See Australia’s snowfields by car
There’s no better way to embrace the season’s cooler weather than by taking a road trip or two through Australia’s snowfields and high country. Grab snacks, program some warming tunes and hit the road – just don’t forget a jacket so you can get out and admire the view!
Stirling Ranges, Western Australia
WA may not immediately spring to mind when you think about Australian alpine landscapes, but the little-visited Stirling Range National Park – located an hour’s drive north-east of Albany in the state’s south – offers high-country sights just as impressive as those on the East Coast. The 42-kilometre unsealed Stirling Range Drive wends its way through the heart of park, around misty peaks that rise more than 1,000 metres above sea level and are often dusted with snow in winter. The park is also home to more than 1,500 species of flora, many of which grow nowhere else. The weather here can change in an instant, so make sure your car is road-worthy before you set off.
Highland Lakes Road, Tasmania
Although it’s technically one of the Apple Isle’s main north-to-south highways, the snowy Highland Lakes Road receives much less traffic than other comparable routes between Hobart and Launceston, making it ideal for a leisurely scenic trip. The road – also known as the Lake Highway or the A5 – traverses some of Tasmania’s most distinctive tracts of high country, including windswept alpine forests and the otherworldly Thousand Lakes region. The 148-kilometre road includes both sealed and unsealed sections, and sometimes closes for a day or two in winter if snowfall has been particularly heavy.
Jacob’s Ladder, Tasmania
This zigzag road in Tasmania’s Ben Lomond Ranges may be steep and narrow, but it’s also incredibly beautiful, taking you to a 1,500-metre peak overlooking some of the state’s most bucolic countryside. Around 50 kilometres southeast of Launceston, the road is unsealed and, from June to September, prone to ice and snow, so it should be driven with care. Highlights include a pretty alpine village, reliably good skiing and dramatic vistas over the national park.
Great Alpine Road, Victoria
From Wangaratta in the north to Bairnsdale in the southeast, the Great Alpine Road traverses a spectacular section of the Victorian Alps. Australia’s highest bitumen road stretches 300 kilometres through historic villages, skirting wine regions such as the King Valley, but also offering opportunities for hiking and skiing in Mount Buffalo National Park, Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain. The route ends in Bairnsdale, gateway to the Gippsland Lakes, with ocean beaches and national parks all around.
Alpine Way, NSW
Seemingly endless mountain views, a rich Aboriginal history and stellar hiking trails are just some of the reasons to explore the Alpine Way, a 120-kilometre stretch of road through the Snowy Mountains from Jindabyne to the Murray River on the NSW-Victoria border. This part of Kosciuszko National Park is known for its tall mountain forests, backdropped by snow-capped peaks that endure from winter through spring. Overnight in Thredbo Alpine Village, or try riverside camping in Tom Groggin or Geehi Flats campgrounds.
Mount Buffalo National Park, Victoria
The road to the top of Mount Buffalo, 350 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, offers an unrivalled perspective of this National Heritage-listed landscape. With more than 90 kilometres of walking trails and 14 kilometres of marked ski trails, the area is ideal for hiking, rock climbing and cross-country skiing through a diverse landscape of sheer cliffs, majestic granite tors, snow gums, waterfalls and wildflowers. For the best views, drive to Bents Lookout, The Horn or Mount Buffalo Chalet, built in 1910 above a 1,400-metre cliff.
West Coast Wilderness Way, Tasmania
The Apple Isle has its fair share of incredible road trips, but it’s hard to beat the knockout views on this scenic route, linking three World Heritage areas around Cradle Mountain. From Lake St Clair in the centre of the island, it’s a 130-kilometre drive to the coast, crossing the wild Franklin and Gordon rivers amid impossibly beautiful alpine wilderness. Tackle hairpin hill turns around Queenstown before cruising into Strahan, which straddles Macquarie Harbour – the second-biggest natural harbour in Australia – and the ocean.