This is a tourist drive with so much to explore, but only two days on the road. Start in either Sydney or Australia’s capital Canberra for an easy drive through one of Australia’s richest food belts and into the spectacular scenery, snowboarding and skiing of the Snowy Mountains. Base yourself at NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park for a few days there’s is so much to see and do in this region before heading to the coast. Finish your trip with a few days by the sea, watching the whales on their annual northern migration and exploring the sights of the Sapphire Coast and magnificent Merimbula.
Driving Day One: Kosciuszko Alpine Way
Driving time from Canberra – 2 hours
Driving time from Sydney – 5 hours
One of Australia’s most spectacular drives is the Kosciuszko Alpine Way, easily accessed from either Sydney or Canberra. It takes you through the home of the infamous “Man from Snowy River” with picturesque landscapes of the Snowy Mountains, an excellent local food and wine trail, quaint historical towns and some of Australia’s best skiing and snowboarding. The roads are well-sealed and easy to drive, the people are friendly and there are plenty of things to see and do, all year round.
Image source: Raglan Gallery and Cultural Centre
The largest town in the Snowy Mountains region is Cooma. It’s an easy drive of just over an hour from Canberra or four hours south of Sydney via an excellent highway system. One of the first things you’ll see as you drive into Cooma is the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre where you can learn all about one of the world’s incredible engineering feats, Australia’s largest hydro-electric generator. In the heart of town, you’ll find the Raglan Gallery and Cultural Centre. This magnificent building and heritage gardens was established in 1854 and was Cooma’s first bank, a private hospital and a family home before it became this thriving hub of arts and crafts, drawing artists from all over the world for exhibitions.
Miss Heidi’s Austrian Tea House
Image source: Miss Heidi’s Austrian Tea House
Follow Tourist Drive 1 south of Cooma. Three kilometres out of town is the Mt Gladstone Lookout. A stop at Miss Heidi’s Austrian Tea House is a must. Set inside an old-log cabin, it features a homestyle menu of schnitzels, strudels and some of the most amazing pancakes you’ll ever taste (crispy on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside). Portion sizes are huge so to help digest your meal we suggest a stroll to check out the incredible views over Cooma, the Monaro Plains, Snowy Mountains and Mt Kosciusko.
Berridale and Dalgety
Around 30 mins south of Cooma (approximately half-way between Cooma and Jindabyne) is the little town of Berridale. You’ll find the delicious Whisk & Cocoa Café and Cake Parlour and wineries like Shut the Gate Wines with cellar door, cheese and meats – perfect for picnic supplies. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the town of Dalgety where you will find the Snowy Mountain Vineyard and Microbrewery, home to the Dalgety Brewing Company with a selection of ales produced on site including Pale, Blonde, Gold, Red and Strong.
Overnight – Jindabyne
Your home for this evening, NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park is around 20 minutes from Dalgety. Set on the foreshore of magnificent Lake Jindabyne, it’s the perfect place to base yourself to explore the Snowy Mountain region. Accommodation includes cozy cabins as well as camping, caravan and campervan sites with beautiful mountain and lake vistas.
Hit the slopes
Jindabyne is the perfect base for some snow holiday action. As well as skiing and snowboarding, you can snow-tube, snow-shoe, have some adrenaline charged fun in terrain parks or just take in the view from scenic chairlift rides. Thredbo boasts the longest ski runs in Australia and is a 30-minute drive from Jindabyne. Entry into the Koscuiszko National Park is $29 per car (in winter) and you will need snow chains. There’s more than 2500 free car parking spots in the Thredbo Resort. Alternatively, there are regular buses between Jindabyne and Thredbo with fare costs including National Park entry.
Perisher is the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere with more than 3000 acres of terrain over four resort areas including Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega. It is a 30 minute drive from Jindabyne (in the opposite direction to Thredbo) and the same national park entry fees apply.
