Some people think that all of Australia is hot all of the time. Not true. For example where I live in the elevated Southern Highlands of New South Wales, just south of Sydney, it gets pretty cold in winter. Sometimes there is frost at night and very occasionally a sprinkling of snow. Even so, Europeans and Americans who experience really harsh winters at home would probably find it a piece of cake.
Anyway, it’s only the northern half of Australia that remains warm to hot all year round, particularly above the Tropic of Capricorn that cuts through central Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. The rest is subtropical to temperate on the south-east and south-west coasts with an arid to semi-arid interior.
The Great Dividing Range extends down the entire eastern seaboard and in the south there are even mountains with alpine snow and a ski season which is happening right now – winter in the southern hemisphere.
The Snowy Mountains is a region and a mountain range in southern New South Wales containing mainland Australia’s tallest peak, Mount Kosciuszko at 2,228 metres (7,300 feet). One of Australian poet Banjo Paterson’s most famous poems is The Man from Snowy River and this is the country where the character hails from.
The Snowies, as the range is affectionately called, occupy the north-eastern half of the Australian Alps while the Victorian Alps occupy the rest. Several rivers rise from the slopes of the Snowy Mountains, including the Murray, Snowy, Tumut and Murrumbidgee.
Jindabyne is a popular alpine town that sits on the shores of the picturesque Lake Jindabyne at the edge of the Snowy Mountains. A bustling hub in winter for skiers and snowboarders heading for the slopes, in summer Jindabyne attracts plenty of people for hiking, mountain biking, fishing and water sports.
All year round there’s something for everyone in this thriving mountain town. For a birds eye view, you can take a scenic helicopter flight with Snowy Mountains Helicopters and soar high above Kosciuszko National Park, which contains Mount Kosciuszko and mainland Australia’s second-highest peak, Mount Townsend, with an elevation of 2,209 metres. You may see wild brumbies below, the free-roaming feral horse both loved and hated in Australia, depending on your perspective.
In winter it’s all about the snow, and the slopes of ski resorts Perisher and Thredbo are just a 30- minute drive from Jindabyne, or you can park the car at Bullocks Flat and catch the Swiss-designed Skitube to Perisher Valley or Blue Cow.
The slopes at Charlotte Pass can be reached via the snowcat transfer from Perisher.
In the summer months, the crystal-clear waters of Lake Jindabyne are ideal for fishing and water sports. Horse riding tours are popular around Jindabyne, with Thredbo Valley Horse Riding offering one-hour to half-day rides. There are also more than 18 kilometres of scenic mountain-bike trails to explore.
At nearby Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa, you can try a Segway tour or enjoy canoeing and fishing. We stayed here one year and were rewarded with a rare sighting of a wombat emerging from its burrow during the day. I have a photo of it somewhere but unfortunately couldn’t find it in time for this post. The resort is pictured below.
Jindabyne has plenty of top places to eat and drink. Pinot’s, a new wine bar that opened in 2021, is already a hot favourite with the locals.
There is even an Australian schnapps made from locally-sourced fruit at the Wildbrumby Distillery (above), where visitors can also stroll around the attractive grounds and sculpture gardens. Local ales can be found at Jindabyne’s Kosciuszco Brewing Company at the Banjo Paterson Inn.
Mountain bikers can enjoy the Snowies MTB Festival, a three-day mountain biking extravaganza held in Jindabyne each February. The Snowy Classic cycling event, which starts and finishes at Lake Jindabyne, is a great new addition to the event calendar that began only this year. It will be held again next year on 25 March. Finally, there are the thrills and spills of Jindabyne’s Man from Snowy River Rodeo, to be held on 28 December this year.
The drive from Sydney to Jindabyne is five hours, from Melbourne it’s seven hours and from Canberra two hours. The slopes of Thredbo and Perisher are only a 30-minute drive from Jindabyne in good conditions and the Bullocks Flat Skitube station is 20 minutes away with plenty of parking. Jindabyne has a huge range of accommodation including holiday parks, chalets, hotels, luxury homes, cottages and B&Bs.
Qantas and Regional Express (Rex) both fly from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains Airport at Cooma, with Qantas offering flights from Brisbane as well.
I no longer ski, my knees are not up to it, but I still visit occasionally in winter for the atmosphere, and in summer for the natural beauty. I can thoroughly recommend this attractive region.
Photos supplied courtesy of Destination NSW