Travel period 20-26 Dec 2015
When we were planning to go camping over summer, Kosciuszko National Park was the place that came to mind. It is most famous for its snow sports, and its rugged alpine landscape make it an adventure playground all year round.
So, four days before Christmas 2015 we packed our sense of adventure for this unforgettable drive from Melbourne, towing an off-road camper trailer, through the magnificent Snowy Mountains.
Kosciuszko NP in Brief
Kosciuszko National Park is New South Wales’s largest National Park. It is home to Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, and the Snowy River in the Snowy Mountains region.
During winter, it is one of the best places in the country for skiing and snowboarding. All New South Wales alpine resorts are within Kosciuszko National Park; Perisher Blue, Charlotte Pass, Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfield.
In the warmer months this place is a favourite camping spot with world-class activities such as mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, horse riding and bushwalking.
The closest state is Canberra. It is about a three-hour drive from Canberra Airport to Kosciuszko National park. However, it is quite easy to drive to the park from either Sydney or Melbourne.
Our trip from Melbourne to Khancoban was via Wodonga and Corryong. It took us about a six hour drive to get there.
Khancoban is located about 13 kilometres from the Victorian border, in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, near the upper reaches of the Murray River, and is the gateway to the Kosciuszko National Park and Australia’s High Country. By late afternoon we arrived in the tiny town of Khancoban and soon we discovered bushfires around Khancoban Alpine Way between Khancoban and Dead Horse Gap.
We decided to stay for the night at Khancoban Alpine Inn – it is a cosy family friendly pub and motel at the base of the Snowy Mountains.
We were lucky enough to get the last vacant room as most of the rooms were booked by the firemen.
Leaving Khancoban, we joined the Alpine Way, but stopped in Khancoban Visitor Centre to check on weather conditions, road closures and to get a park pass for our Snowy Mountains adventure before heading into the park.
Continuing along The Alpine Way – a steep and narrow stretch of road that is winding through tall mountain forests and breathtaking scenery, we were to encounter a magnificent iconic road trip.
On the way we came across The Snowy Mountain Scheme – this phenomenal project is a sight to behold. It is a modern engineering hydroelectricity and irrigation complex in south-east Australia. The Scheme consists of sixteen major dams; seven power stations; a pumping station; and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts that were constructed between 1949 and 1974.
Turning right off the Alpine Way we headed toward the Geehi Walls Trail we soon arrived at Geehi Hut – also known as Airstrip or Nankervis Hut, which was originally built in 1952 by Jim Nankervis and his brother, to assist with grazing. The 11m x 9m river stone building has three rooms, including a fireplace. Near the hut is a wheelchair-accessible toilet and plenty of space for camping.
We kept driving towards Major Clews Hut – this historic mud brick was built in the late 1950s as a residence for the colourful Major Clews, a surveyor for the Snowy Mountain Scheme who mapped the area. In 1977 the hut was resumed by the National Park.
We set up camp on the side of the road not far from Major Clews Hut next to the river and very peaceful. The area was a massive, flat grassy ground with lots of shade from the snow gums, but the area is pretty remote, however, we came prepared with fuel, food and water for several days.
Waking up to a bright sun that flickered through the trees, it was not long before we hit the tracks without the camper and headed up to Mount Pinnibar – located in east of Victoria, it is one of the most challenging peaks to reach in Victoria. From its summit, you can see Mt Kosciuszko to the east, Mount Beauty to the west and the Cobberas to the south.
The track itself flattens off only for a few kilometres, but there are some steep sections that require very low tire pressures and careful driving to increase traction. The climb seemed endless and the final kilometre to the summit was rough, but the views as we crested the hill were impressive! A panoramic view from the summit was beyond imagination! It was absolutely worth the effort and climb.
It is the highest 4WD accessible track in Australia at 1772 metres. It really did challenge our skills and our vehicle, but the whole route can easily be completed within a day.
Unfortunately, we had to return to where we came from ‘what goes up must come down’. So, we retraced our steps back down and headed toward Tom Groggin Station to visit Dogman Hut – that sits beside the Murray River near the end of the Davies Plain track, at Tom Groggin. This hut was built in 1964 by the Lands Department for the dog man who worked in the area trapping feral dogs.
We called it a day from here and headed back to our camp site via The Alpine Way.
It was late afternoon by the time we reached the camp, so we kicked off our boots and watched the sun go down. The only sounds were the wind in our ears and the buzzing of a few flies.
It was an amazing day trip through the towering Mountain Alpine Ash and we really enjoyed it! However, back to the camp we were tired and hungry, so after a quick campfire dinner we headed up to our cosy rooftop tent early, which meant no stargazing tonight.
