Snowy Mountains - Walking Australia's high country
|Walking in high country - Quick Facts|
The Snowy Mountains are 470 km south of Sydney.
Summer in Kosciuszko means warm, sunny days and clear, crisp nights. But the weather in the mountains can change quickly. Come prepared.
Home to some of the nation's best ski runs and resorts, the Snowy Mountains region is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts - but that's only half the story.
When spring touches the Snowies, the landscape responds with a breathtaking transformation. The area becomes a wonderland of bush flowers, gum forest, bubbling streams, turquoise lakes, pastures, heathland and rocky summits. If you're looking for a chance to work your walking boots in this summer, you'll find there are plenty of places to stretch your legs.
The Snowies region is huge and offers a wide range of options for walkers. From short scenic trips on easy paths that will have you back in the village where you can enjoy films, music or art classes, to hikes that might demand a week or more, you can tailor-make a holiday to suit your group or family.
The gentle end of the scale might involve basing yourself at Perisher, Thredbo, Jindabyne or Cooma, which are all central to plenty of short, varied walks and offer lots to do.
You can book with the chalets, hotels and dormitories that serve the boom crowds over winter. Most have great packages for the summer season. If you make a base and plan to head out for short trips over a weekend or more, take care to consider what kind of terrain you want to explore, as each centre offers very different experiences.
Jindabyne, on the banks of the picturesque Lake of the same name, is a modern town set in the foothills of the mountain area, with a diverse range of easy walking options. You can take day walks to the lake, stopping to try your hand at sailing, fishing or windsurfing. There are reasonably level forest and hill walks to the back of the town too - and plenty of creeks that you can track for simple, interesting walks that the kids will love.
Walkers can also travel west into the National Park, choosing from a number of trail options that are marked, mapped and happily described by the staff at the Kosciuszko National Parks & Wildlife Service in town.
Thredbo is deeper in the Snowies, and is as elegant and exciting in summer as it is in winter.
A short and rewarding day walk perfect for a family begins at the top of the Crackenback chairlift. Kosciuszko Walk, as it is named on the track, crosses Merritts Creek then traces the rocky outcrops of Rams Head Range before passing through herb fields and heath to Kosciuszko Lookout 2 km away.
There are stunning views from here. If everybody's still feeling strong you can head off for another 4.5 km that will take you across the headwaters of the Snowy River, up behind Lake Cootapatamba and eventually up to Kosciuszko's summit.
You can also take advantage of trips run by local operators, ranging from overnight stays to guided tours of popular spots like Dead Horse Gap on the Alpine Way and the Snowgums Boardwalk with views of Australia's highest peaks in all directions. Back in Thredbo you can book into art classes, go to the theatre or even try abseiling or climbing for a change of pace.
Another area to consider is Sawpit Creek, at the southern tip of Lake Jindabyne. It's a good base for trekking - the scenery is sub-alpine woodland, there are plenty of creeks and chances to see the legendary Snowy River. Walks include the Waterfall Track, starting at the Sawpit Creek picnic area, dropping under the road and tracing a creek until meeting a cascade. Tall alpine ash and huge granite boulders make for good shade and great views along the trail which is a loop of about 6 km.
You can make a longer day of it and take in three sets of falls and the creek as well as cross gum forest and grazing land by taking the Sawpit Track from the picnic area and heading for signs marked Sawpit Falls and Charlies Cascade. This 5.6 km trail is the Pallaibo Track and ends at picnic areas at the Thredbo River where walkers often arrange to be collected by car.
Contact the Snowy Mountain Region Visitor's Centre for maps, advice and a copy of their great newsletter detailing trips and events across the region. Perisher Blue and Thredbo have excellent websites that give access to more trips, trails and tours, listing local operators, accommodation deals and events calendars.
NSW National Parks can be closed at times of bushfire and bushfire danger. It is advisable to check with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service before you set off. Either phone 1300 361 967 (within NSW) or (02) 9253 4600.
The Snowies is great for a summer getaway. It's cheap coz that is their off-peak season and you can get really good accommodation for bargain prices. BUT look out for the little bugs. We stayed at a lodge with outside facilities like archery and horse riding etc...the place was fab but the millions and billions of little grasshoppers or whatever they were just kept crushing beneath our soles - poor little fellows - may they go to grasshopper heaven. Mandy, Bossley Park.
Bushwalking in the Snowy Mountains is best from late Spring (November) to early Autumn (March). During this time the weather is warmer, the plant life is at its best and the wildlife comes out to play. Ted, Wellington, NZ.
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