Olsens lookout

Khancoban area in Kosciuszko National Park

Overview

Olsens lookout in Kosciuszko National Park offers uninterrupted views of the western fall of Main Range.

Type
Lookouts
Where
Khancoban area in Kosciuszko National Park
Accessibility
Medium
Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
What to
bring
Drinking water, clothes for all weather conditions
Please note

  • There is limited mobile reception in this park.
  • The weather in this area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit.

Head to Olsens lookout in Kosciuszko National Park for a unique, uninterrupted view of the western fall of Main Range. Here, the majestic tall mountain ash forest retreats to give way to jagged rock above the alpine tree line. The lookout is nestled in a tranquil bush setting, complete with picnic tables so you can sit and enjoy a bite surrounded by these spectacular views.

While you’re there, see if you can pick the call of one of the best mimics of all birds, the superb lyrebird. These birds are active during the day, and their tell-tale scratchings often cover the path with bush litter.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/olsens-lookout/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Olsens lookout.

Getting there and parking

Olsens lookout is in the southern precinct of Kosciuszko National Park. To get there:

  • Turn off Alpine Way at the Olsens lookout/Geehi Dam tourist sign
  • Follow Olsen’s Road for 9.4 km
  • Turn right at Olsens lookout sign
  • Olsens lookout is at the end of this road (approximately 600m).

Road quality

All 2WD vehicles need to carry snow chains in winter, between June and October long weekends, on:

  • Kosciuszko Road (to Perisher)
  • Guthega Road
  • Alpine Way between Thredbo and Tom Groggin

Snow chains are recommended for all vehicles driving in the park, including 4WD and AWD, in the event of extreme weather. Read our snow driving in Kosciuszko tips.

Roads and tracks can close in extreme weather, so it’s a good idea to check weather and road conditions before setting out.

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather

Parking

Parking is available at Olsens lookout.

Facilities

Toilets

  • Non-flush toilets

Picnic tables

Barbecue facilities

  • Wood barbecues (bring your own firewood)

Carpark

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Alpine safety

Alpine areas present special safety issues. Conditions can be extreme and may change rapidly, particularly in winter. It’s important to be prepared and find out how to stay safe in alpine areas.

Fire safety

During periods of fire weather, the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service may declare a total fire ban for particular NSW fire areas, or statewide. Learn more about total fire bans and fire safety.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

Accessibility

Disability access level - medium

  • Assistance may be required to access this area

Prohibited

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Visitor centre

Nearby towns

Bellingen (54 km)

Bellingen is a laid-back, tree-lined town with a New Age vibe. It's set in a luxuriant valley beside the Bellinger River.

www.visitnsw.com

Coffs Harbour (65 km)

Coffs Harbour is a coastal city on the North Coast, packed with things to do. It's surrounded by lush forests and national parks.

www.visitnsw.com

Kosciuszko (8 km)

At 2,228 metres above sea level this is Australia's highest mountain. You'll find amazing vistas to the horizon.

www.visitnsw.com

Learn more

Olsens lookout is in Khancoban area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Unique landscapes

Olsens lookout, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray Vanderveer

The Western Fall of Kosciuszko National Park’s Main Range is the highest and steepest part of the Snowy Mountains. Mount Townsend and Abbot Peak block the view to Mount Kosciuszko, but their towering, rocky peaks are a breathtaking backdrop to the Geehi Plains, 1600m below. The mountain range captures the westerly air stream allowing tall mountain ash forest to grow in the moist soil below the treeline. 

The man-made landscapes of the Snowy Hydro Scheme, one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world, are also on show. Murray 1 and 2 Power Stations are close to Khancoban, while the scenic drive to Kiandra travels across the very top of the Tumut Pond Reservoir wall.

  • Scammells lookout Scammells lookout, 1000m above sea level, offers marvellous views of the rugged Western Fall of the Main Range, and makes a scenic picnic spot just off Alpine Way.

Historic alpine huts

A man walks towards Bradleys and O'Briens Hut, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray Vanderveer/OEH

The Khancoban area is home to many of Kosciuszko National Park’s picturesque historic huts. Built as shelter or fishing retreats for graziers and prospectors, or like Major Clews Hut, by Snowy Hydro Scheme workers, the huts provide a window into the past. The 8km return Geehi Huts walk is a great way to see Geehi, Keeble’s and Old Geehi Huts, all constructed from river rocks. Be prepared for several river crossings. Bradleys and O’Brien’s Hut is hard to miss along the Khancoban to Kiandra drive. You can also stretch your legs on a short walk to the rustic Patons Hut or Round Mountain Hut, made out of corrugated iron and surrounded by wilderness.

  • Geehi huts walking track Explore Geehi huts walking track by foot, bike, horse or 4WD. This short track, near Khancoban, boasts historic huts, river crossings and magnificent views of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park.
  • Round Mountain Hut walking track Round Mountain Hut walking track winds through the Jagungal Wilderness Area in central Kosciuszko National Park. A great Snowy Mountains walk or ride, it offers view and spring wildflowers on its way to the rustic hut.

