High Plains area

Kosciuszko National Park

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Overview

The High Plains area spoils you with summer walks, horse rides and bike trails to mountain huts, caves and gorges. Camp, stay in Currango’s heritage cottages, and discover Kosciuszko’s wild north-east corner.

Read more about High Plains area

Venture off the Snowy Mountains Highway, between Tumut and Cooma, to discover this remote but rewarding corner of Kosciuszko National Park.

In summer, camp at popular Blue Waterholes campground. Try one of the horse-friendly campgrounds, like Ghost Gully campground on Long Plain, or see our lesser-known campgrounds. Explore the treeless plains, snow grass valleys and mountain woodland. Or visit the limestone gorges, caves and waterfall along Clarke Gorge walk or Nichols Gorge walk

Mosquito Run is a favourite with mountain bikers and horse riders, taking in historic Hainsworth Hut and Old Currango Homestead. Enjoy the views from Batlow Rocks at Tantangara Dam, or from Tantangara Mountain near Rocky Plains. You can even try part of the epic Australian Alps walking track or Bicentennial trail which pass through this area, visiting Oldfields Hut on Murray Gap trail.

For a real taste of this area’s rich colonial heritage, rustic Currango Homestead and its charming cottages offer group or exclusive accommodation.

Nearby, Tantangara Dam is a popular summer spot for fishing and boating. Yarrangobilly Caves is less than an hour away.

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/visit-a-park/parks/high-plains-area/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the High Plains area.

Getting there and parking

To get to the High Plains area of Kosciuszko National Park:

Access from Tumut:

  • Take Snowy Mountains Highway south
  • Long Plain Road is around 75km from Tumut
  • Tantangara Road is around 110km from Tumut

Access from Cooma:

  • Take Snowy Mountains Highway via Adaminaby
  • Tantangara Road is around 85km from Cooma
  • Long Plain Road is around 124km from Cooma

The nearest fuel and supplies are located in Adaminaby, Cooma, Talbingo, or Tumut. Limited services in Cabramurra.

Parking

Road quality

Road closures

  • Long Plain Road and Tantangara Road (beyond the dam wall) are closed in winter. There's no winter access to Currango or Blue Waterholes areas.
  • Check weather and road conditions before you set out as unsealed roads can become boggy.
  • Tantangara Causeway, on Port Phillip trail, can close due to flooding. Contact the Tumut Visitor Centre before you set out.

Snow chains

The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) recommends snow chains are carried by all vehicles driving in the park in winter, including 4WD and AWD, in the event of extreme weather. Visit the Live Traffic website for current conditions.

Best times to visit

The vast and varied High Plains area is packed with activities and attractions, during the warmer months. Here are some of the highlights.

Autumn

Enjoy the crisp mountain air and purple-tinged heath on a heart-pumping bike adventure, horse ride or walk. Try easy Pocket ride to Pockets Hut, moderate Plain ride, or the challenging Gavels Circuit. Rise early to climb Batlow Rocks and watch the mist rise off the valley. Throw a fishing line in Tantagara Dam or the waters of the Murrumbidgee River, then warm up by the campfire under a sky full of stars.

Spring

In spring and summer, many of the slopes surrounding the high plains are covered in bright wildflowers. Set up camp and unload your mountain bike, saddle up the horses, or lace up your hiking boots. Discover Coolamine Homestead along Blue Waterholes trail, or Hains Hut on the 39km return Nungar Bullock ride. Follow Murrumbidgee ride to Townsend Hut, Pedens Hut and the wonderfully-named Love Nest in the Sallees. Experienced hikers who are well-prepared will find landscapes mostly unchanged by modern human activity in the vast Bimberi and Goobarragandra wilderness areas.

Summer

Escape the heat and head for the high plains. Why not enjoy a digital detox at Currango’s cottages, where you can relax on the verandah as the resident roos lounge on the lawns and the sun turns the plains gold. Base yourself at one of the many designated campgrounds in this area and relish the network of walks, rides, and scenic drives. Bring your boat and fishing gear to see what’s biting at Tantangara Dam. Lower water levels make this a great time to paddle or swim in a mountain stream, or tackle the river crossings on the walks to Clarke or Nichols Gorge.

Facilities

Maps and downloads

Fees and passes

No park entry fees apply in the High Plains area. See vehicle entry fees for other areas in Kosciuszko National Park.

Annual passes and entry fees (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

Safety messages

All Kosciuszko National Park visitors planning a long hike, off-track or overnight adventure, or visiting a remote part of the park, are recommended to fill in the trip intention form and carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Find out more about hiring a PLB and completing a trip intention form on the dedicated iPads available at Snowy Region Visitor Centre, Tumut Visitor Centre and the Perisher NSW National Parks office.

Adventure sports

Adventure sports like caving offer a thrilling opportunity to explore our unique environments. Before you head out, be aware of the risks and stay safe during adventure sports.

