Travel Guide

Top 10 things to do in the Snowy Mountains

By Chloe · 1/09/2023 · 10 min read
Hit the high country and make yourself at home in The Snowies. There’s fun to be had here every month of the year.

Perhaps Australia's most significant high country area, the <a href=””>Snowy Mountains has both played an important role in Australian history and serves as a wonderful showcase of the often-forgotten alpine environments that our country contains. While traditional imagery of Australia packaged for export typically contains the ochre-red hues of <a href="”>Uluru or the vivid blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the snow-dusted peaks and flowing, crystal-clear rivers of the Snowy Mountains are just as important a part of the overall diversity of our landscape.

“The Snowies” are a vast region containing some of the highest peaks in Australia and serve as a veritable adventure playground all-year-round as during the winter months they are home to some of the country's best ski and snow activities, while in the summer they offer numerous opportunities for off-road adventures from 4WDing, mountain biking, fishing and much more. It's an area that changes its character drastically between the seasons, yet has no less to see and do from one to the next and remains as untouched and pure a part of Australia as still remains.

With such a broad spectrum of things to see, activities to take part in and areas to explore, those who are planning to visit the Snowy Mountains may be overwhelmed. As a result, here we aim to outline the Top 10 Things to do in the Snowy Mountains, covering a broad range of experiences that can be done both when the snow is falling and otherwise.

10. WildBrumby Schnapps Distillery

The Snowy Mountains isn't just a region of Australia for indulging your eyes; there are plenty of opportunities in the area to enjoy some quality food and drink as well, and those who like a drop of the good stuff will have several great opportunities to partake. Of particular note is the WildBrumby Schnapps Distillery which is located between the popular Snowy Mountains ski resorts of Jindabyne and Thredbo (roughly a 20km drive from Jindabyne) that is an interesting blend of distillery, restaurant and hotel all intermixed. Set amongst some beautifully manicured gardens and nestled in a location surrounded by majestic, mountainous terrain, it's a unique backdrop to enjoy a sampling or a distinctive meal that feels akin to being somewhere in Austria or Germany more than the Australian high country.

The distillery offers visitors the chance to sample a wide variety of schnapps that is likely to still appeal even to those who aren't big drinkers – they come with a low alcohol content meaning you're able to try a broad range of tastes without becoming overly intoxicated. The flavour spectrum available here is comprehensive, and you can expect to come across the likes of peach, butterscotch, Pink Lady apple and other standard tastes as well as some more unusual varieties available to sample – including the chilli-infused “Devil's Tongue”. There's also the chance to purchase gift boxes containing multiple types which can be taken home to enjoy once more or given to friends who enjoy a drink.

Wild Brumby's restaurant is also distinctive and original as far as most Australian offerings go, integrating a heavy German/European influence as the menu contains items such as bacon and egg rolls, sauerkraut, strudel and various other staples of this kind of cuisine mixed in with some Aussie touches. Visitors to the Distillery will be able to enjoy some great alfresco dining amongst the greenery that features cherry bushes, sunflowers and other colourful touches while the backdrop of the mountains looms in the distance. There's even a quirky sculpture garden containing some distinctive man-made forms, and all of this alongside a very colonial-era building that features a lot of wood-and-copper décor harking back to the days of yore.

Capping everything off is the generally excellent customer service that is conducted with obvious passion for their establishment and makes every guest feel welcome. Whether for morning tea, lunch or dinner, if you're in the Jindabyne area this unique dining opportunity in wonderful rural surrounds is not to be missed.

9. Eucumbene Trout Farm

This is a part of Australia that is renowned for the purity of its waters, and thus it's only fitting that the Snowy Mountains are home to an eclectic mix of rivers, lakes and other various catchments that serve as prime fishing spots for anglers of all levels of ability. Of course, not all travellers to the Snowies are going to be seasoned fishing veterans, and so first timers and those with kids alike will want to look for alternative options than splashing feet-first into the nearest lake unawares. Enter the Eucumbene Trout Farm, an attraction slash natural lake that allows aspiring fishermen of all ages to try their hand at catching a trout.

