Kosciuszko National Park
This spectacular alpine area has been a park of some kind since 1906. It started out as National Chase Snowy Mountains, became a dedicated state park in 1944 and finally a national park in 1967. Kosciuszko National Park is home to the highest peak in mainland Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, which soars to 2,228m. Both the mountain and the park are named after Polish cultural and political hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
The park is known for its hugely popular ski resorts, spectacular snow gums and the famous walk to the highest point in Australia and While the summit walk is most popular in summer, it can be reached by experienced adventurers in winter on cross-country skis or snowshoes, setting off from Thredbo or Charlotte Pass.
Let it snow
When the weather turns cold leading up to the winter months, skiers and snowboarders count the days until they can hit the slopes. There are three ski resorts in the park, Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte Pass. A fourth, Selwyn Snow Resort, is currently closed while it is being rebuilt. The ski season at all resorts generally runs between the June and October long weekends, with the best snow in July and August.
Perisher is the largest snow resort in the Southern Hemisphere, with four linked resorts – Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow. With 47 lifts and 1,245 hectares of snowy playground to ski and ride on, there’s no chance of getting bored. Cross-country (Nordic) skiers are also well catered for at Perisher, with more than 100 kilometres of trails.
At Thredbo, the pretty alpine village hugs the hillside with a big range of lodges, hotels and apartments as well as restaurants and bars. Thredbo has Australia’s first alpine gondola which whisks skiers, boarders and sightseers up to the Cruiser area and the popular Merritts restaurant. You’ll also find the longest run in Australia, the Supertrail, and Karels T-bar takes you up to the country’s highest lifted point.
Charlotte Pass is the highest resort in Australia and might also be the prettiest. This is because it is completely snowbound, with no cars, no crowds and no hassles. The only way to get there is by over snow transport from Perisher Valley. It might be small, with five lifts and 19 runs, but Charlotte Pass caters to all levels and has a fairy-tale quality about it. This could be due to the beautiful Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel, which was built in 1930 and is known as the ‘grand old lady of the mountains.’
Things to do
Ski and snowboard under the stars with night skiing at Perisher and Charlotte Pass. Thredbo has its iconic Flare Run and Saturday fireworks spectacular. Early risers with a penchant for untouched, groomed runs can do first tracks at all three resorts and at the other end of the day, you can do a groomer tour at Perisher and Charlotte Pass. There is also snowshoeing to be done at all resorts, and for those wanting a challenge, there are backcountry tours at Perisher and Thredbo to try.
Off the snow, head for the heated indoor pool, bouldering wall and kids play area at Thredbo Leisure Centre, or marvel at the long and colourful history of Thredbo at its excellent Alpine Museum. You can also head up the mountain by gondola or snowcat for excellent dining experiences at Merritts and Kareela Hutte.
Further afield, Yarrangobilly Caves is at the northern end of the national park. The limestone dates back 440 million years and the formations in the six caves are mesmerising. Bring your swimmers, as nearby you can take a rejuvenating dip in a thermal pool of naturally heated spring waters.
Driving in the national park
If driving into Kosciusko National Park in a 2WD vehicle, you will need to carry snow chains in winter. You will also need to pay an entry fee. Consider purchasing an annual All Parks Pass which allows you to access all fee-paying national parks in NSW, including Kosciuszko.
This magnificent national park is the largest in NSW and home to Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. Enjoy fun outdoor adventures, from a summit walk to the rooftop of Australia to mountain biking and fly fishing.
As the snow melts in spring and pristine waters flow into mountain streams, the winter wonderland of Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Mount Selwyn changes into alpine trails for bushwalking, hiking and mountain biking.
Hiking & bushwalking
One of the many memorable experiences is to walk to Australia’s highest point – at an elevation of 2,228 metres - for a stunning panorama of the beautiful Australian Alps and beyond. You can begin this exhilarating journey from either Thredbo or Charlotte Pass.
The quickest way is to take Thredbo’s Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to the Kosciuszko walk, which is 13km return or four to five hours. The longer Charlotte Pass summit walk is 18.6km return or six to eight hours. Other great walking tracks include Main Range in a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve.
Pretty wildflowers such as golden-stemmed billy buttons, silver daisies and marsh marigolds blanket swathes of the Snowy Mountains in summer. On the Goldseekers track, near the mesmerising Wallace Creek lookout, you can spot endangered pygmy possums in hollow old snow gums.
At the northern end of the national park is the Yarrangobilly Caves, which are filled with wondrous formations. The limestone dates back 440 million years. Bring your swimmers, as nearby you can take a rejuvenating dip in a thermal pool of naturally heated spring waters rising from the depths.
You can join various tours into the national park, including the Wiradjuri Aboriginal Cultural Tour from Tumut into the park’s northern wilderness. The crystal-clear rivers are perfect for fly fishing and kayaking, and there are plenty of trails for mountain biking and horse riding.
Accommodation in Kosciuszko National Park
You’ll find accommodation options to suit various budgets, from a youth hostel to hotels, inns, apartments, lodges and chalets. Alternatively, you can stay outside the park in the surrounding areas of Jindabyne, Cooma, Tumut and Tumbarumba.
You’ll find more information as well as downloadable maps on the NSW National Parks app guide.