Hit the road for one of the country’s most beautiful drives.
The Snowy Mountains Highway is a stunning scenic drive through Australia’s high country in the northern part of the Kosciuszko National Park. It runs for just under 130 kilometres and forms part of the larger Snowy Valleys Way. It starts in the town of Tumut in the Riverina and finishes in Adaminaby, close to the main snowfields town of Cooma. The road is open year round but is especially beautiful in winter when snow covers most of the route, turning the beautiful alpine wilderness into a glittery wonderland.
Things to do
Driving the route only takes a couple of hours, but you’re going to want to stop along the way. The Kiandra heritage track is around 90 kilometres from Tumut and the site of Australia’s shortest (and coldest) gold rushes. It only lasted from November 1859 to March 1961, but in that time over 8,000 people flocked to the fields to make their fortune. The old courthouse, built in the late 1800s, is all that is left of the town and there’s a 1.2 kilometre loop that takes you through the historic site, past ruined buildings and other remnants of the glory days.
The Yarrangobilly Caves, close to the drive’s halfway point, is one of Australia’s most beautiful limestone karst systems. There are six caves that were created around 440 million years ago and are dripping with stalactites, stalagmites and delicate cave corals. Venture into the largest cave, South Glory, on your own or take a guided tour of the Jersey and Jillabenan caves. Jillabenan is the most easily accessible and is even suitable for people in wheelchairs. Once you’re back on the surface, warm up with a soak in the natural thermal pools. They stay at a constant 27 degrees year round, so it's magical when surrounded by snow. If you want to spend the night, the grand Yarrangobilly Caves House opened in 1917 and offers stylish rooms in a spectacular setting.
What do I need?
You can make the drive in a regular car, though you will need to carry chains during the winter. A 4WD is a good idea if you want to explore off road on some of the smaller tributaries. There’s no fuel available between Tumut and Adaminaby, so make sure your tank is full!
Have you ever driven the Snowy Mountain Highway?