Jindabyne Scenic Drives
The Snowy Mountains are home to Australia’s highest peaks in Kosciuszko National Park, popular alpine villages and ski resorts and a network of scenic drives and touring routes that meander through the diverse landscapes of the Australian Alps. The valleys, plains, bluffs and gorges are scattered with glacial lakes, limestone caves, enchanting woodlands and historic gold-rush towns with a rich heritage that tell tales of a bygone era. Encounter Australia’s native wildlife of possums, kangaroos and wild brumbies roaming free and discover the untouched beauty of snow-capped peaks and Australia’s high-country.
The town of Jindabyne is the perfect escape for high-altitude adventures in the heart of the Snowy Mountains and a great base for scenic drives in the Snowy Mountains. There are two main scenic routes to explore, Kosciuszko Alpine Way and Snowy Mountain Highway.
The Kosciuszko Alpine Way
Driving through the Snowy Mountains on the iconic Kosciuszko Alpine Way is a memory captured forever and never forgotten. Alpine Way opened in 1956 linking Jindabyne in the south to the historic town of Khancoban tucked into the western foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
Alpine Way winds through tall mountain forests and the western fall of the Main Range in the Kosciuszko National Park. Entry fees are required for Kosciuszko National Park and are dependent on season, size of vehicle and number of passengers. Please check online for park entry fees and current alerts.
Snowy Mountain Highway
The Snowy Mountain Highway runs through Australia’s high-country from the mining town of Cooma through Adaminaby, an anglers haven on the banks of Lake Eucumbene and onto the charming town of Tumut (“quiet resting place by the river”).
This scenic Snowy Mountain route is open year round with the best views of the Snowy Mountains at every sharp bend and turn. Venture past the ski fields of Mt. Selwyn, remote high plains, scenic alpine lakes and historic limestone caves.
Best Day Trips & Scenic Drives in Jindabyne
These iconic Jindabyne driving routes rate as Australia’s most scenic drives with steep narrows, hairpin turns, dramatic views, deep blue alpine lakes, spring wildflowers and snow-capped peaks year-round. Whichever direction your compass leads, there are scenic drives close to Jindabyne that will take your breath away and have you wishing you’d booked an extended stay with Snow Escape Holidays to explore the Snowy Mountains further! Here’s a few of our favorite day trips and scenic drives in and around Jindabyne.
Distance: 20 kms round trip
Driving Time: 10 minutes
Best: All year
The Gaden Trout Hatchery is only a short 10 minute drive from Jindabyne. The hatchery is situated on the banks of the Thredbo River in a beautiful park-like setting and is perfect for a fun family day trip from Jindabyne. Take an interactive, educational guided tour of the hatchery, ride bikes along the Thredbo Valley Track or float the Thredbo River in the warmer months. You can BBQ on the banks of the river or let us arrange a picnic lunch or delicious grazing plate for the trip!
Distance: 140 kms round trip
Driving Time: 1/2 or all day
Best: Summer only
From the Gaden Trout Hatchery, turn left onto Kosciuszko Rd and continue 40km to Guthega. This scenic route takes you through the ghost town of Island Bend on the Snowy River and onto the small alpine resort town of Guthega, part of the Perisher Valley Ski Resort. Enjoy an abundance of on-mountain and backcountry winter sports or take the Skitube Alpine Railway to access the Perisher Range ski fields. Visit the Guthega Power Station, the first in the Snowy Scheme and take a hike on the Schlink Hut Walking Track for great views down the Perisher Valley. For added scenery return to Kosciuszko Road via the Smiggins Link dirt road.
Distance: 80 kms round trip
Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Best: Summer only
Charlotte’s Pass is Australia’s highest ski resort at 1765m that is completely snowbound in the winter months and accessible by car only in the summer months. This scenic route winds through the Perisher Valley and Ski area and onto Charlottes Pass Village. Stop to picnic next to the scenic Sawpit Creek then begin your climb up the mountains past Sponars Chalet, built as the staff quarters for the Old Kosciuszko Hotel which burnt down in April 1951. Just past the bridge after Sponars on the left look for the cross of wildflowers which blooms in spring. These were planted by an owner of a dog that perished in the fire and still bloom every year.
At Charlotte’s Pass take a stroll through the Kosciuszko Chalet and drive to the turning circle to view the spectacular main range from the boardwalk lookout. Make sure you walk right to the end to view the Snowy River to Guthega! In the summer months, Charlotte’s Pass is the starting point for the Main Range walk or Mt. Kosciusko Summit walk to Australia’s highest mountain.
Distance: 280 kms round trip
Driving Time: xxx hours
Best: Summer only
Alpine Way from Jindabyne to Khancoban is spectacular with an abundance of local attractions, native wildlife and breathtaking alpine vistas along the way. Pack your mountain bikes, hiking boots, fly rods and a delicious grazing picnic plate and head for a day in Australia’s high-country. The road follows Wollondibby Creek and the first stop is the Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery, the highest distillery in Australia with boutique schnapps, gins and vodkas for tasting, a raspberry farm, sculpture gardens and café.