Blessed with wonderful hosts who are more than willing to accommodate kids and set amongst typically beautiful Snowy Mountains lake/countryside scenery, visitors can choose between either a full-blown fishing experience on the expansive 6 hectare lake, or a more controlled fishing option in the small “sure-catch tanks”. It's a “guaranteed satisfaction” approach that allows the logical progression from an unsuccessful fish in the lakes to the more surefire catch of the tanks, meaning you'll almost certainly come away with something while here. While fly fishing is popular in the region, guests who visit Eucumbene have the opportunity to use a standard rod-and-reel combo as well, so any difficulties for children or those who can't quite get the hand of the fly can still come away with a catch.

Patience is key here, as fishing – even in smaller freshwater areas – is dependent on the fish themselves, and thus guests are able to relax on the deck with a tasty and freshly-prepared coffee while they wait for the bite to happen. Any caught fish are scaled and gutted for visitors to enjoy then and there, and there are barbecue facilities on-site where fish can be cooked using a tasty garlic-and-herb mix then eaten in a pleasant outdoor picnic area. Side dishes such as salads and chips are sold for purchase as well, so it's possible to make a complete meal out of things.

Tours of the farm are also available for those who wish to have a more detailed look and see the animals and other natural highlights, which provides an extra layer of context to this part of the region. Located just a 30 minute drive from both Jindabyne and Cooma, this is the perfect spot to have the sensation of "catching a whopper" in the Snowy Mountains and coming away with some fresh fish to sample straight from the water.

8. Kosciuszko Brewery

Banjo Paterson is a name that's synonymous with the Snowy Mountains as a whole, and it's at the inn of his namesake that you'll find the home of the region's most highly-regarded drop of amber – the Kosciuszko Brewery. Established back in 2009, this microbrewery is responsible for the on-site production of the wonderful Kosciuszko Pale Ale that's sure to appeal to all fans of a beverage and boasts a light, fruity taste that makes it exceedingly easy to drink. The beer possesses a taste that's distinctly different from most other popular Australian beers and is both clean and satisfying. If you're heading into Jindabyne and have even a passing interest in sampling regional beer, this is thus an essential stop.

Of course, none of this would matter if the facility it's produced in wasn't so easily accessible or in such a nice location, and the Banjo Paterson Inn – with its aspect overlooking Lake Jindabyne – offers excellent, old-fashioned pub style accommodation with frequent live entertainment to boot. Part hotel, part pub, part nightclub and part brewery, the Inn is one of the spots in Jindabyne that truly has “atmosphere” - the bar area has an upbeat vibe with friendly staff, and many travellers enjoying themselves throughout the year. There's something going on here in all seasons, from musical performances to trivia nights, and while it can get rowdy at times it's never overly hostile.

Food here is served in generous portions and the quality is generally quite good overall, with a terrific breakfast that's included in the price of your accommodation should you choose to stay here. The outlook over the lake is the main highlight (other than the attached Kosciuszko Brewery's beer), and as a result if you're travelling to Jindabyne and beyond during non-peak season, be sure to ask for a lakeside room for the best possible views. The Inn and Brewery's location at the entrance to Jindabyne means it's located not far from the snow fields and thus convenient for skiers looking for an easy place to return too of an evening. Add to this a range of restaurants nearby and location plays a key role in choosing this as a spot to lay your head.

It's the brewery section and its produce that make this spot more than just a hotel, however, and with the touch of having the copper brew kettles in public view near the entrance there's persistent reminders that simply staying for a few hours and sampling a beverage or three is well worth your while. If you're staying in Jindabyne then visiting here is a no-brainer, however if you're passing through and wanting to try a refreshing draught of the good stuff then it's well worth the small diversion.

