Kosciuszko National Park is in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and the largest national park in New South Wales, and the highest in Australia. The sunburned country isn't often associated with snow, but the park offers good skiing opportunities.
Kosciuszko National Park covers 6,900 km2, around 5–6 hours / 500 km southwest of Sydney.
Used by Aboriginal people for over 20,000 years, the park was a meeting point for feasting 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 ("KOZ-ee-OS-koh"). Unsurprisingly, it's usually shortened to "Kossie".
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 late 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, ☏ , email@example.com. 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, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, ☏ , email@example.com. 8:30AM-5PM. Learn about the wildlife and indigenous culture here.
- 4 Tumut Region Visitor Centre, The Old Butter Factory, 5 Adelong Road, Tumut, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, ☏ , email@example.com. 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 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.
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 southern areas 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.
In the northern areas, the Snowy Mountains Highway runs throughout, from Cooma to Tumut, but it's a two-lane road (one lane each) at all times, with speed limits of 80–100 km/h (50–62 mph)
- 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, 7637 Kosciuszko Road, Wilsons Valley, ☏ . 8:30AM-5PM. Learn about the wildlife of the Australian Alps, along with its geography and the indigenous heritage of the park. The education centre includes some hands-on displays along with some interactive programs. Rather strangely, the education centre also has a section about Bhutan's environment and its mountainous geography.
- 8 Snowy Mountains Cinema, 49 Kosciuszko Rd, Jindabyne, ☏ . Not exactly in Kosciuszko National Park, but it's within the precinct of the Snowy Region Visitor Centre in Jindy. Although most of it is just random latest release movies, some of it is specialised about the snow.
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 Yarrangobilly Caves. A section of the park home to several caves, with four of them being easily accessible, one by a self-guided tour, with the other three via guided tours. Each of the caves are of different time periods, and are quite a distance from each other.
- 18 Black Perry lookout, Snowy Mountains Highway, Talbingo.
- 19 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
- 20 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.
- Main article: Hiking in Kosciuszko National Park
Kosciuszko National Park has plenty of hiking trails, and there are different hiking trails for different levels. As most of Kosciuszko's scenery is inaccessible by car, hiking remains the primary means of seeing the park's beauty.
The most important of all the hikes are the Mount Kosciuszko summit trails, taking you to the peak of the Australian mainland. It can be done even if your fitness levels are only average, and there are good facilities along the way, including toilets.
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.
Kosciuszko contains 100 percent of all ski resorts in New South Wales. There are four ski resorts, though two are significantly more appealing and visited than the other two. Additionally, three of the four ski resorts are in a more southerly location, further away from the capital cities of Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne (though if you happened to be in Melbourne, it is more convenient to go to a Victorian ski resort).
Perisher is the largest ski resort, best known for its extensive network of skiing trails. There is an amplitude of facilities in the village, but unlike the other three ski resorts, Perisher is made up of four different ski resorts: Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Perisher Valley. It is also the most convenient of all to get to, as it is accessible via Australia’s only ski tube.
Thredbo is the second largest ski resort, and the most popular ski resort with first-time skiers. It too, has a good range of facilities, but receives significantly less snow. Thredbo also has significantly better developed chairlifts, and the only gondola in Australia and these operate year-round (even outside the skiing season). However, do be aware that everything in Thredbo is way more expensive than the other three ski resorts, and even budget foods have price tags of what would be the price of upper mid-range foods elsewhere.
Charlotte Pass is not a very well-known ski resort, and if it happens to be your first time visiting the Perisher section of Kosciuszko National Park, good chances are that you’ll only first encounter the name “Charlotte Pass” when you first visit. The village is entirely inaccessible by car during winter due to the significantly higher altitudes but is quieter and less commercialised – so if you do want to ski without all the crowds, but still have some facilities and not operated by a single business, then Charlotte Pass would meet your criterion.
Selwyn (or Selwyn Ski Resort) is a fair distance from the other three and is operated by a single monopoly (somewhat like Corin Forest in Canberra) and is further up north in Mount Selwyn. There are relatively few facilities, and accommodation options are limited – but many come here as part of a daytrip from somewhere like Cooma or Jindabyne.
- 1 Parc Cafe, Snowy Region Visitor Centre, Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 6:30AM-4PM Su and public holidays 8:30AM-3PM. Closed Christmas day. A cafe beside the visitor centre. Nothing too interesting about this cafe, except the fact that it's beside a park's visitor centre.
- 2 Eagles Nest, Thredbo Top Station, Thredbo, ☏ , email@example.com. 9:30AM-3PM Daily. The highest restaurant in Australia at 1937 metres in altitude.
Lodging is mostly found in the settlements that exist within Kosciuszko National Park. See Thredbo § Sleep, Perisher § Sleep, [[Yarrangobilly Caves#Lodging]|Yarrangobilly Caves § Lodging]], or Charlotte Pass § Sleep for lodging within these settlements.
The only lodge available outside any settlement is the Wolgal Hut in Kiandra, but has been indefinitely closed due to severe damages from the 2019–20 bushfires.
Camping, on the other hand, is a much better way to enjoy the outdoors of Kosciuszko National Park. There are campgrounds in every part of the park; most only have a $6 booking fee (and seriously, that's it), so for the ultra-low-cost budget traveller, camping is a good way to save some cash.