When most people think of the Snowy Mountains they’re either planning a skiing trip or to take in Thredbo’s Christmas in July for the opportunity to make their “White Christmas” dreams come true.
But the Snowies can be a fantastic destination all year round and a great option for your next family holiday or weekend getaway.
We loved experiencing all that Kosciuszko National Park has to offer and we recommend spending at least a week to appreciate this region fully. Here are our suggestions on the things you should see and do in the Snowy Mountains.
We can’t wait to hit the slopes during a winter visit, the Snowy Mountains offers great trails whether you’re a family of beginners (like us) or for the experts or somewhere in the middle.
Our family is all about creating fun-filled memories and we love to ski, snowboard, toboggan, and have fun building our own snowmen. We asked our expert friends for skiing tips, and if it’s your first time at the snow use these handy tips for starting skiing with children:
1. Invest in at least one professional ski or snowboard lesson. These people are trained and have the patience to get your kids skiing correctly.
2. Don’t push your kids beyond their comfort level. They may not want to ride the lift – don’t force them.
3. Don’t try to ski all day. They’ll become exhausted and tired and you’ll lose patience and this is when accidents happen. Take a break after lunch and go on a toboggan.
4. If you’ve got older kids, spend some time skiing separately then come together for part of the day. That way you all get to challenge yourselves and spend some time together as family.
When thinking about a ski resort we’d consider whether it has a good kids program, variety of lodging, variety of restaurant choices and close proximity of lodging to ski field?
For the best ski resorts with kids in the Snowies, here are your options:
• Thredbo – offers a great range of outdoor snow activities for families, plus an indoor 50m heated pool with waterslide.
• Perisher Blue – one of Australia’s largest family friendly resorts. It offers a wide variety of skiing runs, night skiiing and snow tube park.
• Charlotte Pass – one of NSW’s smaller ski resorts, they have a beginners’ area with snow tube park and children’s activities during the day and evening.
• Selwyn Snowfields – well known as a family favourite with exceptionally low prices.
Once the snow has melted, Thredbo’s ski runs transform into great trails for mountain biking. You can bring your own bike like we did or hire everything you need in Thredbo, and you don’t have to be a pro to take on the mountain – there’s trails for all levels of experience and our six year old was well catered for.
If you have hardcore experts in the family let them take the can take the Kosciuszko Express chairlift to the top and ride the Cannonball Downhill trail, or for the beginners there are easy valley trails like the Pipeline Trail or Thredbo Valley track. Thredbo Mountain Bike season runs roughly from November through to April.
Want to live out your “Man from Snowy River” dreams and horse ride in Australia’s historic high country? In the Snowies you can take guided trail rides from one hour up to a whole day, with some operators even offering pony rides for the kids – our six year old enjoyed being lead around the paddock. There’s possibly no more relaxing way to explore and enjoy the gentle rolling hills and fresh alpine air of the Snowy Mountains than on horseback.
Now this was a tonne of FUN even our two year old was able to enjoy. The Thredbo Bobsled is sure to bring a smile to you and your kids faces with 700 metres of luge style track, you twist and turn your way down the mountain whilst keeping control of the speed with the brake on your cart. Be prepared to line up again and again. To ride the bobsled on your own you must be 9 years of age or older and over 130cms tall. For kids under 9 you double up with either mum or dad.
Yarrangobilly is in the northern part of Mt Kosciuszko National Park and is well worth exploring. We highly recommend staying a night or more at the Yarrangobilly Caves House and exploring the surrounding area.
Do the self-guided Glory Hole Cave and the Jersey Cave, both of which contain ‘actively growing’ structures due to the presence of trickling water. The Glory Hole is ice age looking with small corridors that open up to vast caverns, whilst the Jersey is an explosion of reds, oranges and pinks and intricately designed stalagmites and stalactites.
At a 27 degree temperature year round, the nearby thermal pools are the perfect place for a refreshing swim during the summer or winter months in a beautiful setting by the river and the perfect place to have a picnic in summer.
The Yarrangobilly River Walk is an easy 3km loop road starting from Caves House. Look for platypus in the river as you can sometimes spot these shy creatures, and this walk will take you to the Glory Hole Cave which spits you out back near Caves House.
6. The Long Plain Drive
The Long Plain Drive, open after the October Labour Day for the warmer months, is a very unique Australian drive. The plains stretch for miles and along the way you can see mobs of wild brumbies, many with foals, and it feels like you’re driving through the American prairies.
Make a stop at the small babbling brook, which is actually the beginnings of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia’s 3rd biggest, then drive through small pockets of mountain ash and smoky gum forests and visit the old homesteads, the most impressive being Coolamine Homestead which offers a glimpse into isolated ranch life of the early 1900’s.
The Clarke Gorge Walk is not much further on from Coolamine Homestead, and is a 2.5 km return walk through a narrow gorge cut by Cave Creek. Spectacular limestone cliffs and cave formations on either side lead you to Cave Creek Falls.
From Yarrangobilly, take the Snowy Mountains Highway to the Kiandra – Khancoban links road, and drive through breathtaking mountain forests. You can see remainders of Kosciuszko’s gold-seeking past, as well as dams used in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.
We stopped at Khancoban for lunch before taking a couple of hours to enjoy the Alpine Way Drive, a spectacular drive that takes you through tall mountain forests and past snow capped peaks all the way to Jindabyne. It was the first time we saw snow in Australia and were totes excited!
If the weather is in your favour and your kids are old enough and experienced hikers, a climb to the top of Australia is achievable. Take the Kosciuszko Express Chair Lift to Eagles Nest and follow the boardwalk to the rounded peak. It’s a 13km return.
Alternatively, with young kids like ours you can walk the 4km return to The Lookout. This was as far as we got as the conditions were unfavourable with strong winds and low temperatures. Colourful wild flowers carpet the area during the summer time, making it that extra bit special.
Stop off at the Eagles Nest Restaurant (Australia’s highest restaurant) on the way back down and treat your kids to a gourmet hot chocolate before taking the chair lift back down.
We spent a day exploring Jindabyne, which is actually a stunningly gorgeous town by the lake, especially on the bike trail which offers beautiful views as you head north on the Kosciuszko Rd. The area also offers water activities such as kayaking or a more relaxing pace such as fishing for trout. We also recommend the Little Thredbo walk that starts at Lake Crackenback. For a longer walk combine it with the Bullocks Track walk to Thredbo Diggings. It snowed while we were on this walk – such an exciting moment to share with our kids.
For those heading to the Snowy Mountains snowfields Jindabyne can be a great place to stock up on all your skiing and snowboarding essentials, and for a very useful introduction to the Snowies drop into the Snowy Region Visitor Centre.
Why not toast to the wild brumby you just saw on the long plain drive at the fabulous Wild Brumby Distillery owned by an Austrian couple. The meal we had here was amazing – hearty mountain food – and included the best hot chocolate I think we and the kids have ever had. And for mum and dad you can top yours with some schnapps – peppermint or butterscotch anyone? It’s the perfect accompaniment to alpine living.
You can sit in the cosy interior beside the schnapps still or outside on the sunny deck – your kids will enjoy the interactive sculptures they can climb on and the expansive grounds. Located between Jindabyne and Thredbo and open all year round.
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