Another easy way to get to Perisher is via the Skitube (train). Either drive or catch a shuttle bus to the Bullock Flat station, 20km from Jindabyne (no chains required). Adult tickets are $34 if you buy a ski pass ($19 for children) or $48 if you are just sightseeing ($26 for children).
Discover your inner ‘Man from Snowy River’ and set off on a horseback ride through the snow gums, along brumby trails and alpine streams. Jindabyne is also home to a world-class equestrian centre with clinics and camps for adults and children.
Thredbo Valley Track – Open December to April
This has to be one of Australia’s most scenic downhill mountain-bike rides or downhill bush walks. From Jindabyne, it’s a short drive to Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa where you can leave your car. From October to April, the resort offers a shuttle bus for you and your bike to the start of the trail at Thredbo where you can make your way home. If you don’t have a bike, you can hire a near-new high performance mountain bike for $95. You’ll experience undulating terrain through woodlands, forests, grasslands and some impressive suspension bridges. When you get to the bottom reward yourself with a wholesome meal from the Alpine Larder or a relaxing spa treatment at Lake Crackenback Spa.
Snowy Mountain Cookies
Image source: snowycookies.com.au
There’s nothing more comforting on a crisp day than a freshly baked cookie with a hot chocolate. Snowy Mountain Cookies is Australia’s highest bakehouse and the best bit is that you can buy the imperfect cookies at their factory outlet. As my mum always said, broken biscuits taste just as delicious!
Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery
Image source: wildbrumby.com
A short drive out of Jindabyne, towards Thredbo, you’ll find award winning Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery. This is more than a distillery with every flavor of schnapps you can imagine. It’s a classy café with a superb locally-sourced menu and an impressive gallery of art and sculpture. On the first Saturday of every month, they host the Makers Market with one of Australia’s most diverse display of handmade products. You’ll meet local knitters, weavers, welders, carvers, potters, painters and bakers on this great day out.
Lake Jindabyne is one of Australia’s best trout fishing spots for Wild Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Atlantic Salmon. The local tackle shop is well stocked so you can fish on your own or with a local guide.
Gaden Trout Hatchery
If you don’t want to catch one but are interested in seeing how premier sport fish are bred and raised, then a visit to the Gaden Trout Hatchery will show you everything you need to know about trout and Atlantic Salmon.
Image source: dpi.nsw.gov.au
Driving Day Two: Leave the mountains behind you
When you are ready to come down from your Snowy Mountain high, it’s time to head to the sea. It’s hard to believe that the sparkling Sapphire Coast is just over two hours away.
Break up the short drive with a stop in Bombala – the heart of Australia’s platypus country and once considered as a site for Australia’s capital city (but missed out due to lack of water). There’s a viewing platform at the Platypus Reserve, around 4.5km out of town or you can sometimes spot them on the Bombala River Walk which winds its way through the township.
Bombala is also gaining fame for its lavender. Bombala’s Lavender House was a convent back in the 1800’s but now is home to a beautiful array of locally produced lavender products. With prior notice, you can arrange to see how the essential lavender oil is produced.
The drive from Bombala to Merimbula is just over an hour where you will pass by parts of the South East Forest National Park, park of a 600km conservation corridor that stretches from southern New South Wales into Victoria.
Image source: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
The closer you get to the coast, you’ll start to sense the sea. The enchanting seaside town of Merimbula awaits and the best place to base yourself to explore this part of the Sapphire Coast is NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort. You’ll find a great range of villa and cabin accommodation as well as sites for camping and caravans; many with magnificent ocean views over the headland. Don’t be surprised if you see some whales cruise by, Merimbula is a feeding ground for several species of whales and daily sightings during the whale watching season (July to November) are common.
Where to stay:
NRMA Parks and Resorts are located in iconic locations. All parks feature a range of accommodation including self-contained cabins or villas as well as caravan and camping sites. NRMA members receive and 10% discount plus other benefits when they stay at NRMA Parks and Resorts.
Looking for somewhere to stay on the way?
With several holiday parks and resorts in iconic locations around Australia, why not stay somewhere great?Check availability