SNOWY MOUNTAINS WINTERS FOR NON-SKIER IN NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIAEven if you don't ski or snowboard, you can still enjoy the magic of winter in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, 450km south of Sydney. From caving to soaking in thermal waters, enjoying epic road trips or trying snow-shoeing, you'll find plenty to do. And then there are the welcoming cafés, restaurants, breweries and lodges.   

What to do 

Enjoy the wintery landscapes of Thredbo ski resort on a snow-shoe tour with K7 Adventures, which offers a number of different routes. In Perisher Valley, home to the Perisher ski resort, Wilderness Sports conducts snow-shoe tours that last from an hour to a full day. 

At the Thredbo Leisure Centre, a five-minute walk from Thredbo Village Square, you can zip down a waterslide, take on Mission Inflatable (a blow-up obstacle course) challenges and bounce away in the trampoline centre.  

Discover astonishing limestone stalactites and stalagmites that are thousands of years old on a guided tour of the Yarrangobilly Caves, a two-hour drive from Jindabyne. Close to the caves is a natural thermal pool that's 27°C years round — perfect for a quick dip, even when surrounded by snow.  

You can also explore the Lower Snowy River area, which has a number of scenic camping spots. As long as you have the right gear (including chains for your car and a good sleeping bag), you can still camp in winter.  

Chairlifts aren't just for skiing — catch Australia's only alpine gondola, Merritts Gondola, at Thredbo and enjoy incredible mountain and valley views. Stop in at Merritts Mountain House for breakfast, or a wine. 

Try tobogganing and snow tubing on the designated slope beside Perisher Valley Car Park on Pipers Ridge. Here, Tube Town — accessed via the Skitube at Bullocks Flat below the snow line — has specially groomed lanes for a high-speed ride, plus a lift back to the top.  

Or take a deep breath and relax with a session at Jindabyne Yoga Shala, which offers classes in vinyasa, yin and hatha yoga in Jindabyne, the nearest major town to the ski resorts. 

Scenic touring 

The 180km Kosciuszko Alpine Way traverses the Monaro Plain from Cooma, through Jindabyne and past Thredbo, then down a steep and winding section to pretty Khancoban and on toward Corryong. 

Over 300km, the Snowy Valleys Way takes you through beautiful valleys and across plains. Starting in Gundagai, it winds south through Tumut and the apple town of Batlow, and on to Tumbarumba. It then crosses the Murray River and continues through Corryong, ending at Beechworth, Victoria. 

And the Snowy Mountains Highway takes you from Tumut along high country valleys and peaks, past the Yarrangobilly Caves and Selwyn Snowfields, and on to Adaminaby, which is known for its trout fishing. From here, the highway takes you back to Cooma — it's 130km one way. 

Where to eat  

Housed in a century-old wool store, The Lott in Cooma is a cosy café that usually has a fire going in winter; it serves flavourful dishes and excellent coffee for breakfast and lunch. Kettle & Seed in Cooma use beans roasted by local Snowy Mountains Coffee, its quality brews are best paired with daily baked cakes, quiche and bulging sandwiches. If you're able to self-cater, stock up on organic fruit and vegetables (some from the owners' garden), eggs and freshly baked sourdough at Moontree Health Foods in Cooma.  

Whisk & Cocoa Café & Cake Parlour in Berridale, a 25-minute drive from Jindabyne, specialises in more-ish baked goods — everything from muffins and brownies to vegan and gluten-free cakes.  

Tour the Eucumbene Trout Farm, a 30-minute drive from Jindabyne, to learn about trout ecology, and then catch your own fish to eat for lunch. You can also stay overnight in the farm's Lakeview Cottage, which has incredible water views. 

You have plenty of choices for dining in Jindabyne. You can head to part café, part grocer The Market, which serves wholesome dishes and great coffee. When you're done, pick up organic fruit and veggies and speciality grocery items to take away. 

Or fill up on burgers, fish tacos and vegan burritos at Birchwood Café, with coffee from Axis Roasters. Bacco Italian Restaurant has been serving pizzas and plates of pasta to Jindabyne's crowds for more than 25 years; kids are well catered for with a dedicated menu of tasty bites. After a long day enjoying the snow, the warmth of the much-loved Café Darya in Jindabyne is most welcome. Try Persian dishes including dips, pastries and stews.  

Further afield, Crackenback Farm, just 15 minutes from Thredbo, serves French farmhouse-style meals in a country setting, with the menu focused on paddock-to-plate dining. It's also a guesthouse with six stylish rooms.  

And Alpine Larder at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa serves pizza, burgers and salads using local produce. The rustic setting comes with a huge stone fireplace, and there's alfresco dining when the weather warms.  

Where to drink 

Independent operator Jindabyne Brewing pours a tasty range of beers, including a pilsner and wheat beer, paired with a seasonal menu of snacks and meals. You can also visit the home of Kosciuszko Brewery, located on-site at Jindabyne's Banjo Patterson Inn. The pale ale is the perfect refresher after a day of adventure activities. 

Pop into the Berridale cellar door of Shut the Gate, a 25-minute drive from Jindabyne, to enjoy a tasting of everything from chardonnay to shiraz, made using grapes grown in Tumbarumba.  

A regional pioneer in brewing and bottling, Snowy Vineyard & Microbrewery, a 40-minute drive from Jindabyne, makes everything on-site using pure Snowy River water. The cellar door is family- and dog-friendly, and light meals are available.  

Or linger over gin, vodka or schnapps made from locally sourced fruit at Thredbo's Wildbrumby, which has a distillery door, an organic raspberry farm and a restaurant overlooking a sculpture garden. 

Where to stay 

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service manages a number of lodges throughout Kosciuszko National Park, including Creel Lodge overlooking Lake Jindabyne; Yarrangobilly Caves House, set in a beautiful valley; and the historic Currango Homestead in the high plains of the park.  

The Eastern boutique apartment and cabin both offer design-driven interiors and incredible views of the mountains, close to Thredbo village.  

In the Crackenback Valley between Jindabyne and Thredbo, Tinkersfield offers six well-appointed, rustic-chic cabins that sleep from two to 11 guests. 

Ecocrackenback is an eco-certified resort with 18 self-contained cabins among snow gums on 16 hectares near Jindabyne. Each slick 'habitat' has in-floor heating and a fully equipped kitchen. 

And the two timber Moonbah Hut cottages near Jindabyne sleep four or five guests. Each is filled with character, thanks to stone fireplaces, granite walls and exposed beams.

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