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.

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).

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

Wildlife safety

Always remember that wildlife is just that - wild. Please do not approach or feed animals, as they may become aggressive or dangerous if threatened.

Permitted

  • Mountain biking and horse riding are permitted on all public roads and most management trails in the High Plains area, except wilderness areas. Please stay on established trails. Bike riders should give way to walkers and horse riders.
  • Caving: 4 wild caves are open to visitors in the Blue Waterholes area. These include: Murray Cave, Barbers Cave, Cooleman Cave, and Right Cooleman Cave. All other caves within the area require permits to visit.

Camping

Vehicle based camping is permitted only at designated campgrounds. Huts can be used for emergency shelter only. Campgrounds with facilities to camp with horses include: Cooinbil Hut, Long Plain Hut, Ghost Gully, Old Snowy, Wares Yards, Rocky Plain, and Bullocks Hill campgrounds.

Fishing

You can fish in rivers and streams between the October and June long weekends. A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required to fish in all waters. Fishing in dams and lakes is permitted year-round, but some waterways may close temporarily or have restrictions. Refer to the NSW Recreational Freshwater Fishing Guide for information.

Prohibited

  • Vehicles, mountain bikes and horse riding aren't permitted in Clarke Gorge or Nichols Gorge at Blue Waterholes, or in wilderness areas.
  • Firearms, chainsaws and fossicking aren't permitted in Kosciuszko National 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. The alpine resorts of Selwyn, Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass, Ski Rider and Kosciuszko Tourist Park are exempt, though some commercial and outdoor places within these resorts may have no smoking areas.

Nearby towns

Adaminaby (19 km)

Visit the fascinating Snowy Scheme Museum at Adaminaby to learn about the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme.  Find out about the achievements of the engineers, the workers, the machinery and the role the project played in the development of the modern Australian nation. The museum is open on weekends.

www.visitnsw.com

Talbingo (37 km)

Talbingo is surrounded by some of the most inspiring scenery in the Snowy Mountains. At Talbingo Dam you'll enjoy panoramic views of the region as well as superb fishing for brown and rainbow trout. You can even go water-skiing on the dam.

www.visitnsw.com

Tumut (75 km)

Tumut is a country town on the northern foothills of the Snowy Mountains. The Rolling valleys, mountain streams and alpine mountain ranges make it popular for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

www.visitnsw.com

Cooma (85 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

Learn more

High Plains area is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Unique landscapes

Cave and creek at Blue Waterholes, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

As you explore the High Plains area you’ll see plains of snow grass, herbs and heath. Snow gums and black sallee eucalypts dominate the woodland, while mountain gum, candle bark and alpine ash also appear at higher elevations. The karst environment of the Cooleman Plain is best seen in the steep cliffs, narrow gorges, limestone caves and remarkable blue-tinged spring around Blue Waterholes.

  • Clarke Gorge walking track The 5km Clarke Gorge walking track follows Cave Creek downstream through limestone gorges and cave formations. Stop along the way to do some fishing and birdwatching.
  • Nichols Gorge walking track The 7km Nichols Gorge walking track, suitable for experienced hikers, follows Cave Creek and passes some karst features before rejoining Blue Waterholes trail.

High country huts and heritage

Coolamine Homestead, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

From the mid-1800s into the 1950s, the high plains of Kosciuszko National Park attracted summer graziers who constructed timber and tin huts as shelter throughout the area. More than 20 of these photogenic high country huts are dotted along the many tracks and trails of the plains. Larger properties, like Currango or Coolamine Homesteads, became permanent residences and now provide a fascinating window into pioneer life.

A wonderland for wildlife

Eastern water dragon. Photo: R Nicolai/OEH

The complex karst environment of Cooleman Plain supports a rich community of animals and plants. Platypus, wombats, brushtail and ringtail possums, eastern grey kangaroos and red-necked wallabies are commonly seen along tracks and at campgrounds. The caves provide an important roosting site for the vulnerable eastern bentwing bat, and winter refuge for one of Australia’s highest populations of eastern water dragons. Keep an eye out for the leafy anchor plant along the banks of Cave Creek - it’s one of Australia’s only deciduous native plants.

  • Clarke Gorge walking track The 5km Clarke Gorge walking track follows Cave Creek downstream through limestone gorges and cave formations. Stop along the way to do some fishing and birdwatching.

Experiences and facilities

Horses tethered to posts in northern Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH

The vast grassland plains, with their hidden huts, are a superb backdrop for walking tracks, mountain bike trails and scenic drives. Blue Waterholes campground is a favourite summer destination to explore stunning walks, creeks, and gorges. There are plenty of campgrounds to choose from across the plains, and with horse riding popular here, many offer facilities for camping with horses. These include: Cooinbil Hut, Long Plain Hut, Ghost Gully, Old Snowy, Wares Yards, Rocky Plain, and Bullocks Hill campgrounds. You can also bring your horse if you’re staying at Currango Homestead, Daffodil Cottage or The Pines Cottage (fees and limits apply, bookings required).

