Canberra Accommodation

Skiing and Outdoor Activities

More adventurous activities can be experienced in the mountains, especially during winter, when the ski resorts of Thredbo and Perisher (see nearby places) come alive. Just a two-hour drive south of Canberra, the Snowy Mountains are Australia's highest peaks and offer an annual ski season from June to August, and sometimes through September.

In keeping with Australians' propensity to abbreviate, this area is known as 'The Snow' or 'The Snowies' , and includes the Kosciusko National Park (www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au), named for Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciusko. Although not strictly alpine and only snow-covered in winter, Australia's mountains contain unique flora and fauna, such as the fabled snow gum (eucalyptus pauciflora). The ski resorts here are Thredbo, and those in the Perisher Valley: Perisher Blue, Smiggin Holes, Charlottes Pass, Blue Cow and the Selwyn Snowfields. Some cloud-seeding does take place to increase the snow skiing season.

Skiing in Thredbo is generally for the more experienced skier, although there are some nursery and lower-level slopes, such as Fridays Flat, suitable for children and beginners. The fast and steep runs for which Thredbo's famous are accessible by both chair- and draglifts. The Kosciuszko Express chairlift ride from Thredbo will take you on an exhilarating ride up towards Mt Kosciusko and the Eagles Nest Mountain Hut, Australia's highest restaurant at 1940m.

If you are wondering about the discrepancies in the spelling of Kosciusko – sometimes Kosciuszko - this is because the area's European discoverer, Count Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, named the mountain after the Polish patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko, but misspelled his name. Although the Geographical Names Board corrected the spelling, Strzelecki's version has endured. There are some strange anomalies in this story: it is argued that Strzelecki may have in fact climbed nearby Mt Townsend, not the highest peak; and that he named the mountain not for the hero but for the shape of his tomb in Krakow.

During the warmer months, bushwalking and horseriding become the preferred activities in the mountains, as well as white-water rafting, water skiing on the alpine lakes and trout fishing. At this time of the year (November to February) carpets of wildflowers cover the ground in delicate colours of pinks, yellows and purples. The pristine waters of the nascent rivers and cool mountain air make this a perfect place for a clean, green holiday. However, the summer is also the season of bushfires. Always be aware of fire danger warnings, never light an open fire in the bush and take extreme care with matches, cigarette butts etc.

The Snowy Mountains are the setting for The Man from Snowy River, Banjo Paterson's classic, and perhaps Australia's best-known poem. The romantic vision of the tough, wiry man and his courageous horse lives on in the country people of this area. Some of the simple mountain huts of the cattlemen are preserved and, while the cattle themselves may have gone, the scenery remains untouched and the wild and remote mountains beckon the adventurous as they have always done.

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