Oceania > Australia > New South Wales > Snowy Mountains > Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko National Park is in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales in Australia and is the largest national park in New South Wales, and is the highest in Australia. The sunburned country isn't often associated with snow, but the park offers decent enough skiing. This park is also home to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, a program which kickstarted multiculturalism in Australia.
The NSW Parks and Wildlife services districtifies park into seven sections; this article does the same, although you might find Thredbo and Perisher under different sections. The seven sections consist of: Thredbo-Perisher, Lower Snowy River, Khancoban, Selwyn, Yarrangobilly, Tumut, and the High Plains area. Since Thredbo, Perisher, and Charlotte Pass have their own articles, information that is there is not covered here to avoid duplication, although some important information is covered here. See the respective pages for specific information about those destinations.
Kosciuszko National Park covers 6,900 km2. It is 475 km south-west of Sydney.
Used by Aboriginal people for over 20,000 years, the park was a meeting point for feating on nutritious Bogong moths during the summer months. The first European to climb the mountain in 1840, Edmund Strzelecki, named the highest mountain here after a Polish-Lithuania hero called General Tadeusz Kościuszko, which explains the etymology of a name that is rather difficult to pronounce by most Australians.
The park was founded as "National Chase Snowy Mountains" in 1906, and renamed to its present name in 1944.
All of the park is mountainous, with very few flat areas. There are a couple of lakes in the park, as you'd usually get in any mountainous area.
Flora and fauna
The wildlife is rather unique given that this is a cold part of a generally very warm continent. The corroboree frog, mountain pygmy possum and dusky antechinus are located in the high reaches. There is also a significant population of wild horses.
The park has a cold Alpine climate, and the upper regions experience heavy snow for around 4 months of the year. Remnants of the snow can still be found in the spring months, but there's no new snowfall.
Visitor information centres
There are five visitor information centres in the park which may come across as unusual for many, since most parks don't even have one visitor centre.
- 1 Khancoban Visitor Centre, 2 Scammel Street, Khancoban, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-4PM (closed 12:30-1PM). On top of information you can get at this visitor information centre, this visitor information centre also sells books and maps, a worthy souvenir. It's also slightly outside the park as well, and you can purchase your pass here if needed.
- 2 Perisher Valley Office, 9914 Kosciuszko Road, Perisher Valley, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Winter (June to 1st week October): 8:30AM-4PM (closed 12:30-1PM). Summer: M-F 8:30AM-4PM (closed noon-1PM). Sa Su All day. The staff here are usually not just specialised into information about Perisher, but if you need any information with Charlotte Pass, this place generally won't hesitate to help.
- 3 Snowy Region Visitor Centre, 49 Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 8:30AM-5PM. Learn about the wildlife and indigenous culture here.
- 4 Tumut Region Visitor Centre, The Old Butter Factory, 5 Adelong Road, Tumut, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 9AM-5PM. Located in the old butter factory, this visitor information centre has visitor guides, topographical and 4WD maps as well as info regarding fire advice (anywhere in the park). Staff are known for being friendly.
- 5 Yarrangobilly Caves Visitor Centre, 50 Yarrangobilly Caves Road, Yarrangobilly, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-5PM. More specialised in cave tours, walks, but can help you with hiking in nearby areas as well (ideally, you'd have to go to the Tumut Visitor Centre to do that, but Yarrangobilly can help too).
- See also: Thredbo#Get in
There are two ways to get in the Thredbo section. The first way is a much wider, easier route through the Alpine Way at Jindabyne. This is the most commonly used route, where it has two lanes (one for each direction) instead of one shared lane. The other route, is via Khancoban, is a much harder, winding road going up from an elevation of 230m up to 1550m at its highest in Siberia. It only has one lane, meaning you have to share the lane with oncoming traffic (which is actually quite rare), and when an oncoming vehicle comes, you should slow done to 30km/h. While only 78km from Khancoban to Thredbo, and with a speed limit of 80km/h, the journey actually takes two hours, due to the extremely winding roads.