7. The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre

While nature is perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Snowy Mountains region, the influence of mankind on the area is also a showcase of some truly amazing feats of what humans are capable of. The Snowy Mountains Scheme – one of the most ambitious accomplishments of engineering in Australian history – is our country's most significant example of this, and the extensive array of tunnels, dams, pipelines and power stations still plays a large role in the infrastructure of NSW to this day. As one of the region's most iconic institutions, if you're interested in learning more about the construction, operation, and sheer scale of the Scheme then the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre is an essential stop.

While “educational” attractions may not initially sound too appealing, the sheer scale and scope of the Snowy Mountains Scheme makes for an interesting sightseeing concept, the majority of which is detailed by the excellent Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre located at Cooma. Featuring an array of detailed displays with lots of information and facts about the workers on the Scheme and their associated achievements, it's a great starting point to do before heading out to the nearby power station proper. Details of the Scheme are explained on a geographical, historic and technical level via some immensely informative curated materials as well as from the highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff.

Details of the Scheme are explained on a geographical, historic and technical level via a range of different curated materials – such as photos, artefacts and short films - as well as from the highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff themselves. It begins with the facility's theatre that shows a feature film that provides a visual and aural background of the Snowy Mountains Scheme from start to finish, and helps in making its complicated layout and construction more easy to understand for the average visitor. There's also a screen showing a depiction of the current working areas of the hydroelectric system in action, and plenty of other tidbits to read and absorb while you're exploring.

There's even the chance to determine how much electrical power you can generate yourself by riding a bike, and other interactive displays help keep things interesting for younger visitors. The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre also has a gift shop with some surprisingly unique souvenirs, as well as a pleasant area to have some excellent coffee. Given that it's an attraction with free entry and that provides a wholesome experience that lasts around 2 hours if you don't rush, this haven of knowledge is well worth a visit whether you're particularly passionate about Australian history or not.

6. Get Pampered at the Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa

The Snowy Mountains are largely a destination based around adventure and exploring the “great outdoors”, but that doesn't mean visitors to the region aren't entitled to some relaxation and pampering while there. Long a popular spot for secluded getaways, weddings and other special occasions, it's a resort-come-hideaway that sits nestled on the border of the Kosciuszko National Park with an outlook that includes the panorama of Lake Crackenback itself. While it's a hub for all sorts of activities nearby (some others of which are detailed further below), the resort also offers a spa complex that allows visitors some indulgent physical treatments all within the midst of these wonderful surrounds.

Named the Spa & Wellness Centre, this facility attached to the resort offers an extensive range of treatments, massages, facials and other indulgent courses to take part in, and when coupled with the general serene environs it's a dose of pure Aussie relaxation at its finest. Consisting of five separate treatment rooms – including couples' rooms should you be looking for a dose of romantic pampering – visitors can take part in the likes of deep-tissue massages, hot stone treatments and other assorted methods designed to get the kinks out and alleviate muscular aches and pains. Add to this detailed manicures and pedicures, and almost every kind of pampering procedure is available here.

Staff at the Spa & Wellness Centre know their techniques well while being friendly and courteous yet not overly intrusive, and the quality of the materials and furniture here makes the relaxation experience all the more fulfilling – organic materials and soft, natural features lend an aura of tranquility. Likewise, heated beds make for a delightful contrast with the typically chilly wind that's blowing just outside, and all of the facilities are in immaculate condition which adds to the sense of overall luxury. The serenity of the setting obviously helps in this regard, too – there's no traffic noise or other noisy disruptions that can often occur at bigger or busier resorts to break the relaxing atmosphere.

Situated in a convenient spot approximately halfway between popular Snowy Mountains ski spots Thredbo and Jindabyne, the Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa's location allows those staying here the benefit of experiencing the best of both locations as well as making it viable to reach if travelling from each spot too. While it's not the cheapest of spots to indulge, if you're wanting to treat yourself and are staying in any of the ski towns nearby then getting a dose of rejuvenation here is well worth the investment.