Discover western and central Kosciuszko

Khancoban Visitor Centre, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold

Khancoban Visitor Centre is a convenient stop to buy passes, get maps, information and inspiration before you enter the park. Alpine Way is the main, year-round route through this area. It offers lookouts, campgrounds, picnic areas, walking tracks and bike trails along its 108km length between Khancoban and Jindabyne. The area's upgraded section of the Bicentennial trail is popular with horse riders, who can also take advantage of horse camps near Geehi and Tom Groggin.

  • Khancoban to Kiandra drive Picturesque Khancoban to Kiandra drive links Alpine Way with Snowy Mountains Highway, in Kosciuszko National Park, and takes in scenic dams, historic huts, mountain forest, and the highest town in Australia.
  • Khancoban Visitor Centre Khancoban Visitor Centre, on Alpine Way at western entry point to Kosciuszko National Park, is a great place to pick up maps, information and buy a parks pass for your Snowy Mountains adventure.
  • Kosciuszko – Alpine Way drive A driving or motorbike tour along Alpine Way scenic drive is a great way to discover the spectacular mountain views, serene campgrounds, magnificent walks, rides, and heritage of southern Kosciuszko National Park.

Remote wilderness and rare species

Round Mountain Hut walking track, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray Vanderveer

In recognition of Kosciuszko's unique value as a conservation area, it’s been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. More than half of the park, over 350,000ha (almost 865,000 acres), has been declared wilderness, including the Jagungal, Western Fall and Indi wilderness areas, located in the Khancoban area. The park's alpine and sub-alpine areas are home to rare plant species found nowhere else in the world, such as the Southern corroboree frog.

  • Round Mountain Hut walking track Round Mountain Hut walking track winds through the Jagungal Wilderness Area in central Kosciuszko National Park. A great Snowy Mountains walk or ride, it offers view and spring wildflowers on its way to the rustic hut.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Common wombat. Photo: Ingo Oeland

    Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus)

    A large, squat marsupial, the Australian common wombat is a burrowing mammal found in coastal forests and mountain ranges across NSW and Victoria. The only other remaining species of wombat in NSW, the endangered southern hairy-nosed wombat, was considered extinct until relatively recently.

  • Brush tail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

    One of the most widespread of Australian tree-dwelling marsupials, the common brushtail possum is found across most of NSW in woodlands, rainforests and urban areas. With strong claws, a prehensile tail and opposable digits, these native Australian animals are well-adapted for life amongst the trees.

  • Eastern common ringtail possum. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus)

    Commonly found in forests, woodlands and leafy gardens across eastern NSW, the Australian ringtail possum is a tree-dwelling marsupial. With a powerful tail perfectly adapted to grasp objects, it forages in trees for eucalypt leaves, flowers and fruit.

  • Emu, Paroo Darling National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

    The largest of Australian birds, the emu stands up to 2m high and is the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich. Emus live in pairs or family groups. The male emu incubates and rears the young, which will stay with the adult emus for up to 2 years.

  • Platypus climbing on to a submerged tree branch. Photo: Sharon Wormleaton/OEH

    Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

    One of the most fascinating and unusual Australian animals, the duck-billed platypus, along with the echidna, are the only known monotremes, or egg-laying mammals, in existence. The platypus is generally found in permanent river systems and lakes in southern and eastern NSW and east and west of the Great Dividing Range.

  • Short-beaked echidna in Ben Boyd National Park. Photo: Sharon Wormleaton/OEH

    Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

    One of only 2 egg-laying mammals in the world, the short-beaked echidna is one of the most widespread of Australian native animals. Covered in spines, or quills, they’re equipped with a keen sense of smell and a tube-like snout which they use to break apart termite mounds in search of ants.

  •  Superb lyrebird, Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)

    With a complex mimicking call and an elaborate courtship dance to match, the superb lyrebird is one of the most spectacular Australian animals. A bird watching must-see, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforests and wet woodlands across eastern NSW and Victoria.

  • Swamp wallaby in Murramarang National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Swamp wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

    The swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby or black pademelon, lives in the dense understorey of rainforests, woodlands and dry sclerophyll forest along eastern Australia. This unique Australian macropod has a dark black-grey coat with a distinctive light-coloured cheek stripe.

Plants

  • Billy Button flowers at Peery Lake picnic area. Photo: Dinitee Haskard OEH

    Billy buttons (Craspedia spp. )

    Billy buttons are attractive Australian native plants that are widespread throughout eastern NSW in dry forest, grassland and alpine regions such as Kosciuszko National Park. The golden-yellow globe-shaped flowers are also known as woollyheads. Related to the daisy, billy buttons are an erect herb growing to a height of 50cm.

Environments in this area

Olsens lookout, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray Vanderveer