July 7, 2020 / By Rosie Stevens
If alpine adventure and teeming wilderness are your thing, the Snowy Valleys is for you. An unmissable destination on the western side of the Snowy Mountains, it's five hours drive south from Sydney and three hours drive from Canberra. Rest assured outdoor pursuits, jaw-dropping vistas and unforgettable culinary experiences abound in this gorgeous part of the world, and luckily for you, we’ve put together a must-do list of the highlights. You’re welcome!
Fishing is one of the most popular pursuits to undertake during a trip to the Valleys, thanks to the plethora of clear flowing tailwater rivers, streams and lakes that are home to favourites like Murray cod, bream and trout.
Fly-fishers from around the country descend on the region to fish in the streams between the October long weekend and the June long weekend, when the season is open. Head to Goobarragandra, Tuross, Tumut and Bombala Rivers to find plenty of tranquil fishing. Dams can be fished year round - for more information see here.
Perhaps the easiest way to experience the delights of the Snowy Valleys is simply to immerse yourself in the stunning surrounds on a nature walk or two. There really is something for all ages and stages — whether you’re after a full day-long hike or a simple stroll to a lookout. Some trails are currently closed due to bushfire damage so please check before setting out.
The Blowering Cliffs walking track is a gorgeous 5 km return trip that is a great choice for keen native birdwatchers and serves up beautiful scenery in spades. It’s steep in sections but you’ll reap the rewards in the shape of spectacular vistas!
The new Tumbarumba to Rosewood Rail Trail is perfect for walking, cycling, pushing, pedalling and and rolling. Between the Trailheads at Wolter Cottages Tumbarumba and at McEachern Lane in Rosewood, you’ll find over 21km of sealed trail with gentle gradients and sweeping curves. You'll enjoy beautiful scenic countryside and spectacular mountainsides along the way with safe trails for the whole family to enjoy. Yarrangobilly Caves is also open for self-guided walks and access to the thermal pool.
If you’re an avid hiker looking to hit the trails, the High Plains area has plenty to see and do. Nichols Gorge, Clarke Gorge and even tracks around Khancoban will be perfect for those with a little more experience, and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular limestone gorges and cave formations, as well as plenty of birdwatching and fishing opportunities.
Other outdoor activities
If water-based pursuits are your jam, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to hone your hobby in the Snowy Valleys. Get ready for action with some canoeing and kayaking on either the Murray River—particularly at family-favourite Mannus Lake—or on the Tumut River; perfect for fast-flowing adventurers! If water-skiing is more your thing, there’s plenty on offer at Talbingo Dams and Blowering.
The Valleys are also home to kilometres of bike trails, perfect for some family-fun on two wheels! Mason’s Hill at Tumbarumba is well worth a try, boasting a 9.5km loop that’s perfect for beginners.
Where to refuel (with food and drink that is!)
After all this activity, you’re bound to be chomping at the bit for a bite to eat and a glass of something alcoholic (or two). Thankfully, the Snowy Valleys and wider region has plenty of both. Food-wise, you’re in for a treat.
Renowned restaurant Nimbo Fork offers an award-winning fine dining experience, serving up some of the country’s freshest farm-to-table produce from the neighbouring Riverina district. For a more casual experience, Simply Wholesome is your one-stop-shop for healthy yet mouth watering treats, while Cafe Nest in Tumbarumba offers an entirely unique experience combining food, coffee, movies and a boutique cinema. The Coffee Pedaler in Tumut is a modern cafe experience known for its excellent coffee—perfect for a morning visit!
Ready to wash all of that food down, cider, wine, gin and beer all abound in the Snowy Valley area —creating a so-called beverage trail. Courabyra Wines and Snowy Vineyard offer unique and gorgeous wines - many available to taste at their cellar doors - while Pretty Parrot distillery will whet your appetite with its gin and Australian native liqueurs. And don't go past Tumut River Brewing Co, offering 24 beers/ciders on tap including a range of staples, limited release seasonal offerings as well as rotating “guest taps”.
*At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned are at varying stages of recovery and openness from both bushfires and COVID-19. Please check government websites and directly with each business before you travel.
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