5. Explore and Hike Kosciuszko

Australia's highest mountain is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the entire Snowy Mountains region, and its surrounding national park also offers a cavalcade of natural spectacles that embody pure and pristine alpine Australia. While not everyone will have the stamina to climb to the peak, Kosciuszko is unlike many country's “tallest mountains” in that it's fairly accessible to get to the peak. Local operator K7 Adventures provide a range of walking itineraries that cover both ends of the walking spectrum, and regardless of if you're looking to be guided on a leisurely half-day stroll through some easy yet spectacular highlights or embrace the challenge of Kosciuszko itself, all bases are covered here.

The Snowy Mountains was voted by the Australian public as #6 on our list of Australia's 10 Most Epic Walks, and it's not hard to see why; the region blends ancient glacial landscapes draped in alpine wildflowers in the warmer months and snow-dusted peaks in cool periods, as well as offering dramatic and sweeping 360 degree views in many places. Literally hundreds of kilometres of walking trails are on offer here, and as a result the opportunities for customising a walking journey in the Snowy mountains are nearly endless. Exactly which walking trail will appeal to you will likely depend on a variety of factors including your own fitness level, time you wish to allocate, and budget constraints.

Those wishing to take things easy and literally “stop and smell the flowers” can opt for the popular either of the Mount Stillwell or Alpine Wildflower walks which spans half a day and covers a distance of roughly 4 and 7km, respectively. There's an emphasis here on taking a route where the alpine flora is at their best and brightest, with plenty of time to take photos and admire the landscape, as well as providing a stunning overview of the main Kosciuszko range. Extend things up a notch by taking the 10km walks to either Dead Horse Gap or the Ramsheads, and you'll get an extended dose of additional scenery such as dramatic rock formations, rare and distinct plant communities and iconic snow gum trees.

Of course, all of these are enjoyable but pale in comparison to the hike up Kosciuszko proper, and the so-called “Rooftop of Australia” does not disappoint in its offerings as climbing the mountain (during good weather) yields a blend of picturesque photo opportunities and panoramas. As with most other alpine regions the climate plays a large factor in not only enjoyment but also safety, and weather conditions that can swiftly change make for perilous going. As a result, hiking during the summer season is highly recommended, and those embarking on the journey should consider being accompanied by a guide for the duration.

Individuals and small groups are taken on a scenic route up Kosciuszko with a local experience provider to fully appreciate the environment on a family-friendly trail, and thus even children can enjoy the spectacle on offer in this unique part of the Aussie high country.

4. Take a Snowy Vineyard Estate Winery Tour

Beer and schnapps aren't the only options for indulging your palate in the Snowy Mountains region, as wine also plays a role here and there are a number of small scale wineries and vineyards on offer to visitors. The Snowy Vineyard Estate is a solid choice among these, particularly for families visiting the area as it's much more of a family-style farm environment than your standard, run-of-the-mill corporate cellar door. As a result there are farm animals here, so while adults are busy enjoying their samplings and tastings, the kids can run free on the large, open grassed area or get up close with the likes of guinea pigs, chickens, and pigs.

This is a hybrid vineyard/distillery/brewery and thus provides the chances to sample wines, schnapps and beers all at one locale that also doubles as a restaurant, and it's hard to determine what is the standout as each culinary offering is of a distinctly high standard. The wines here are quite distinctive due to the use of cool-climate grapes (with the ice wine a standout), and the staff on hand are friendly and open about the wines and provide generous samplings during their tours. It's an operation that's small and personal rather than clean-cut and corporate, and it never feels rushed or like you're being pressured to purchase more to take home.

Beer wise, there's quite a comprehensive selection of varieties here as well, and the Estate offers a course of 6 beer samplers capped off with a full-sized schooner of your favourite of these for a very reasonably $10 investment. Combine enjoying your drink of choice with a meal from the restaurant – again, very high standard and offers a fairly diverse menu given the relatively small scale of the facility – and take your time on the verandah overlooking the wonderful scenery, and it's hard not to feel content with the world while here.

