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THE SNOWY MOUNTAINS - Alpine High Country
The Snowy Mountains are found in the south of the state roughly between the Hume and Monaro Highways and along the Snowy
Mountains Highway which runs from near Gundagi to join the Monaro Highway above Cooma. It includes Australia's highest peak in Mt.
Koscuiszko (2,228 metres-app 7310ft) and holds the snow resorts of the New South Wales alps. Skiing in Australia is seasonal with snowfalls in winter
(Mainly June, July and August depending on conditions).
At other time the alps are popular places for climbing and bush walking.
It was first explored by Europeans in 1835, and in 1840, Edmund Strzelecki climbed and named Mount Kosciuszko
after a Polish war hero, General Tadeusz Koscuiszko. High country stockmen followed who used the Snowy Mountains for grazing during the summer months.
Banjo Paterson's famous poem 'The Man From Snowy River' recalls this era. Cattle graziers have left a legacy of
mountain huts scattered across the area which are maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service or volunteer
The discovery of gold in the high country near Kiandra in the 19th century led to a mini gold rush which saw
some 4,000 people at Kiandra which then had 14 hotels. Kiandra became a ghost
town of ruins and abandoned diggings after the last residents left in 1914.
The Kosciuszko National Park came into existence as the National Chase Snowy Mountains on 5 December 1906. In 1944
this became the Kosciuszko State Park, and then the Kosciuszko National Park in 1967.
Recreational skiing began at Kiandra in the 1860s and flourished in the 20th century following the commencement
of the massive Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme between 1949 and 1976 and in particular, the construction of Guthega
Dam, brought many European workers to the district and opened up access to the ranges.
Skifields around Kosciusko were established during this period, though their existence is now little
realised. The Australian Alpine Club was founded in 1950 by Charles Anton. Huts were constructed in the "Backcountry"
close to Mount Kosciusko, including Kunama Hut, which opened for the 1953 season. A rope tow was installed on Mount
Northcote at the site and opened in 1954. The site proved excellent for speed skiing, but the hut was destroyed in
an avalanche, which also killed one person, in 1956.
Anton also recognised the potential of the Thredbo Valley for construction of a major resort and village, with good
vertical terrain. Construction began in 1957. Today, Thredbo has 14 ski-lifts and possesses Australia's longest
ski resort run, the 5.9 km from Karel's T-Bar to Friday Flat; Australia's greatest vertical drop of 672m; and the
highest lifted point in Australia at 2037 m.
Today, there are several main ski resorts in the area. Thredbo, Charlottes Pass, Perisher Valley, Mount Blue Cow and
The last establishment of a major skifield in NSW came with the development of Mount Blue Cow in the 1980s. In 1987
the Swiss designed Skitube Alpine Railway opened to deliver skiers from Bullocks Flat, on the Alpine Way, to Perisher
Valley and to Blue Cow, which also opened in 1987. The operators of Blue Cow purchased Guthega in 1991, and the
new combined resort later merged with Perisher-Smiggins to become the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere.
In 2009 Perisher had 48 lifts covering 1,245 hectares and four village base areas: Perisher Valley, Blue Cow,
Smiggin Holes and Guthega.
ACCOMMODATION & SERVICES:
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Information is available from the Visitor Centres in the district.
GETTING THERE BY ROAD
The best way to reach the snowfields by car is via the Monaro Hwy between Cooma and Canberra, or along the Snowy
Mountains Hwy between Gundagai and Cooma. In winter you will need chains to access the ski resorts and 4WD
There ts a major airport at Canberra.