Southeastern New South Wales may be a small region tucked in the southeastern corner of New South Wales, but geographically, it is one the most diverse; beaches characterise the least visited regions of the NSW South Coast, while mountains and snow characterise the inland, making it a popular destination for snowsports. Outside the NSW Outback and the regions that surround it, it is one of the most sparsely population regions not just in NSW, but southeastern Australia as a whole.
The roof of Australia, a region of mountains with most of it being part of Kosciuszko National Park, unique scenery and winter sports, home to the ski resorts of Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Mount Selwyn.
Kilometres of unspoiled beaches, coves and bays; small coastal communities and spectacular scenery
Home to hundreds of beaches with around that attract only one visitor per day, unspoiled.
- 1 Batemans Bay – a popular beachside destination for Canberrans
- 2 Bega – known for its cheese factory
- 3 Cooma – about an equal hour's drive to the most important districts of Kosciuszko National Park
- 4 Eden – a former whaling town now home to a whale museum
- 5 Jindabyne – at the base of Kosciuszko National Park
- 6 Merimbula – a small beachside town popular with Victorians
- 7 Moruya – another beachside town centred around the Moruya River
- 8 Narooma – clear blue waters are the scene of this town
- 9 Tumut – situated in the northwest of the Snowies, where elevations suddenly rise from ≈400 to 1500 metres
Other destinations edit
- 1 Beowa National Park – 47 kilometres of rocky coastlines, inlets and untouched beaches
- 2 Deua National Park – a popular park for bushwalking
- 3 Kosciuszko National Park – protects nearly all of the Snowy Mountains (the NSW side, that is) making it the largest New South Wales national park, home to lots of hiking trails, ski resorts and natural wonders
- 4 Mount Kosciuszko – at 2228 metres, it is mainland Australia's highest peak, which also makes it the easiest of all Seven Summits to reach.
- 5 Perisher – a group of four ski resorts connected to Jindabyne by the skitube
- 6 Thredbo – another popular ski resort at the base of Mount Kosciuszko
- 7 Yarrangobilly Caves – see some spectacular, jaw-dropping caves with some impressive stalagmites. It's also got New South Wales' most prominent hot springs
- 8 Montague Island – home of a fur seal colony and countless penguins
- 9 South East Forest National Park – one of the last remaining pristine wilderness forests in New South Wales
Southeastern New South Wales is known for its impressive landscapes; from the long, unspoiled beaches of the Eurobodalla and the Sapphire Coasts, to the scenic photogenic mountains of the Snowy Mountains, or Snowies as it's locally known. The three regions are very diverse yet so similar.
The region is cold: it is the coldest part of New South Wales. Temperatures are more comparable to northeastern United States, some towns, especially in the Snowy Mountains may not see temperatures above the freezing point.
Contrary to other regions in the state, this isn't a common name that's used in conversation – you're more likely to hear the names of individual regions, though what the two coastal regions vary – those who like to break the South Coast down into specific regions call it by their respective region names, while those who like to generalise regions will just call both regions "South Coast". However, major broadcast tend to group the region, such as the ABC South East NSW, but the naming is not consistent. For simplicity, Wikivoyage has chosen to go with Southeastern New South Wales.
Get in edit
By car edit
There are four major highways that can be used to enter southeastern New South Wales, though it largely differs by region.
- Highway 1, mostly used by travellers from the Greater Sydney region south to get to Eurobodalla and sometimes the Sapphire Coast or travellers coming from Victorian to the west. Princes Highway is just one of the many routes that make up Australia's
- Canberra. South of the Snowies and you'll head towards Cann River in the East Gippsland region of Victoria Monaro Highway is the prime way to get into the Snowy Mountains from Greater Sydney, passing through
- Riverina or anywhere to the west of Canberra. It may be a feasible route if you're coming from Victoria, but it usually takes an hour longer than using the B23. Snowy Mountains Highway from the
- Thredbo or Perisher. Murray Valley Highway, which becomes the unnumbered Alpine Way in New South Wales to go to the ski resorts such as
By plane edit
There are two airports with regularly scheduled flights: the Cooma–Snowy Mountains Airport (OOL IATA) a few kilometres southwest of Cooma serving the Snowy Mountains, and Merimbula Airport (MIM IATA) just to the south of Merimbula serving the Sapphire Coast. There are no airports in Eurobodalla.