The Snowy Vineyard Estate Winery is situated in a spot that's a bit out of the way – expect roughly a 45 minute drive from Jindabyne – but the down-to-earth nature of the hosts and tastes on offer here make the highly-scenic drive well worth it. The road is mostly dirt but the consistency is decent, and self-driving is definitely a viable option, particularly if you're planning to stay at the cottage overnight. Alternatively, we offer tours of the Estate with pickups from either Canberra or Jindabyne included, so if you're looking to indulge in a significant amount of alcohol and simply relax and enjoy the scenery each way, then the extra investment may be well worth it.

3. River Sled at Lake Crackenback

The waters of the Snowy Mountains' Lake Crackenback and Thredbo River aren't just pretty to look at, they also serve as the hub for a myriad of aquatic activities that visitors to the region can take part in. One of the more recent – and fun – additions to this lineup is river sledding, an experience that mixes the best bits of sightseeing, whitewater rafting and bodyboarding all in one. It's an activity that the whole family can enjoy during the warmer months in the region requiring no prior experience, and an accurate symbol of how the Snowy Mountains as a whole is much more than a one-trick-pony of skiing and snowboarding during the winter months.

The experience involves suiting up in a protective, layered full-body wetsuit as even the warmest part of the Snowy Mountains' calendar still involves waters that can range from “chilly” to “chilling”, and then climbing aboard a purpose-built river sled. The sleds resemble some kind of hybrid between a bodyboard and a li-lo pool lounge, however they handle remarkably well and are designed for stability having been designed in New Zealand for the goal of negotiating river rapids. There are few more unique ways to see the sights of the Thredbo River than this, and the Kosciuszko National Park's inherent beauty takes on an entirely new perspective when viewed from the water.

The journey starts from the Thredbo River Diggings and propels riders all the way down to Lake Crackenback itself, starting off slowly and smoothly at first but taking on a whole other atmosphere once the first group of rapids are encountered. Tuition and reassuring guidance is given from the tour guides along the way, however, and they do a good job of ensuring that participants are comfortable in the water. Varying grades of rapids make an appearance on the course, however they're all low-level with a maximum grade of 3 only occurring in one spot, and the consequences for being dismounted from your sled are never severe.

While there are other ways to explore the Snowy Mountains, there are few that are more unique than a river sled tour – this is the only spot in Australia where such an experience is available. River sledding tours depart daily from early November through to mid-June (warmer season only) from Lake Crackenback Resort, so if you're visiting the Snowy Mountains during summer there's never a better time to try something that's new and exhilarating.

2. Go Horse Riding with Snowy Wilderness

In Australian folklore, there are few things more iconic of the Snowy Mountains than the humble horse. Detailed in Banjo Paterson's famed Man from Snowy River and the primary form of both transport and assisted labour in early Australian development of the region, horses are as intertwined with this part of Australia as the waters that flow through it, and as a result there are few experiences more essential than hopping on horseback and taking a ride through the ruggedly beautiful landscape rich with bushland, Snow Gums, creeks and wildlife.

Local operator Snowy Wilderness offer a range of horse riding tours suitable for a range of ages and ability levels, giving the average visitor the chance at journey that harks back to the days of earlier, untouched Australia. Based out of a resort/cottage nestled in the high country, the rides take participants on a route that doesn't follow the typical well-worn tourist track that many other horse rides do; instead, it's right into the heart of the bush for a truly authentic experience on one of the beautiful paths that wind their way through the some 7500 acres of bush in the property. The horses themselves are also a major highlight, as they're all not only well-trained but obviously well cared for by their owners, with horses paired to their rider based on character and ability level. Responsive and calm, you'll soon find yourself at ease on the back of one of these lovely, intelligent creatures.

The emphasis here is placed on providing a realistic, true-to-life horse riding experience rather than an overly strict nose-to-tail ride, and as a result first time riders may feel slightly skittish at first. Care provided by the guides soon helps to alleviate these concerns, however, and soon you'll find yourself focusing more on the scenery and keeping an eye out for the likes of wallabies, deer and even wild Brumbies that call the area home. The views on offer along the majority of the riding courses are likewise outstanding, with paths that head both up and down a mountain offering various viewpoints of the impressive surroundings and blend of streams, trees and more.