World-class wilderness

Aerial view of Clarke Gorge, near Blue Waterholes, in the High Plains area of Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Robert Mulally/DPIE

In recognition of Kosciuszko's unique value as a conservation area, it's been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. More than half the area of the park, over 350,000ha, has been declared wilderness and includes the Goobarragandra, Bramina and Bimberi wilderness areas, which cover 61,500ha.

  • Snowy Mountains multi-day horse ride treks Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Snowy Mountains on a multi-day horse riding trek guided and supported by Reynella Rides. You'll enjoy hearty mountain food and roomy tents as you explore the High Plains area in Kosciuszko National Park.

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • Eastern bentwing bat. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Eastern bentwing-bat (Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis)

    In colonies numbering up to 150,000, eastern bentwing-bats congregate in caves across the east and north-west coasts of Australia. These small Australian animals weigh around 13-17g and can reach speeds of up to 50km per hour. Eastern bentwing-bats use both sight and echolocation to catch small insects mid-air.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  •  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.

  • Eastern water dragon. Photo: Rosie Nicolai

    Eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii lesueurii)

    The eastern water dragon is a subaquatic lizard found in healthy waterways along eastern NSW, from Nowra to halfway up the Cape York Pensinsula. It’s believed to be one of the oldest of Australian reptiles, remaining virtually unchanged for over 20 million years.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A juvenile platypus saved by National Parks and Wildlife staff. Photo: M Bannerman/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.

  • Echidna. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    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.

  • 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.

Environments in this area

What we're doing

High Plains area has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

Understanding landscapes and geology

Geo conservation efforts and research play an important role in protecting the delicate ecosystems of Kosciuszko National Park, such as the Cooleman Karst Plain. Rehabilitation and maintenance works to limit the impact of erosion and degradation, and monitoring the effects of climate change and visitation, are ongoing.

Conservation program

Cave Access Policy

The NPWS cave access policy was created following concern from staff, recreational cavers and scientists regarding access to NPWS caves. The policy sets important guidelines for protecting and conserving NSW caves, and focuses on regulating access while maintaining opportunities for public enjoyment and scientific research.

Preserving biodiversity

Kosciuszko National Park plays and important role in conserving NSW’s biodiversity by protecting its vulnerable, threatened and endangered species. Conservation activities are carried out in this park, and include monitoring the habitat, distribution and population of the northern corroboree frog, broad-toothed rat, and Max Muellers burr-daisy.

Conservation program

BioNet

Uniting technology with the vast collection of information on biodiversity in NSW, BioNet is a valuable database open to any user. From individual plant sightings to detailed scientific surveys, it offers a wealth of knowledge about ecology and threatened species in NSW. 

Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

Pests and weeds have a significant impact on the ecosystems and habitats within Kosciuszko National Park. Reduction of species such as ox-eye daisy are an important part of the work NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) does to protect the integrity of the High Plains area.

Conservation program

Wild dog control program

Wild dogs can have significant impacts on other animals and are regarded as pests. Our wild dog control program operates in many NSW national parks and reserves. When carrying out wild dog pest control, we aim to minimise the impact that they have on livestock and domestic pets, while maintaining dingo conservation in key areas.

Preserving historic heritage

The historic heritage of Kosciuszko National Park is preserved through a variety of NPWS programs that embrace its past. Heritage revitalisation and adaptive reuse projects are ongoing in this park. NPWS also works with volunteer groups including the Kosciuszko Huts Association, Friends of Currango and 4WD clubs to preserve and maintain historic huts in the High Plains area.

Conservation program

Historic and cultural heritage volunteering program

Are you a history buff longing for an outlet? Have you ever considered volunteering as a guide to share local heritage with visitors to your area? NSW National Parks invites you to join us in helping to keep our state’s precious cultural and historic sites open to the public. Becoming a historic and cultural heritage volunteer will give you an opportunity to offer guided tours and share local history with visitors.

Developing visitor facilities and experiences

NPWS is committed to developing facilities for the enjoyment and safety of visitors to Kosciuszko National Park. Visitor feedback and environmental sustainability are key considerations in park maintenance, and upgrades are ongoing. Heritage cottages, campgrounds, picnic areas, and trails are continually maintained and upgraded, and NPWS regularly reviews the park’s recreational opportunities, identifying areas for improvement or addition. Hazard assessments are also ongoing.

Kosciuszko National Park has achieved Australia’s first Ecotourism Destination Certification, through Ecotourism Australia, recognising best practice sustainable tourism and visitation in protected areas.

Managing fire

NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world due to our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

Conservation program

Hazard reduction program

Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a multi-layered approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to reducing risks from fire-prone fuels, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and the community.

High Plains, Kosciuszko National Park. Photo: Murray van der Veer