Mountain communities – NSW

This tour takes you by less-travelled roads through Kosciuszko National Park from Khancoban on the western boundary, to Kiandra in the northern section of the park, via the highest town in Australia, Cabramurra. It features beautiful mountain and subalpine scenery, pleasant camping and picnicking sites, and plenty of opportunities for walking from the road. You will visit historic mountain sites, including Kiandra, Ravine (or Lobbs Hole) mining settlement, Yarrangobilly Caves (first visited by tourists last century), the site of the guesthouse at Rules Point, grazing huts on Long Plain, and the homesteads of Coolamine, Currango and the ruined Jounama. In late spring and summer you are assured of a special treat with colourful wildflowers. Please note that no facilities are available at Kiandra.

Distance: 88km, Khancoban to Kiandra; 37km, Kiandra to Adaminaby
Travel time: 2 hours
Driving conditions: Accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles on a sealed road. Snow closes the road between Khancoban and Cabramurra from early June until early October. If you want to reach Cabramurra, or the Selwyn and Three Mile Dam snowfields during the snow season, travel via the Snowy Mountains Highway from either Adaminaby or Tumut or via the Elliott Way from Tumbarumba. Please note, vehicles travelling in the mountains in winter should carry properly fitting snow chains. For information telephone the Kosciuszko National Park offices
Season: Closed in winter between Khancoban and Cabramurra. Year-round Cabramurra to Adaminaby. Visitors should contact Khancoban Information Centre for current status.
Food: Khancoban, Cabramurra, Adaminaby, Mt Selwyn (winter only)
Accommodation: Khancoban, Adaminaby, Providence Portal. Contact visitor centres for more information.
Fuel: Khancoban, Cabramurra, Adaminaby
National Park Camping Areas: Three Mile Dam
Starting point: Khancoban

Distances are measured from Khancoban for the first part of the trip.
From Khancoban, travel northwest towards Corryong and Towong for about 5km and then turn right (east) at the Cabramurra turnoff, and follow the Cabramurra Road. It is recommended that caravans and trailers proceed with caution on this road, particularly the section over the Tumut Pond Reservoir dam wall.

When you pass the Kosciuszko National Park entrance 10km from Khancoban, no need to reach for your wallet, as no visitor-use fee is charged at this although you will be expected to pay when you are visiting the ski area in winter. (You may also purchase an entry permit at Khancoban Kosciuszko Park visitor centre.) Around 1 km further north along the road and through Bradneys Gap, on your left is the pleasant Bradneys Gap picnic area, with fireplaces and picnic tables provided. The Yellow Bog Road and Bicentennial National Trail, a four-wheel drive dry-weather road that leaves the park and crosses into private property, continues north from the left around 21 km out of Khancoban, while the sealed road to Cabramurra veers northeast. In a few kilometres you’ll cross Yellow Bog Creek, and pass Dargal Mountain (1727m) on your right (southeast).

Set amongst tall forests 28km northeast of Khancoban you’ll find the Clover Flat rest area on the banks of another small tributary of the Tooma River, where picnic tables and fireplaces are provided. This forest provides an excellent habitat for Superb lyrebirds, which may be seen along the earthen banks by the roadside foraging for insects among the moist leaf litter. If you can’t see any, listen for their calls (more frequent in winter), which mimic other birds and, it’s said, even vehicles and chainsaws!

The road then climbs slowly out of the tall wet mountain forests, and into subalpine woodlands broken by small depressions and valleys of snowgrass and heath land, towards the Tooma Reservoir around 34km from Khancoban, where it crosses the dam wall. Approximately 8km from the dam, the road passes another small picnic area with tables and fireplaces, at Ogilvies Creek rest area.