Your choice of ride itinerary with Snowy Wilderness can be an option as short as a 2-hour taster to get your feet wet, all the way up to optional multi-day treks, however the single full-day option provides perhaps the best overall balance of length, scenery and preserving your buttocks from extended soreness. If you're after a horse riding experience that's much more than your average trail ride through some of the most significant surroundings in Australia to do so – and are willing to push yourself slightly if you're a beginner – then this is an adventure through the wilderness that is sure to impress.

1. Hit the Slopes at Thredbo or Perisher

There's no denying it – the Snowy Mountains more than earn the name they were given. As one of only two locations in Australia that receives large, natural snowfall during the winter months (the other being Tasmania), the Snowy Mountains serve as the location of the “purest” possible wintersport activities and as such are one of the top spots in the country for those wanting some winter fun. While it's home to four major ski resorts, Thredbo and Perisher are by far the most famous and offer the largest array of both facilities and opportunities for ski enthusiasts and non-skiers alike. Exactly which ski spot of the two appeals to you will depend on how you plan to spend your time there, and each has its own pros and cons for visitors.

Perisher or Thredbo, which is better for me?

Perisher is the larger of the two, and generally has more overall variety in its runs as it's basically a combined blend of multiple resorts in one. As a result, beginning skiiers will likely want to choose Perisher – the variety of runs means that there's also more choice available for beginners, and the slopes at Perisher tend to be shorter overall. Advanced skiers and boarders will also find the selection of different runs here more varied than those of Thredbo, so if you're the type who gets bored of repetition this may work in Perisher's favour. Perisher thus provides the major positive of being able to spend an entire day on the snow without doing the same run twice, and boredom will rarely crop up as a result.

Non-skiers will find Perisher good in some regards and lacking in others; there isn't a true “village” here to speak of, and the dining and shopping options are limited with little to no nightlife. Generally, if the weather turns sour, there is little to do at Perisher, and it takes a fair amount of across-snow walking to get form A to B. On the positive side, there's also more variety in non-ski activities and snow recreation as toboganning, tubing and other family-friendly experiences are all catered for with more space to enjoy them. Perisher's sheer size compared to Thredbo also means the average visitor is more likely to be able to find an open corner of snow to themselves.

Thredbo, meanwhile, also has some positives working in its favour – advanced skiers will enjoy the longer and steeper runs on offer, and if you're a die-hard at all things wintery this will likely be the major factor working in its favour. Those looking for nightlife and off-slope entertainment will likely find the atmosphere of Thredbo more satisfying, as unlike Perisher it doesn't practically “die” after dark. Thredbo village is quite charming in and of itself, and the fact that it offers the convenience of being based “right in the snow” with a range of facilities around scores points for convenience as well. There's a range of shopping, restaurants and accommodation options to choose from that Perisher cannot fully compete with.

Getting around Thredbo is likewise easier due to its logical layout and well-run shuttle bus system. As far as cons go, Thredbo is typically more expensive than Perisher due to more limited options overall, while it's also harder to find a private piece of run even though Perisher has more visitors in total. In all, the simplest way to break things down would be: beginning skiers: Perisher, more advanced skiers: Thredbo.

The second major choice those looking to ski in the Snowy Mountains will face is whether to stay “on snow” or at nearby Jindabyne and take transport in; Jindabyne is typically used as the accommodation base for budget-conscious travellers, and given its equal distance between both Perisher and Thredbo it can serve this function for both areas. Driving to the Snowy Mountains' ski fields from Sydney can be quite a chore, and takes around 5.5 hours, while Melbourne has an even more length 7 hour drive time. Flying is possible from Canberra, and it's possible to get cheap flights by scouring the websites of Australia's budget carriers.

While ski enthusiasts who are looking to ski domestically do have other options, for those wanting the best overall ski conditions the Snowy Mountains is the obvious choice. For all its varying natural and historical charms, the Snowy Mountains' namesake remains its top thing to do.

In addition, if you're looking for all the top things to see and do in the Snowy Mountains including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways throughout Australia.