Back on the road you’ll head through Crackenback to the picturesque alpine village of Thredbo. The scenic Kosciuszko Express chairlift at Thredbo rises 560 vertical meters up the Ramshead Range and is the easiest way to reach the summit of Mt Kosciuszko for spectacular viewing. From here, Alpine Way goes through Dead Horse Gap, named after the discovery of wild brumby skeletons, onto Pilot Lookout and passing through Murray Gorge and Murray Gates, home to exhilarating white water rafting.
At Geehi junction a winding dirt road takes you to Olsen’s Lookout, the perfect spot to unpack your picnic and admire the Main Range up close, or head a little further north on Alpine Way to Scammel’s Lookout for more Snowy Mountain views.
Final stop Khancoban, the construction town for one of the great feats of world engineering, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme and home to the Murray One Power Station and Visitors Station. Visit the power station, explore the rose gardens or relax at the Khancoban Pondage before heading home. If you continue on, Khancoban to Kiandra Drive is a scenic route through the Kosciusko National Park that links to the Snowy Mountain Highway.
Distance: 85 kms round trip
Driving Time: 1.5 hours
Best: All year
Head out of Jindabyne on the Snowy River Way towards the riverside hamlet of Dalgety, a preferred site for Australia’s national capital in 1903. Cross the Snowy River at Dalgety & stop for picnic and swim, or have lunch on the banks of the river at the Dalgety Pub in the historic Buckley’s Crossing Hotel. Keep an eye out for a Platypus! Pick up a map of the town from the Iona Gardens Café & Nursery for a self-guided historic town and river walk with 26 places of interest to discover. Next stop is the Snowy Vineyard and Microbrewery, an iconic attraction in the Snowy Mountains where Australia’s finest cold climate premium wines are grown on the banks of the Snowy River and a variety of brews on tap for tasting.
Drive through the undulating, treeless Monaro Plains and sheep country to Berridale, where towering Poplars welcome you to Main Street. Visit the old school house, shops and galleries before continuing on the loop back to Jindabyne.
Distance: 128 kms round trip
Driving Time: 43 mins
The gold rush town of Cooma is the historic center of the fascinating Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, the largest town in the Snowy Mountains and the gateway to the northern Kosciuszko National Park. Before reaching Cooma stop to admire the unsurpassed views of the Monaro plains and the extinct volcanos “The Brothers” at the Mt. Gladstone Lookout and don’t leave before sampling an Austrian Pancake at Miss Heid’s Austrian Tea House. Cooma has endless attractions to explore. Learn about one of the engineering wonders of the modern world at the Snowy Hydro Discovery Center, enjoy three heritage listed areas on the Lambie Town Walk, take a tour of the New South Wales Corrective Services Museum or book a self-drive tour of the Private Gardens of Monaro.
Take a slow, scenic drive home to Jindabyne and treat yourself with a platter and wine-tasting at the award-winning Shut the Gate Winery in Berridale. The perfect way to end a scenic drive in the Snowy Mountains.
Distance: 240 kms round trip
Driving Time: Full day
Best in: Summer only
Travel north from Jindabyne on the Snowy Mountain Highway, through Kiandra Gold Town to the breathtaking Yarrangobilly Caves and Thermal Pool. These fascinating and unusual limestone caverns lie in the deep gorges of the Yarrangobilly River Valley and are said to date back 440 million years. Explore the stalagmites and stalactites with a local Aboriginal tour guide and end with a river walk to the thermal pools stemming from the underground hot springs.
The adventures are not over! A few hundred meters north of Yarrangobilly Caves turn right onto Long Plain Road, a dusty dirt road that leads you into Wild Brumby territory to admire these captivating creatures in the wild. Let us pack you a picnic lunch or delicious grazing plate for the trip, stop off at the Adaminaby Bakery for country style treats for the road trip home and grab a photo opportunity with the Big Trout!
Distance: 350 kms round trip
Driving Time: Full day
Best: Year round
Take a day trip from the high-country to the scenic Sapphire Coast, a coastal wilderness of unspoiled beaches, old growth forests and laid-back seaside villages. Drive through the open plains of the Monaro to the rainforests of Brown Mountain, into the lush Bega Valley before reaching the seaside town of Merimbula, the heart of the Sapphire Coast. Suggested stops along the way include the historic flour mill at Nimmitabel with a great bakery and the famous Bega Cheese Factory for cheese sampling and milkshakes overlooking the Bega River.
Merimbula is a prime whale watching spot on Australia’s Humpback Highway. From August to November migrating whales make their great trek south to Antarctica and whale watching in Merimbula is a major attraction. Enjoy fresh Pamula & Merimbula oysters & seafood at the seaside restaurants or let us arrange a picnic lunch or delicious grazing plate for the trip! Soak up the laid back coastal vibe at the boardwalk cafes and tourist shops, stroll the shoreline around Merimbula River or play a round of golf if time permits. A memorable scenic drive from Australia’s high-country to coast.