The next morning, we woke up and looked out through the tent window just in time to see the sun rise and shine through a light blanket of cloud. It was to be another brilliantly clear day. Not to waste a moment after we had our hearty breakfast, we headed to Major Clew Hut Trail – is unsealed and steep in parts. It can become boggy when it rains and involves a small creek crossing.
The scenery was beautiful as we travelled through Alpine Ash and Montane Forests balancing atop craggy ridgelines. The track itself was quite challenging as it descends steep ridges and gullies.
This is a 34 kilometres loop track from Alpine Way to Major Clews Hut connect with Geehi Walls Trail – which was a relatively easy dry weather 4WD track through the lower section of the Snowy Mountains.
While the scenery is awesome from almost any point of Kosciusko National Park, you would want to stop at Scammells lookout – 1000 metres above sea level, offers outstanding scenic views over Western Fall wilderness and Main Range, including Mount Abbott, Mount Townsend, and Carruthers Peak. In winter and spring, these summits are snow-capped, creating a spectacular sight.
Plan for today was to leave the campsite and heading towards Three Mile Dam campsite via Cabramurra.
We took the Geehi Walls Trail heads toward The Alpine Way, then turned right onto Tooma Road and we made a stop at Cabramurra – located at 1488 metres above sea level Cabramurra is ‘the third highest settlement in Australia’. It was built in 1951 and has remained a town which only exists to cater for employees of the SMA (Snowy Mountain Authority).
There are no private houses in the town and it has a small general store, a pub and a service station, all of which cater primarily for the needs of the SMA staff.
We continued on Tooma Road and turned right onto Kings Cross Road heading toward Selwyn Snow Resort – a ski resort located in the most northern part of the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council and Kosciuszko National Park. Selwyn Snowfields is located near the town of Adaminaby and is close to Cabramurra.
From here we turned left onto Tabletop Mountain Trail heads toward Snowy Mountain Hwy. Driving along the Snowy Mountain Highway, we could see a mob of wild brumbies off the side of the road, it was a lovely sight though! Following this, we turned left onto Link Road headed to Three Mile Dam Camp Ground.
We set up camp at Three Mile Dam Camp Ground – this lakeside campground is about as scenic as they come. As well as being unbeatable for fishing, bushwalking and a good dose of outdoor relaxation. There are no marked sites at this campground, but the open grassy area allows setting gives good access for camper trailers or caravans.
It is a free campsite with grassy woodland ground, surrounded by snow gums and long drop toilet provided. There were other people camping here, but it was still so peaceful and beautiful.
We went camping many times in the summer over the years, and flies were expected, however in this alpine region the march flies were very big and there were tons of them! They were vicious too! The insect repellent that we applied seemed pointless.
Dinner time was very challenging as we had to fight to keep the flies off our food. We decided to stay for one night only. As much as we loved the spot, we could not just sit, relaxing, enjoying the time passing by without the massive march flies’ disturbance. They were relentless!
We travelled back to Melbourne from Three Mile Dam via Wodonga and Benalla by Hume Hwy. We stopped at Wodonga – is the gateway to Victoria and New South Wales and one of three key cities in the Hume region, along with Shepparton and Wangaratta. We wish we could spend some times here, as nearby is the largest military museum in the country.
It was an amazing experience and great adventure. Looking forward to hooking up our XTrail camper trailer and heading to the bush real soon.
Fees and Passes
Park entry fees:
- Winter peak (Alpine Way, Kosciuszko Rd and Link Road) From start of June long weekend to end of October long weekend: $29 per vehicle per day (24hrs); motorcycles $12; bus passengers $11.45 per adult, $3.60 per child per day (24hrs). Find out more about the Winter entry surcharge.
- Rest of the year (Alpine Way and Kosciuszko Road only) $17 per vehicle per day (24hrs); motorcycles $7; bus passengers $6.60 per adult, $2.20 per child per day (24hrs).
- Yarrangobilly Caves (year-round) $4 per vehicle per day, unless park entry has been paid.
- Day passes (based on daily entry fees above)
- Multi-day passes and annual All Parks Pass available from NPWS visitor centres, local agents and operating vehicle entry stations. Read our Annual Pass FAQs for more information.
- Short Breaks Pass: $68 for 5 days park entry at price of 4 days (not valid winter). Available only at local visitor centres, and operating vehicle entry stations on Alpine Way and Kosciuszko Road. Eligible pensioners can apply for a complementary NPWS concession pass.
For more information, please visit NSW Kosciuszko National Parks website.
Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.