Set against the backdrop of undulating hills, pristine lakes and vast expanses of land, the drive between the Snowy Mountain gateway towns of Cooma and Jindabyne is a potent reminder of the natural beauty that’s hiding in plain sight in the High Country.
The quickest way to drive between Cooma and Jindabyne is via Kosciusko Road. This trip extends for a distance of 62.2 kilometres along a typical country highway that takes approximately 45 minutes. An alternative way to traverse this area is to head south out of Jindabyne via Barry Way, following Snowy River Way towards Dalgety and then looping back up to Berridale via the Dalgety Road before re-joining Kosciusko Road and heading back into Cooma. This alternative route covers a distance of 87.6 kilometres and takes approximately one hour and 10 minutes to complete.
Why you will love it
Snowy River Way is the quintessential alpine road that winds between some spectacular scenery. Soon after leaving Barry Way, the road starts winding between the foothills of the Snowy Mountains.
Jindabyne to Dalgety:
- During the stretch approaching the locality of Beloka are some amazing open paddocks of wildflowers, most notable being seas of wild native bluebells.
- Worthy of a stop to stretch the legs is the beautiful St James Anglican Church. Built in the Victorian Romanesque style and made from stone, the church is very eye-catching and at odds with the surrounding countryside. The church was constructed between 1871 and 1873 and honoured the promise made by Henry and John Watson to their mother Elizabeth, that they would build a church when they left England and settled in Australia. The church opened in 1873. Diagonally across the road is the St James Anglican Church cemetery.
- Another ten kilometres reveals a one-lane bridge, built in 1888, that spans the famous Snowy River and the town of Dalgety. Dalgety, originally known as Buckley’s Crossing, was selected as one of the possible sites for Australia’s capital city. Today, it is another interesting place to stop and read about the history of the Snowy and even take a swim in the iconic river. An easy stroll around the town reveals even more historic sights.
Dalgety to Berridale:
- Heading north out of Dalgety towards the town of Berridale requires turning left at the intersection flanked by Buckley’s Crossing Hotel. Following Rockwell Road to approach Berridale from the back of the town provides some spectacular views of the Snowy at the beginning. The drive extends for 15.6 kilometres before arriving at Berridale. Along the way, it is extremely tempting to follow the signs spotted along the way and make a detour to the Snowy winery and microbrewery.
- The town of Berridale has several galleries, a renowned cafe and bakery, and a museum dedicated to the history of the Snowy River region. The Memorial Park, in the main street, is also worth a visit to see the town’s war memorial for the First World War. From Berridale, it is possible to complete the loop by returning to Jindabyne.
Berridale to Cooma:
- Continuing on towards Cooma, along Kosciusko Way, reveals the turnoff to Mount Gladstone lookout. With an elevation of 1077 metres above sea level, this lookout presents some amazing views out over the surrounding countryside.
- Miss Heidi’s Teahouse is located just below the Gladstone lookout. This restaurant specialises in traditional and homemade Austrian fare using family recipes. A stop here is recommended for experiencing a taste of Europe in the Australian high country.
- Another 6.4 kilometres and the scenic route ends in Cooma.
- Jindabyne is approximately 180 kilometres from Canberra.
- The scenic drive between Jindabyne and Cooma via Dalgety takes approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes without any stops.
- A more leisurely approach, taking in some of the sights above, takes a minimum of two hours.
When to go
- During spring and summer, the wildflowers are in full bloom