Victoria’s High Country is on every adventurer’s bucket list and for good reason, it’s so good. However, if you cross the border into New South Wales and head to the Kosciuzsko region you might just be surprised with what you find.
The Snowy Hydro Scheme opened up the region in the late 1940s until 1974 and many company towns that were built specifically for the scheme have continued to develop well after the completion of the project. The Tumut region is situated at the northern end of the Snowy Mountains and I was blown away by its beauty. With so much to see and do in the area, I recommend spending at least a long weekend to really enjoy it.
Tumut is situated on the banks of the Tumut River and is an extremely picturesque town. The Festival of the Falling Leaf (Saturday 27th April 2019) celebrates the arrival of autumn with a street parade, gala day and fireworks. I checked out the Visitor Information Centre where I was handed a map with the highlights circled by the helpful staff. Pioneer Park is home to the Labyrinth for Peace and is the perfect place to find contemplation and peace.
An evening walk through the Wetlands offers the chance to sight a number of native birds as you stroll along the walking tracks, as well as being a great place to capture the sun setting amongst the ancient river red gums.
Tumut is also the largest of the towns in the area and so had a great variety of shops, a Woolworths supermarket, hospital and several cafés, restaurants and fast food outlets. Tumut is also home to the Tumut River Brewing Co. where you can join an interactive brewery tour before sampling several local beers, ciders and a cracking Ginja Ninja ginger beer.
Once a bustling gold mining town, the main street is now classified by the National Trust (NSW). The township sprung to life when Adelong was declared a gold field in 1855 and was one of the most productive in NSW in its time.
Now you can enjoy a stroll through town before exploring the Adelong Gold Mill ruins that remain in the gorge off the main street. The self-guided walk has several information panels explaining the happenings of the time – give yourself a good couple of hours to cover the loop trails. The creek is also a popular swimming spot when the weather warms up so don’t forget a towel.
Batlow is an easy twenty-minute drive from Tumut and is home to the Cider Fest (third Saturday in May) and the Apple Blossom Festival (third weekend in October). The apple growers supply approximately 10% of the national apple crop with the climate perfect for apples, stone fruit, berries and cherries. The bakery produces some great pies too.
A fifteen-minute drive from Batlow is the stunning Sugar Pines Walk in the Bago State Forest. Native to the west coast of the USA, the sugar pine is the tallest and largest of all the pines. This plantation was planted in 1928 and has been reserved because of the size and magnificence of the trees. It felt quite mystical standing amongst these tall timbers. I am sure I heard whispers when the breeze blew and knocking as cones fell to the ground, treetops bumping each other as they sway.
There are also a number of logging tracks in the Bago forest so if you prefer to take the back roads to get from A to B to C, this is the place for some fun.
If you love the excitement of water-skiing or wakeboarding, or maybe the more serene option of a canoe or kayak, Blowering Dam is the perfect place for you. Accessible from Tumut, Talbingo or Batlow, the dam is also a popular spot for free waterside camping. You can even drive up to the dam wall and walk across the top to the spillway.
Blowering Dam is also where Ken Warby set the world water speed record of 511kmh on 8th October 1978 driving “Spirit of Australia”. That record still stands today, although Ken’s son David plans to break the record on Blowering Dam, maybe even in 2019.
There’s more to explore
Long Plain: Located in the Kosciusko National Park, this is one of the most stunning alpine plains you can drive, and you’re guaranteed to see wild brumbies. It is also home to several old huts, the Blue Waterholes and Tantangara Reservoir.
Yarrangobilly Caves: Home to some of the most spectacular limestone caves, you can enjoy a self-guided walk through South Glory or join a discovery tour in one of the other caves. You can also enjoy a dip in the thermal pool.
Talbingo: Home to Tumut 3 Power Station, it’s a great place for a picnic lunch and to learn about the Snowy Mountains scheme in the Talbingo shopping centre.
Where to Stay
Riverglade Caravan Park is the best place to base yourself to explore the region. With a wide range of accommodation options, this caravan park will suit any budget or set up with ensuite, powered and unpowered sites. If you prefer the comfort of a cabin, there are several options to suit your preferences.
Camp right on the river or amongst the shady trees, all the sites are grassed. The modern ablution blocks are kept clean and there is a large communal BBQ where you can chat with fellow travellers or sit and watch the big game on the TV. The kid’s playground is set on a sparse recreation area, that includes a volleyball net.
Being situated on the banks of the Tumut River is a huge asset, with a great swimming hole to cool down, access for fishing and other water activities. It is the place to be on a hot summer’s day I can tell you!