Cooma is the largest town in the alpine region, located halfway between Canberra and Bega, and is the gateway to the NSW Snowy Mountains and the many delights to be found there all year round. Hire ski equipment or buy your hiking boots, learn about the vast Snowy Hydro Scheme, fish in crystal clear waters and explore the beautiful countryside.
Things to do around town
Cooma is home to the Snowy Mountains Hydro Discovery Centre, where you can learn about the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, considered one of the engineering wonders of the modern world with seven power stations, 16 major dams, and over 140 kilometres of trans-mountain tunnels. You can also learn about the next phase of the Snowy Scheme, Snowy 2.0.
For something a little different, visit the NSW State Correctional Gaol Museum, which has exhibitions and displays covering the 200-year penal history of incarceration from convict times to present day. Once you are out of ‘gaol’, find out more about the rich history of Cooma on the Lambie Town Walk, which includes three National Trust-classified areas and pretty Centennial Park. A highlight is the view from Nanny Goat Hill Lookout.
To check out local artists, visit the Raglan Gallery and Cultural Centre, that showcases work by the region's established and emerging artists. Even the building is worth a look, as it dates back to 1854. Check out more historic buildings on the Lambie Town Walk.
Find your adventure
Winter is snow time and Cooma is a great place to hire your ski gear and tyre chains. Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass are from 70-95min drive away, with skiers and snowboarders often opting to stay in Cooma rather than drive straight through from Sydney.
When the snow has thawed, it is time to fish in the pristine rivers and lakes, and if you want to learn how to fly fish, sign up for a guided tour from Snowy Monaro Fly Fishing – all equipment is provided. White water rafting on the Snowy River with Alpine River Adventures is awesome fun, with mountain biking and hiking in the high country equally as enjoyable.
In summer, you can even walk to the rooftop of Australia on the trail to the top of Mount Kosciuszko. If you prefer to explore on the back of a horse, take your pick of Yarramba Horse Riding, Reynella Rides and Cochran Horse Treks – all excellent.
Food, wine & events
Restaurant 1861 (formerly Atrium Restaurant) is a great new restaurant at The Snowy Mountains Travellers Rest, an historic inn built in 1861 by Hugh Stewart. The buildings are being brought back to life with another great food location, Bar 1861, coming soon. While there have a Devonshire tea or barista made coffee at Collections Reflections, then enjoy shopping through the huge range of homewares and gifts.
Everyone loves a market and Cooma has a great one. The CMR Fresh Produce Markets run monthly on the tracks of the Cooma Monaro Railway Station. All kinds of delicious local fare will be on offer. Cooma has some exciting events during the year with a highlight being the Cooma Show, which is held in March each year. The Cooma Rodeo is action aplenty in February, while the Bredbo Sheep Dog Trials are held in November.
Getting there & where to stay
The drive from Sydney a little over four hours, from Canberra it’s about 80min and from Bega on the Sapphire Coast it’s 90min. You can fly into Snowy Mountains Airport and hire a car and explore the high country. Cooma has a range of accommodation including motels, hotels, farm stays, cottages and caravan parks.