Perisher and Charlotte Pass
- See also: Perisher#Get in
There is vehicle access to Perisher Valley, Smiggins Holes and Guthega. Roads are paved and well maintained, and usually always remain open except in the most adverse weather conditions. Snow chains are required to be carried in winter by non-4WDs, even if the road is clear and the weather is fine. If they are required to be fitted, and there will be signs at the appropriate fitting bay.
There may be extensive delays on the roads between Perisher and Jindabyne at peak times, particularly between June and July, so much to the point where the traffic can come to a complete standstill in extremely poor weather. Check the weather reports and road conditions on the web, or tune in with the radio if you are coming from Jindabyne, and consider the Ski Tube as an alternative if the traffic reports are bad.
Follow the signs and the Kosciuszko Road to Perisher from Jindabyne. Guthega turn is signposted to the right, and Smiggins is on the Perisher Road a few kilometres before Perisher Valley. The road is well signposted, and it's better to follow street signs as sometimes your GPS may not work.
The road to Charlotte Pass is closed during the ski season, and the only access is by oversnow transport from Perisher Valley. The road is closed to non-residents regardless of whether it is snow covered or clear, because the problems with trying to leave when snow covers the road. You can't park at Perisher overnight, so this really means that you have to park at the Ski-Tube at Bullocks Flat, get the Ski Tube to Perisher, and oversnow to Charlotte Pass. It is no surprise that you can leave much of the ski crowds behind by the time you arrive. It is possible to go for the day, and park at Perisher, but it is unusual to do so during winter.
During summer it is a pleasant drive beyond Perisher Valley to Charlotte Pass. It can still snow occasionally, even outside of the main ski season, but its still cold.
Yarrangobilly is quite far isolated, with car being the only option to get in, via the long winding Snowy Mountains Highway. From Tumut, head east and up the Great Diving Range on the Cooma, also head west for 1.5 hours, and head up the winding Snowy Mountains Highway and turn onto Yarrangobilly Caves Road. From the turnoff, Yarrangobilly Caves Road is just a single one lane road (one way), winding through down to the town for about 5km, until you're there at Yarrangobilly.and head for about an hour, and then turn onto Yarrangobilly Caves Road. Getting here is well signposted though, so the chances of getting lost is very rare. From
Fees and permits
For cars, from the start of June long weekend to end of October long weekend, its $29 per vehicle per day for every 24 hours. At other times of the year, the fees are $17 per day for every 24 hours. This fee is mandatory when going to Thredbo/Perisher, as well as Khancoban and Selwyn. The fees to the other sections of the park are listed below.
If you choose to come from Jindabyne, there is a gate where you can pay and go without leaving your car. However, if you come from Khancoban, you must stop at Thredbo and pay at the NSW Parks office. Not doing this is toll evasion and can lead you into hefty fines.
There is also a $4 per vehicle per day applies at Yarrangobilly Caves for those without a Kosciuszko National Park day pass or NSW Parks annual pass. If you're coming just here, you do not need to purchase a Kosciuszko pass. But if you've already paid for a Kosciuszko Parks pass, you won't need to pay $4.
Do note though that there is no park entry fees apply in the Lower Snowy River, High Plains and the Tumut area.
The park boasts its own electric railway. The Skitube Alpine Railway was built (as its name suggests) primary for skiers moving between 6 Bullocks Flat (with road access and parking) and the ski resorts of 7 Perisher Valley and 8 Blue Cow Mountain.
Otherwise, if you're coming by car, then the Alpine Way runs right throughout the park. The section between Jindabyne and Thredbo is quite a good road, but once you go further up, it's a one lane shared road. All vehicles must use chains from Thredbo to Khancoban, with only 4WDs exempt from this. Also, small 4WDs like a Kluger won't make it without chains during snow, so you need a proper 4WD to properly go here in the snow.
- 1 Mount Kosciuszko. Tallest mountain in mainland Oceania, and featured as such on the original Seven Summits list. As climbing the Kosciuszko is a rather trivial challenge compared to the other continental summits, the Puncak Jaya on New Guinea is a taller and more challenging peak in Oceania, although the fact that Puncak Jaya is in Indonesia has always led to the question on what's the seventh summit. However, the walking track to the summit is always open, and is doable.
