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The Best Winter Drives in the Snowy Mountains

Snowy Mountains Highway - Australian Alps.jpg

Home to Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, and some of the country’s top ski resorts including Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte’s Pass, the Snowy Mountains Region is the ultimate destination to embark on a scenic winter drive. To help you get planning, here are some of the best winter drives through the New South Wales Snowy Mountains. 

Snowy Mountain Highway

Stretching between Tumut, a quaint riverside town in the Riverina, to Cooma, a popular base to explore the region’s snowfields, this 129km scenic drive is the gateway to the northern part of Mount Kosciuszko National Park. Reaching a peak of 4,904ft, the route will lead you through natural spring thermal pools, alpine wilderness, glistening waterfalls and of course, the snow covered mountains of the Australian Alps. While the roads are sealed and accessible by 2WD vehicles, the roads can be subject to extreme conditions during winter. Chains are required and a 4WD vehicle is preferred. 

Have your camera ready as you head south from Tumut along the crystal clear waters of Tumut Lake. Stop at Black Perry Lookout to take in the sights of Black Perry Mountain and the Bogong Mountain Range. A little further south, you’ll find Landers Falls Lookout, offering picture perfect views of Landers Fall and the rocky gorges surrounding Talbingo Reservoir. Continuing south, you will soon arrive at Yarrangobilly. Stop here to explore the limestone formations of Yarrangobilly Caves or warm up by taking a dip in the natural spring thermal pools. As you continue south through the towering peaks of Mount Kosciuszko National Park, be sure to stop at the historic township of Adaminaby, located on the edge of Lake Eucumbene, before arriving in the old mining town of Cooma. 

Plan your trip here. 

Kosciuszko Alpine Way 

Beginning in Cooma, Kosciuszko Alpine Way is a popular route for motorcyclists, those keen to hit up the slopes, and for those travellers eager to extend the Snowy Mountains Highway drive through the southern parts of Mount Kosciuszko National Park. With a highest peak of 5,180ft above sea level, this scenic drive offers some of the country’s most breathtaking views of the Australian Alps. 

Begin the 173km journey from Cooma to Khancoban along Kosciuszko Road. Your first stop is Berridale, a mountain-side village boasting fantastic local produce, vineyards and breweries. Continuing west, the Australian Alps play backdrop to granite boulders and rocky plains. Soon, you will arrive in Jindabyne – one of the most popular spots in the region to access the Charlotte’s Pass, Thredbo and Perisher ski fields. Situated on the foothills of Mount Kosciuszko, Jindabyne is a sight to behold, offering plentiful eateries and drinking holes on the banks of the infamous Snowy River.

Veering onto Alpine Way towards Thredbo Village, this is one of the most scenic parts of the route, offering spectacular views of the mountain ranges and Perisher Valley. From Thredbo Village, strap yourself in – the winding roads get a whole lot windier as you make your descent towards the Murray River, where New South Wales meets Victoria. From here, the route veers north through river crossings and lush mountain-side forests before arriving in the lakeside town of Khancoban. Be sure to stop at Scammells Ridge Lookout along the way for epic views across the Great Dividing Range, and of course, Mount Kosciuszko in all its winter glory. 

Plan your road trip here

From the Snowy Mountains to the Sea

Stretching 187km from Jindabyne to the ocean-side village of Merimbula, this scenic drive celebrates the true beauty and diversity of Australia’s landscape. From the snow-capped Australian Alps to the glistening waters of the New South Wales Sapphire Coast, this High Country road trip is definitely one for the bucket list! 

Leaving Jindabyne, head south on The Snowy River Way to Dalgety, a small town on the banks of the Snowy River and home to one of the country’s oldest river crossings. It was here, along the Travelling Stock route, cattle would be transported from Gippsland, all the way through to the high country. The drive then continues south for a few kilometres before veering east onto Springfield Way, and then south onto the Snowy Mountains Highway. 

As you farewell the rugged plains, the landscape begins to transform into a backdrop of greenery. Be sure to stretch the legs at Pipers Lookout and soak in the surrounding views of South East Forest National Park and Bega Valley. Travelling east to Stony Creek, you will bypass the rolling hills of Monaro Plains, the timber-clad town of Bemboka and the lush forests of Brown Mountain before arriving in Bega – a visit to the Bega Cheese Factory is a must! Crossing Bega River, the route carries south along Princess Highway before arriving at your final destination – Merimbula! Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for whales – this east coast destination is a popular sighting spot during the winter season. 

Plan your drive here. 

Keen to explore the best winter drives in Victoria’s High Country? Read our top picks here!

Before you head off…

During winter (usually between the Queen’s Birthday and Melbourne Cup long weekends), it is recommended that all vehicles carry chains through alpine areas. Some roads may be closed due to extreme weather conditions, so be sure to check for seasonal road closures before heading off. If you have a Diesel car or vehicle, make sure you fuel up with Alpine Diesel or purchase a cold weather additive, to avoid your diesel turning into wax or gel in temperatures lower than zero degrees. 

And of course, a good quality battery is recommended, as they do have a tendency to fail in extreme cold or heat. To make sure your battery is up for the challenge, visit one of our Marshall stores in Jindabyne or Cooma for a FREE winter check on your car battery! 

For more information, check out our essential guide to driving in the snow

And remember, if you find yourself in need of roadside assistance on your way up the mountain, you can always holler for a Marshall on 1300 627 742. 


Image: “Snowy Mountains Highway” by MDRX is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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