The craggy peaks of the NSW Snowy Mountains, Australia’s highest range, are an all-season destination but they come into their own during winter. As the air chills, the Snowies are transformed into a vast blanket of impressive and varied ski fields, with quaint towns primed for visitors, from skiers to wellness-seekers. Whether you prefer to explore on skis or relax in a steaming-hot natural spring, there’s an adventure waiting for everyone in the Snowy Mountains.
Switch on: Where to find adventure in Kosciuszko National Park
Image: Kosciuszko National Park covered in snow, pictured at dusk.
If you’re tempted to go off-piste, seek the expertise of someone who knows the area. Backcountry tours are only as good as your guides and veteran tour provider Snowy Mountains Backcountry ensures a combination of safety and extensive knowledge, as well as glimpses of the picturesque Guthega district in Kosciuszko’s upper reaches. Less confident (or novice) skiers can see the mountain with a half-day snowshoe tour, climbing to an elevation of 500 metres.
Don’t forget that due to COVID-19 requirements, visitors planning to hit the slopes this season will need to book lift passes separately from their accommodation – and well in advance. Both Perisher and Thredbo snowfields offer a range of lift pass options, including single or multi-day, depending on the length of your trip.
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to experience the slopes; snowkiting, a kind of kiteboarding-skiing hybrid, is an exhilarating way to see the Snowies. Beginners are welcome. In fact, the staff at K7 Adventures promise that anybody can tackle it with their expert help.
Switch on: Where to eat, stay and play in Thredbo village
Want to maximise your time on the mountain? Thredbo’s The Denman Hotel is in the heart of the village, an easy five-minute stroll from the chairlifts that carry you straight to the top of the slopes. This chic and cosy lodge has everything you’ll need including an onsite storage facility for your skis, boards and boots.
Image: Wild Brumby Distillery, in the foothills of Crackenback.
After a busy day schussing around the resort, take a trip to the award-winning Wild Brumby Distillery, nestled in the foothills of Crackenback. Across its range of gin, schnapps and vodka, there are drops for every palate, with flavours spanning baked apple, elderflower and raspberry-spiked. .
Switch off: Relax at Lake Crackenback Resort and Yarrangobilly Caves
For those who’ve come to the mountains for rest and relaxation, Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa capitalises on the slower pace of a snow vacation. Guests can unwind with a hot chocolate by an open fireplace, indulge in spa treatments like a hot stone massage, take a guided Segway tour or make the most of the area’s pristine waters with a spot of fly fishing come spring (reopens from October).
Take a daytrip to Kosciuszko National Park's Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool, just over two hours drive north of the Thredbo and Perisher ski fields. No matter what the time of year, the water temperature remains at 27°C, perfect for soothing sore muscles.
Image: Yarrangobilly Caves thermal pool covered in snow.
Switch off: With gourmet food and wine from the Snowy Mountains
Few delicacies entice like the truffle: the fragrant fungus adding a sublime umami flavour to anything it’s sprinkled on. Truffles are rare because they are fiendishly hard to grow but Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines gives visitors a chance to find their own truffles at this Bredbo farm. Truffle season runs from June to September and guests can join a hunt, following the noses of resident truffle dogs, with the opportunity to sample the delicious Perigord truffle in this paddock to plate experience.
You don’t need to ski to enjoy the apres-ski scene. At Courabyra Wines, a vineyard nestled in the foothills of the Snowies, the specialty is sparkling, especially the award-winning Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier. Sip a flute while enjoying a fireside Ploughman’s Lunch at the welcoming cellar door in Tumbarumba.