- 2 Blue Lake, Blue Lake Walk. A stunning glacial lake that can be reached by a trail through the unique Aussie eucalyptus trees and alpine meadows with flora seen nowhere else.
- 3 Charlotte Pass lookout, Kosciuszko Rd, Charlotte Pass (At the very northern end of Snow Gums Boardwalk. There's no certain address to this place, and this place is easily accessible via Charlotte Pass (although the road is closed in winter, but the ski tube will do)). Enjoy the fine views, just before the rigorous summit walk upcoming. Snow can be seen here in the colder six months, but even in the warmer six months, there's no denying the views here.
- 4 Thredbo Community Bell, Thredbo. Australia's highest bell at 2037m in elevation. Only about 200m in altitude till the peak of the mountain.
- 5 Seamans Hut, Summit Road.
- 6 Bullocks Hut, Ski tube way, Crakenback.
- 7 Kosciuszko Education Centre, Kosciuszko Rd, Jindabyne. 8:30AM-5PM.
- 8 Snowy Mountains Cinema, 49 Kosciuszko Rd, Jindabyne.
Kosciuszko walk lookouts
- 9 Kosciuszko lookout.
- 10 Cootapatamba lookout.
- 11 Mount Kosciuszko summit lookout, Summit Walk, Kosciuszko. This lookout overlooks everything below. Once you get here, you're on the highest point on the Australian mainland. It's quite a trek out to get here, but the views are worth the long trek, and is well earned. And although this track is rather easy to do when compared to other mountains given the low altitude, height does not define natural beauty.
Lower Snowy River area
- 12 Wallace Craigie lookout, Barry Way, Ingebirah. This lookout gives some phenomenal views of not just the Snowy River, but also the mountains at an elevation of 694m. Bring your camera here if you're an avid photographer.
- 13 Jacks lookout, Barry Way, Ingebirah. One of the few lookouts in the park that gives you a view of the Snowy River all year around, but also gives some views of the southern areas of the Australian alps. If you're lucky enough, you may as well see roos, wallabies and emus.
- 14 Olsens lookout, Olsens Lookout Rd, Geehi. This lookout gives a unique view of the western fall of Main Range and the ash forests here. Do be aware though, that the lyrebird can mimic your voice here, but they generally don't do any harm.
- 15 Scammells Ridge lookout, slightly off Alpine Way, Geehi (Turn off where there's a sign that says "Scammel Spur Lookout" (other signs say "Scammells Ridge lookout", but they both are the same)). A scenic spot off Alpine Way, perched at an altitude of 1000m, it's just another classic case of why mountains are something you can never get tired of seeing. Oh and these summits get snow-capped as well.
- 17 North Glory Cave, Castle Walk, Yarrangobilly, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This tour takes about 1.5 hours to do, and both start and end at North Glory Cave entrance. Just like the other caves, this cave is also about 10° all year around, so being some jackets with you. At times, this cave is described as being "the underworld of Kosciuszko National Park" including places like Smugglers Passage, or Helictite Chamber which has some jaw dropping crystal formations, and Devils Kitchen, with its trove of stunning calcite crystals. $26 per adult. $20 per concession (includes school children), and $78 per family (2 adults and 2 children).
- 18 South Glory Cave, Castle Walk, Yarrangobilly, ☏ . 9:30AM-4PM. The South Glory Cave was first explored by Europeans in 1834, and anyone who does this walk will just be lost for words when you notice the large amount of limestone chambers, decorations and rock piles. This cave can be explored via a self guided tour, and takes around 45 minutes to do, which include information signs along the way, and sensor lights. Before you do this walk, be prepared for the cold temperatures, as it's about 10°C all year around, and bring a jacket or two if you're doing this walk.
- 19 Jersey Cave, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This cave is one of the most colourful caves in Australia, having formed over a long long period of 1.5 million years. Similar precautions apply to this cave as the other caves in Yarrangobilly. $26 per adult, $22 per concession (inc. school age children), $82 per family (2 adults and 2 children), Children under 5 free.
