A hiker catching the sunset in Kosciuszko National Park. Image credit: Tourism Snowy Mountains
The Snowy Mountains, New South Wales: A world under the snowmelt
There’s a unique beauty to the snow capped ranges of Australia’s high country. You’d be hard pressed to find an alpine region more alien in appearance anywhere around the globe, with its rolling hills blanketed in white and dotted with snow gums and mossy boulders of granite. The crowds flock in their thousands to see and ski these distinct mountains every year, but then in the glistening springtime, the snow begins to melt and that seasonal explosion of human energy and life vanishes as nature takes its place. It's our belief, however, that the summer months may just be the best time of year to lose yourself in the Snowy Mountains. Here's why.
Stunning views from the hiking trails of Kosciuszko National Park. Image credit: Tourism Snowy Mountains
With the changing of the seasons, the pleasant summer weather opens up a wealth of picturesque alpine terrain that is hard to reach in the winter, and the grand plateau of the Snowy Mountains’ ‘main range’ is transformed into a hikers paradise. Bring your best pair of hiking boots and plenty of snacks to fuel you, and the kilometres upon kilometres of looping and winding trails will take you on a journey through Australia’s tallest and most rugged mountains, and open your eyes to some of the country's most dramatic vistas and far reaching viewpoints. The stark beauty of winter gives way to a whole new landscape of vibrant colour, and the blossoming of wildflowers amongst the green meadows of the mountainsides is truly a sight to see. The most famous trail in the expanse of Kosciuszko National Park is the iconic Mount Kosciuszko Summit Walk, and while the 6-8 hour loop is not exactly light work, it takes advantage of one truly unique and special feature of our continent; our highest peak can be conquered with no expensive gear, no hours of training, and no perilous danger; just two able feet and a good old bag of trail mix.
Sunset celebrations at the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. Image credit: Tourism Snowy Mountains
Mountain biking has long been the de facto summer substitute for those keen skiers and boarders who just can’t get enough of riding the slopes, and here in the Snowy Mountains, there is a paradise of trails to explore. Take to the hills on your choice of the 11 jaw dropping scenic rides that criss-cross the rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park, with lengths and difficulties to accommodate riders of all skill levels. The Geehi Reservoir ride is an experienced pedallers favourite, crossing the main range from the ski village of Guthega to the steep descent into the Geehi Valley, while the Thredbo Valley Track is ideal for a family ride. If the rush of pure downhill action is more your speed, the Thredbo Mountain Bike Park is perfect for you. You might be used to riding these chairlifts and runs on your skis or board, but in the summer they take on a whole new life. Australia’s biggest ski resort by vertical is just as much fun on two wheels. Grab a state of the art bike and protective outfit for hire or to keep from one of the resorts MTB retail/rental shops, or book a spot in an official Thredbo MTB clinic if you wanna take your downhill skills to the next level with a qualified instructor. The slopes of Thredbo are built to thrill all year round.
Scenic mountain biking in the Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW
The hidden gem of the Kosciuszko National Park are the Yarrangobilly Caves and surrounding thermal springs, and summer is the perfect time to explore this captivating area. Located just a short ways North from the small family ski resort of Selwyn Snowfields, the karst landscape of Yarrangobilly’s underground world has formed through 440 million years of erosion into the ancient limestone. These caves are reverent chambers of inhospitable beauty, and the chance to step into their alien worlds is one you'd be sore to pass up. With six distinct caverns open year round, this is one of NSW's top spots for spelunking, and the stunning South Glory cave offers self guided tours for the more adventorous in spirit. Back above the ground, the Yarrangobilly Thermal Pool Walk and River Walk are wonderful ways to unwind in the highland sun, taking you through fresh and geothermically heated pools and streams, with their unique therapeutic qualities making them perfect for a soothing and rejuvenating dip. If you're looking to spend the night, the historic Yarrangobilly Caves House is an accommodating and charming spot that’s ideal for a weekend trip. This Heritage listed house was built in 1917, and has been reborn as an award winning getaway hotel with modern facilities and luxuries that betray its remote setting deep in the Northern Snowies.
Caverns and the river walk at Yarrangobilly Caves. Image credit: Destination NSW
Lake Jindabyne is the great shiny blue jewel of the Snowy Mountains, and in the warmth of summer it truly comes alive. The reservoir, once a stretch of the Snowy River, was flooded as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and swallowed the extent of the original settlement of Jindabyne, which is sometimes still visible at low tide. Today it is one of Australia’s largest freshwater lakes, and is a haven for fishing, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, and more. With a resident population of Atlantic salmon, as well as Brook and Rainbow trout, summer is peak season here in what is known as one of the absolute prime trout fishing spots anywhere in Australia. Bring whatever boat you’ve got, as whether you’re casting a line or not, a cruise on the tranquil waters of this vast alpine lake is as scenic as it gets this far inland. The charming town of Jindabyne that rises up around the lakes Southern banks is known as the capital of the Snowy Mountains, and is one of the most vibrant and outdoorsy regional towns in NSW. Take a relaxing summer’s afternoon dip in the cool waters down at Foreshore Park, with picture perfect campsites and barbecue spots galore. If you’re keen to stay in town, grab a room overlooking the banks at the Lake Jindabyne Hotel, adjacent to Banjo Paterson Park which commemorates the legendary Australian poet whose iconic ode to these very waters; The Man From Snowy River, is so synonymous with the region.
Kayaking on Lake Jindabyne. Image credit: Tourism Snowy Mountains
Horse trekking is a beloved and richly storied tradition in the Snowy Mountains. Perhaps inspired by the free roaming and majestic brumbies that have traversed these hillsides since the early days of European settlers (those that captivated Banjo Paterson so), it's hard not to feel gripped by the spirit of adventure upon digging your feet into the stirrups and setting off into the high country. The 1982 major film adaption of Paterson’s epic of Australiana breathed new life into the horse culture in this region with a flood of public interest and today, with Reynella Rides, you can feel just like The Man from Snowy River and see the mountains from a whole new perspective. Founder John Rudd first saw these lands as a boy visiting his uncle, a mountain man who pioneered adventure guiding in the Snowies. His distinguished eco-tourism career has earned him an OAM for contribution to preserving the high country and sharing its beauty with the world. For the last 51 years the Rudd family have been guiding horseback safaris through the peaks and valleys of Kosciuszko National Park, with packages offering up to 5 days riding and camping amongst our greatest ranges. Though no guarantees are offered, most guests get a chance to see the legendary brumbies of the Snowies up close and personal.
Horse trekking in the Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW
For further information
If you're interested in learning more about the Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, and what's on during summer, check out Tourism Snowy Mountains, or have a look at the bike trail and hiking trail maps of Kosciuszko National Park.
Far reaching views from the Snowy Mountains main range. Image credit: Destination NSW