At the Round Mountain/Mt Jagungal trail head 47km from Khancoban, you will come to the start of a very popular walk into the Jagungal Wilderness. A small carpark and an information display are provided for walkers. If you are an experienced and well-prepared bushwalker, and have several days to spare, the Mt Jagungal circuit (35km return to the trail head) is a worthwhile
challenge. The network of fire trails and walking tracks will take you to such popular destinations and routes as the imposing alpine summit of Mt Jagungal (2061 m), the Toolong Range, and Farm Ridge. It is also possible to walk through the Jagungal Wilderness, eventually reaching the high peaks of the Main Range and finishing at Dead Horse Gap (see the Main range tour), not far from Thredbo.

As with all wilderness areas, visitors are attracted both by the sense of remoteness in a landscape that remains substantially unchanged by humans, and by the need for self-reliance and skilled navigation. The challenge for wilderness managers is to protect and maintain those attractions while allowing access to visitors.

Take your time at Bradleys hut (49.5km from Khancoban, on the right) to be reminded of the era of mountain grazing leases, when sheep and cattle were brought to the mountain grasslands for the summer, and stockworkers built huts such as this one for shelter. Many of these huts still remain in the park today and, as significant heritage sites, are cared for by the park and by volunteer groups such as the Kosciusko Huts Association. At Bradleys hut, a toilet, a picnic table and a barbecue are provided.

Close by, 50km from Khancoban, lies the Manjar fire trail turnoff, on the left which provides four-wheel drive, dry-weather only access northwest to Mt Black Jack and along the Maragle Range. It was south of Mt Black Jack that the aircraft Southern Cloud crashed on a stormy day in 1931, in Australia’s first major air disaster. Eight people died in the crash. Amazingly the wreck lay undisturbed until 1958, when a Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric (SMA) carpenter, walking for pleasure on his day off, came across the metal airframe in dense forest above Deep Creek.

The road drops extremely steeply to cross the impressive dam wall of Tumut Pond Reservoir, 58km north from Khancoban (cars towing caravans or trailers are advised to proceed with caution on this part of the road). The surrounding slopes are covered in the stark white trunks of dead Alpine ash, which were burned in a severe bushfire in 1985.

When you reach the turnoff to Cabramurra, around 66km from Khancoban, you should feel on top of the world – well, at least on top of the continent – since Cabramurra is the highest town in Australia, at an altitude of 1488 m.

In the warmer months it is possible to take the Kings Cross Road, which turns off the Khancoban to Cabramurra Road 300m before the Cabramurra turnoff, up to the beautiful and popular Mt Selwyn ski resort (6 to 7km). Mt Selwyn is a small winter downhill ski resort ideally suited to families and beginners. There are several ski lifts and the resort also provides cross-country ski trails, a kiosk, parking and toilet facilities. The Kings Cross Road is closed in winter near the Dry Dam cross country ski area, but it’s a pleasant drive on an improved gravel road in summer and the resort carpark is located on the left-hand side of the road just before the resort.

On the sealed Cabramurra to Kiandra Road, the turnoff to the Elliott Way – around 70km from Khancoban and 4km from Cabramurra – which winds north of Cabramurra is an alternative, sealed route to Corryong and Tumbarumba. Dropping down sharply past the Tumut 2 power station, the road winds along the floor of the steep-sided Tumut River valley.

As the Elliott Way continues, watch for views over the upper reaches of the Talbingo Reservoir to the north and east as the road cIimbs out of the valley. Shortly after, the road leaves the park and turns southwest for Tumbarumba, Tooma and Corryong. Stop off at one of the several picnic and camping areas along the Elliott Way as you head towards Corryong. From the high ridges around Tooma there are superb views eastwards across open farm land toward the Main Range.

The turnoff to Ravine, the Lobbs Hole trail (see Side Trip 5d), will be passed shortly before the road crosses the Great Dividing Range at 1500m altitude and passes between the watersheds of the Tumut and Eucumbene rivers. The road reaches the very pleasant Three Mile Dam camping and picnic area, on the left, 80km from Khancoban and around 6km from Kiandra. This is a well-equipped site, with several camp sites, picnic tables, toilets and interpretive material to help visitors make the most of their stay. To help keep this place beautiful, and as there is little firewood available, please use fuel stoves for cooking if possible.

