When the mercury drops, the Snowy Mountains heat up. Whether you’re carving up the slopes or soaking in thermal pools, here’s the ultimate way to spend a long winter’s weekend with your family.
- Ski, snowboard, snowshoe and toboggan at a winter resort
- Stay on a working farm, replete with friendly animal residents
- Soak in warm thermal waters at Yarrangobilly Caves
- Savour paddock-to-plate freshness at Crackenback Farm
- Sip local spirits at Wildbrumby Distillery
DAY ONE: Discover farm-fresh winter produce
Plan on arriving in Bredbo, just north of Cooma, by mid-morning so the kids have plenty of time to play with SongLu and Tawdiffu, the pair of adorable dog mascots that race around the grounds of Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines. The winter months are prime season for black Périgords, and the estate’s sharp-nosed pooches will help you uncover where they grow: at the base of oak and hazel trees. On the Family Truffle Hunt, you’ll follow the truffle dogs around the property, hunting nuggets of the prized, aromatic fungus.
Continue onto Cooma for a reviving Snowy Mountains coffee at Lott Cafe, which also sells house-made cakes and sweets.
Once you’re sufficiently refuelled, set out on the Kosciuszko Alpine Way with your GPS set for Jindabyne. The lakeside alpine town is the gateway to the high country’s major ski fields of Perisher, Thredbo, Selwyn and Charlotte Pass.
The first stop in town is to pick up supplies at The Market, a cafe and providore selling hyper-local produce, hot coffee and fresh juices, salads, sandwiches and more.
Just 20 minutes out of Jindabyne is Avonside Alpine Estate, your base for the next two nights. This postcard-perfect working farm nurtures 400 chickens, Highland cattle and Southdown baby doll sheep, which big and small members of the family can meet, as well as exploring the orchard and veggie gardens. The eco-friendly two- and three-bedroom cabins here are completely off-grid and self-contained, with Scandi-style furnishings and an outdoor firepit for marshmallow roasting.
Channel the European Alps at Bacco Italian Restaurant, a long-time Jindabyne favourite in a wood-panelled dining room reminiscent of a chalet. The kitchen prepares the kind of food you crave after a long day in the fresh alpine air – think spaghetti tutto mare with Moreton Bay bug, king prawns and squid; pizzas; or seared snapper. There's also a kid’s menu for little ones 12 years and younger.
DAY TWO: Pull on your beanie & lace up your ski boots
Jindabyne’s Birchwood Cafe takes its coffee seriously. Sip a Single O blend with a slice of carrot cake, or order a hot chocolate, baked Dutch pancakes and a breakfast bowl ahead of a big day on the slopes. Post-breakfast, set off for a half-day tour of snowshoeing through backcountry with K7 Adventures, where guides offer a taste of the Kosciuszko alpine area, and views of Mount Kosciuszko, along the Ramshead Ramble route.
Come afternoon, take your pick of the region’s snow resorts for an afternoon of skiing and boarding. Thredbo’s 50-plus runs include the longest in the country, plus there are terrain parks and Australia’s only mountain gondola, Merritts Gondola, a scenic ride for both skiers and non-skiers. At the top of the ride you’ll find Merritts Mountain House, perfect for a hearty après ski burger and glass of wine.
Meanwhile, Perisher and its surrounding snowfields comprise the largest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere, with runs for all experience levels across 1,245 hectares. This expanse also includes terrain parks, half-pipes, cross-country trails, and tobogganing and tubing in a dedicated area.
And finally, there’s Charlotte Pass, only accessible by over-snow transport from Perisher. Because the resort has exclusive access, you may find that when you arrive it's a little quieter than the others.
Post snow-activity, pull off your boots in time to warm up at Wildbrumby Distillery. A sour cherry or butterscotch schnapps will be the only tonic you need after a fun-filled day in the high country; the kids will love a bowl of the apple streudel. After dessert, let them loose in the sculpture garden before you drive on to Jindabyne Brewing for a cob loaf, grilled skewers and draught beer.
In a valley between Jindabyne and Thredbo, Crackenback Farm also boasts a cosy guesthouse, but you don’t have to be checked in to enjoy a paddock-to-plate meal in the restaurant. Book a table by the open fire, and order generous plates of French farmhouse-style fare – the kids will love the date pudding for dessert.
Let the kids sleep in with either obliging parent, and stretch snow-weary limbs in a hatha yoga class at Jai Yoga, before grabbing coffees, hot chocolates and cinnamon doughnuts to take away from Friday Flat Donut Hut.
Relaxed and toasty post-hot chocolate, head back to Avonside to check out, then drive north to Yarrangobilly Caves, a series of astonishing caves with stalactites and stalagmites formed from limestone that’s millions of years old. Take the 3km Yarrangobilly River trail loop to reach a natural Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool that’s 27°C year-round – perfect for a quick dip, even when surrounded by snow, before continuing your journey back to Sydney.
The Snowy Mountains region is a scenic five-and-a-half-hour drive south of Sydney. Your epic road trip will take you through the mist-draped villages of the Southern Highlands and skirting Lake George before arriving in Cooma, the largest town in the Snowy Mountains. This is the start of the legendary Kosciuszko Alpine Way, a 170km route carving through the range toward Khancoban, with Australia’s loftiest peak (Mount Kosciuszko) as your backdrop.