Willis picnic area

Lower Snowy River area in Kosciuszko National Park

Overview

Willis picnic area is the last stop on Lower Snowy drive before it crosses the state border, and offers a scenic lunch spot with tables and fire rings.

Type
Picnic areas
Where
Lower Snowy River area in Kosciuszko National Park
Accessibility
Medium
Price
Free
Please note

  • You'll need to bring your own drinking and cooking water.
  • We encourage you to bring gas or fuel stoves, especially in summer during the fire season.
  • There is limited mobile reception in this park.

Willis picnic area, at the tail-end of Lower Snowy drive, offers one last place to settle down and rest on this side of the Black-Allen line (NSW/Victorian border). Snowy River roars past on the other side of Barry Way, and shady gum trees and cypress pines make this a pleasant option for morning or afternoon tea. Pack a thermos and find a perfect picnic spot – there are even fire rings if you want to stoke up a barbecue.

Kangaroos, wallabies and emus are likely to be seen during the day here, and you might even spot a platypus in the river, so don’t forget the camera. Wombats are more likely to be out at night.

The resident wattle trees bloom in late winter and spring, the best time to visit Willis picnic area. As the lowest altitude picnic area in Kosciuszko National Park, it can get quite warm in the height of summer – a perfect excuse to bring a pair of swimmers to cool down in the river.

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/picnic-areas/willis-picnic-area/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Willis picnic area.

Getting there and parking

Willis picnic area is in the southern (Lower Snowy) precinct of Kosciuszko National Park. To get there from Snowy Region Visitor Centre:

  • Drive 1.5km along Kosciuszko Road
  • Turn left onto Barry Way and drive 70.3km south
  • Turn right into the Willis picnic area carpark, immediately adjacent to Barry Way.

Road quality

  • Check the weather before you set out as the road to Willis picnic area can become boggy when it rains

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • 4WD required in wet weather

Facilities

Toilets

  • Non-flush toilets

Picnic tables

Barbecue facilities

  • Wood barbecues (bring your own firewood)
  • Fire rings (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

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).

Water activities

Beaches, rivers and lakes in NSW national parks offer lots of opportunities for water activities. Please take care in the water and find out how to help your family and friends stay safe around water.

Accessibility

Disability access level - medium

  • Assistance may be required to access this area.

Permitted

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

Prohibited

Gathering firewood

Firewood is not supplied and may not be collected from the park.

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

Cooma (103 km)

The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre is a state-of-the-art visitor facility showcasing the story of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme from the early construction days to the role the scheme plays today in the development of Australia.

www.visitnsw.com

Jindabyne (61 km)

For those heading to the Snowy Mountains snowfields, Jindabyne is a great place to hire or buy all of your skiing and snowboarding essentials from equipment to fashion.

www.visitnsw.com

Thredbo (2 km)

If you're thinking of taking to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko or want a fabulous photo opportunity, the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift is the best way to go. From Threbo village, the chairlift hoists you up the mountainside and close to the summit. From here, it's a short walk to fabulous views in all directions.

www.visitnsw.com

Learn more

Willis picnic area is in Lower Snowy River area. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A sanctuary for wildlife

Spotted-tailed quoll, or tiger quoll. Photo: Sharon Wormleaton/DPIE

The Lower Snowy River is a haven for plants and animals, including rare species. While kangaroos, swamp wallabies and wombats are common, keep an eye out for the endangered spotted-tailed quoll, shy platypus, short-beaked echidna, and impressive wedge-tailed eagles. White box and cypress pine are common in the dry woodlands, as are grass trees - ancient flowering plants that have existed since dinosaurs roamed Australia.

Drive the old drovers route

Lower Snowy drive, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Luke McLachlan/DPIE

In the 1800s, Lower Snowy drive (Barry Way) formed the stock route for sheep and cattle travelling from summer grazing, in the high alpine country, to Bairnsdale markets. The eagle-eyed can spot tree markers and the remains of old stockyards near Jacobs River campground. Before federation, a customs house stood at Willis picnic area, for the Victorian Government to collect taxes on cattle crossing the border.

  • Lower Snowy drive (Barry Way) Lower Snowy drive is a sprawling road trip that takes travellers past picnic spots, swimming holes, campgrounds and lookouts in the Snowy River valley.

World-class wilderness

Lower Snowy River valley, Kosciuszko National Park. Image: Murray Vanderveer/DPIE

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 Pilot Wilderness and Byadbo Wilderness in the Lower Snowy River area. Pilot Wilderness, which rises from just over 200m in the Lower Snowy River valley to 1830m at The Pilot mountain, makes up over 20 per cent of this protected area.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Photo: Peter Sherratt

    Yellow-tailed black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus funereus)

    The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is one of the largest species of parrot. With dusty-black plumage, they have a yellow tail and cheek patch. They’re easily spotted while bird watching, as they feed on seeds in native forests and pine plantations.

  • Wedge-tailed eagle. Photo: Kelly Nowak

    Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)

    With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These Australian animals are found in woodlands across NSW, and have the ability to soar to heights of over 2km. If you’re bird watching, look out for the distinctive diamond-shaped tail of the eagle.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Tawny frogmouth. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)

    Found throughout Australia, the tawny frogmouth is often mistaken for an owl due to its wide, powerful beak, large head and nocturnal hunting habits. The ‘oom oom oom’ call of this native bird can be heard echoing throughout a range of habitats including heath, woodlands and urban areas.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  •  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.

Plants

  • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

    An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

  • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

    Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

  • A red triangle slug on the trunk of a scribbly gum tree in Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

    Scribbly gum (Eucalyptus haemastoma)

    Easily identifiable Australian native plants, scribbly gum trees are found throughout NSW coastal plains and hills in the Sydney region. The most distinctive features of this eucalypt are the ‘scribbles’ made by moth larva as it tunnels between the layers of bark.

Environments in this area

Willis picnic area, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray Vanderveer/DPIE