The Goldseekers track, a 3km-loop walking track, starts and ends opposite the entrance to Three Mile Dam and crosses through snowgrass flats and Snow gum woodland, as well as passing the remains of an ore-crushing stamper battery.

From Three Mile Dam, visitors may also walk or ski the clearly marked trail to Mt Selwyn. The sealed road turnoff to Mt Selwyn is on the right just after Three Mile Dam, and is the winter access route to the resort.

Continue on to New Chum Hill, 84km from Khancoban and on the left just before the road meets the Snowy Mountains Highway, where you’ll find a picnic area with tables and barbecues in a sheltered spot beneath the hill.

At the junction, turn right onto the Snowy Mountains Highway and drive about 700m to Kiandra. Distances are measured from Kiandra from this point on.

Sheltered a little below the windswept ridges 3km southeast of Kiandra lies a scenic picnic spot beside the Eucumbene River. In this low and sometimes waterlogged spot the tracks become very boggy after rain. Ducks and other waterbirds can often be seen on the river here.

The Snowy Mountains Highway climbs out of the Eucumbene valley into the Snow gum woodland and Alpine ash forest of Sawyers Hill, to an altitude of 1480m. The Rest House, Sawyers Hill, 8km south of Kiandra, on the right, was updated in 1960. The original hut was built as shelter for coach travellers who used the old Kiandra Road at the turn of the century. The hut is still
used as a day shelter by travellers and has a toilet, and the Four Mile Hill walktrack to the Eucumbene River starts nearby.

The road continues to travel through a mixture of Snow gum woodland and small snowgrass plains, which are also frost hollows. Just past Delaneys Creek on the left of the road around 11 km from Kiandra, is Delaneys hut, believed have been built by James Delaney before 1914. This hut provides a pleasant forested picnic spot, with picnic tables and fireplaces, but it can be easy to miss as trees and rising ground obscure it from the road, so stay alert if you want to stop there.

The area around Delaneys hut is a good example of the ‘inverted tree line’ effect by cold-air drainage into frost hollows. Because cold air lies below warmer air here (unlike the situation on the mountains all around), the regime of vegetation changes and Snow gums (colder air) grow below Alpine ash (warmer air) instead of the other way around.

As you approach the turnoff for Providence Portal 20.5km from Kiandra, look for the views through the trees over Lake Eucumbene. At Providence Portal the water from Tantangara Dam, on the Murrumbidgee River, pours into Lake Eucumbene through a 14km tunnel. This is a very popular spot for trout fishing.

A few kilometres after leaving Providence Portal you will cross the Kosciuszko National Park boundary 22km from Kiandra. Travelling southeast towards Adaminaby you may enjoy views to the north across sheep-grazing land to the Scabby Range and Namadgi National Park, in the Australian Capital Territory. Mt Gudgenby with its twin-peaked summit (in Namadgi National Park), is particularly prominent, and will come into view again if you continue to Canberra through Namadgi National Park (see the Dreamtime to Space Age – Adaminaby to Tharwa tour).

Adaminaby, 37km southeast from Kiandra, claims to be the trout capital of the world, and has erected a giant trout at the entrance to the town to back up its claim. To find the centre of this small town you must turn off the highway at the trout, and the commercial hub will be right in front of you. Adaminaby has a pub, other accommodation, cafes and restaurants, and bait and tackle shops. People travel a long way to fish the waters of this region, including Lake Eucumbene, and many memorable fish have been caught. Most of the local lakes and rivers hold populations of Brown and Rainbow trout, and even small streams can yield a tasty breakfast.

As strict fishing regulations apply, ensure that you are aware of the rules before you begin to fish these waters. For information about current fishing regulations, telephone the New South Wales Fisheries Information Service on 1300 550 474 or the Cooma office on (02) 6452 3411. Also see our waterways page.