roasted turkeys (especially me).
- The Yarrangobilly Caves are located in the north of Kosciuszko National Park and it is a must see if you are in the area. There are three caves that you can visit of which two aren’t accessible without a tour guide.
The caves are simply magnificent. As soon as you enter, you are transported to a different world. A very narrow passageway opens up into a gigantic space filled with all kinds of fascinating stalactites and stalagmites. It is gorgeous and mesmerising. The pin drop silence can be a little intimidating and even though we were alone inside we found ourselves whispering to each other. It is also around 10 degrees celsius once inside so I was thankful I brought an extra layer.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take my tripod with me and hence was unable to capture the beauty of it with my camera. You’ll just have to go and see it for yourself!
Not far from the caves is another car park which gives access to a geothermal pool if you fancy a swim and a beautiful creek if you’d just like to dip your feet in the fresh water.
- We took a day off from physical activities and drove along the Alpine Highway which exhibits an array of beautiful sceneries. From vast planes, to forests to mountain views, there is a treasure for everyone. There are also a few camping grounds which seemed particularly well located, especially since they were surrounded by wild kangaroos. From Jindabyne it took us around 5 hours to drive to Khancoban and back, however we almost ran out of fuel towards the end since there aren’t any petrol stations along the way (we luckily made it back safe and sound).
- We regrettably did not camp at the gorgeous spot below simply because we didn’t know about it. If we had, we would’ve spent a night there for sure. I can’t imagine anything better than waking up to this view and also potentially seeing the stars reflect off the lake’s surface. The camping ground is called The Pine and is at the banks of the Tumut River. We enviously watched as people were jet skiing and sailing across it.
- Once the snow clears from the slopes of Thredbo you’re left with some of Australia’s best gravity mountain biking trails, notably the Cannonball Downhill Trail (advanced) and the Kosciuszcko Flow Trail (intermediate). Thredbo also recently introduced a third trail which is beginner friendly and offers something for the whole family – the All Mountain Trail. Although mountain biking was on our list, we were too buggered and cooked from Kosciuszko to go through with our plans – however we highly recommend it! We will hopefully be going back some time to experience the thrill of downhill mountain biking and to tick it off our list. To experience these trails properly it is recommended you own or hire a dual suspension mountain bike with at least 150mm travel in the suspension (having an angled front fork will also make for a more comfortable down hill ride). Some trails (particularly the Cannonball) require full face helmets. Thredbo has repurposed the chairlifts for summer so that bikes can be mounted onto them, making for less effort getting to the top!
Final thoughts on the Snowy Mountains…
The Snowy Mountains are definitely more than just Mount Kosciuszko and it is worth spending at least 3 days there to take full advantage of all the region has to offer – we’re certainly glad we were there for 4 days have to offer. It was the perfect place to spend time in nature and challenge ourselves. If you are lucky (which we were), you will see countless kangaroos and even wild dears or horses (called brumbies). Australia has an abundance of magnificent places, and we can’t wait to explore them all!