- 20 Jillabenan Cave.
- 21 Black Perry lookout, Snowy Mountains Highway, Talbingo.
- 22 Landers Falls lookout walk, Landers Falls Walking Track, Pinbeyan. Looking down the valleys and mountains of the Snowies, but also gives views of the Landers Creek Falls.
High Plains area
- 23 Coolamine Homestead, Blue Waterholes Trail, Cooleman. Coolamine Homestead features some historic buildings built in the 19th century, where you can learn about how life was here in the 19th century, in a remote, rural desolate spot. There are also some old newspapers here as well, well preserved.
Thredbo and Perisher
The biggest things in Thredbo and Perisher are skiing, and although it is within the park, information regarding skiing in Thredbo and Perisher can be found at their relative pages of Thredbo and Perisher. This section only covers things in Thredbo and Perisher that are not skiing, merely to avoid duplication.
- Kosciuszko walk - Thredbo to Mount Kosciuszko.
- Mount Kosciuszko Summit walk.
- Main Range walk.
- Thredbo River track.
- Pallaibo walking track.
- Sawpit walking track.
- Dead Horse Gap walking track.
- Rainbow Lake walking track.
- Waterfall walking track.
- Bullocks track.
- Illawong walk.
- Mount Stilwell walk.
- Porcupine walk.
- Snow Gums boardwalk.
- Rennix walking track.
- Yarrangobilly River walk.
- Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool.
- Castle Cave walk.
- Bluff lookout walk.
- Glory Farm walk.
- Buddong Falls walking track.
- Landers Falls lookout walk.
- Blowering Cliffs walking track.
- Old Mountain Road walking track.
The Alpine Way was created around 1950 as part of the approach to the Snowy Mountains System. However, it was not asphalted until the 1990s.
The road connects Jindabyne in the east to the New South Wales/Victorian border in the west, crossing the Murray River, near Bringenbrong/Upper Towong, connecting a vast majority of the Snowies, with the only major towns in the Snowy Mountains not part of the route is Perisher and Charlotte Pass. But otherwise, the two-lane road is very curvy and offers great views of the highest mountains in Australia, the most famous ski areas on the continent and the Murray Gorge.
Although the road doesn't have much historical significance, it certainly has a lot of tourist significance, and the only way you could get to the top of Mt. Kosciuszko.
If you're going up, or have just come down, Khancoban will be an important stop. For those going up, regardless of what season it is, you'd want to fill up here because the next point of civilization is only in Thredbo, a 2-hour drive up. There are some cafes and accommodation here, if you want to take a break before going up. There is also Alpine diesel available here as well.
If you're coming down from Thredbo, you're in luck, since Khancoban provides excellent opportunities to take a break with the many cafés here.
- 1 Parc Cafe, Snowy Region Visitor Centre, Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 6:30AM-4PM Su and public holidays 8:30AM-3PM. Closed Christmas day.
Thredbo and Perisher
- Main article: Thredbo#Sleep
- 1 Lyrebird Cottage, 23 Lyrebird Trail, Yarrangobilly, ☏ . Check-in: 3-5PM, check-out: 10AM. Built in 2011, this eco-friendly cottage comes with two bedrooms and can handle up to four guests, this cottage is quite surrounded in wildlife after dark – an experience not quite like any other. And it's not too far from Yarrangobilly either.
- Yarrangobilly Caves House: East and West wings, 51 Yarrangobilly Caves Road, Yarrangobilly. Large guesthouse, 9 rooms, and can cater up to 14 guests. This house also won commendations for the Unique Accommodation category in the Canberra Region Tourism Awards in the years of 2015 and 2016.
- 2 Yarrangobilly Village campground, Snowy Mountains Highway, Yarrangobilly, ☏ . A quiet camping spot close to the Snowy Mountains Highway, and there are fishing opportunities in the nearby Yarrangobilly River. Do note though, that there are no marked sites in the park. $6 booking fees apply.
Lower Snowy River
- Tumut is a town just outside of the park and a good base from which to explore it.