Though the two airports are in the southeast, both have very different purposes. The Snowy Mountains Airport is specifically designed to be a central hub for exploring the Snowy Mountains; most travellers who fly to Cooma are travellers who have come to visit Thredbo, Perisher or just the Snowy Mountains in general. Very few fly to the airport to visit only Cooma. Meanwhile, the Merimbula Airport is designed for tourists coming from Victoria. While there are rental cars available, most travellers who fly into Merimbula often only visit Merimbula. Be aware that renting a car may come with limits, and if you're intending to go on dirt tracks or gravel roads, check whether it is permitted.
Get around edit
Public transport in Southeastern New South Wales is almost nonexistent. With a few exceptions such as the skitube to Perisher, getting around southeastern New South Wales has to be done by car. While the roads have improved over the decades, it can still take hours to get from one place to another, especially in the Snowy Mountains. Many roads that aren't numbered are very narrow, so it's quite easy to underestimate distances – to give just one example, a drive from Thredbo to Khancoban is just 78 km, which would ideally take you 47 minutes on average if you're going on a typical rural road in New South Wales. However, due to the narrow winding road, it actually takes over 2 hours.
Some roads require all 2WDs to carry snow chains – see Snowy Mountains § Get around. Take extra precaution on snow roads, as most Australian cars are not equipped with winter tyres – see driving in New Zealand and winter driving for some good tips that apply to this region.
While major highways may be wide enough to accommodation one lane each way, the roads between the coastal areas and the Snowy Mountains can get very steep with lots of hairpins along the way. Be extra careful around trucks; trucks may need to cross the centre/median line to get around hairpins. Waiting an extra few minutes won't cost you anything.
There's quite a lot to see in southeastern New South Wales, from natural scenery, to museums, to historic sites. While this area has been a significant area to the Indigenous peoples, there just isn't as much of an "indigenous emphasis" compared to other regions of New South Wales.
From May to November, southeastern New South Wales is a great place for whale-watching. Humpback whales usually migrate from Antarctica north for some warmer waters during May and the early months of winter, and later in the whale-watching season during spring, the whales usually migrate back to Antarctica but with their calves. Due to the large number of whales that pass by, this area used to be a location for whaling, but the industry has since died ever since the humpback whales were protected. The Eden Killer Whale Museum in Eden is a great place to learn more about the whaling industry in the region and also shore-based whaling, something that Indigenous Australians did prior to European colonisation.
Though not as well known as the Victorian Gold Rush and the Eureka Stockade, this region did also have its own gold rush during the 1850s. It did bring wealth to the region (for a short time anyway), but a few remnants remain around the Batemans Bay Region and the Snowy Mountains.
Like elsewhere in the state, there are good hiking and bushwalking trails in all three regions. Whether it's the short 1.1-km Pinnacles loop walking track in Beowa National Park, the 6-km Kosciuszko walk in the Thredbo-Perisher region of Kosciuszko National Park or the 15-km Nunnock Swamp and Grasslands track in SE Forest National Park, there's a bushwalking trail for everyone.
In the coastal areas, bushwalks mostly resemble a typical bushwalk in New South Wales, but in the Snowy Mountains and the areas surrounding it, it can be an experience of its own. First up, if you're stereotyping everywhere in Australia to be bright sunny, and entirely covered in desert, probably don't, or otherwise you're going to be in some serious trouble, and second, remember that you don't necessarily have to hike these trails during winter; snow does regularly cover most trails that have elevations of over 1600 meters, and if you're not comfortable hiking in snow, these trails are mostly ice-free during summer and autumn.
Though often only overemphasized in the Snowies, this does apply to the entire region: if you're going out in a remote bushwalking trail, consider filling out a trip intention form. Personal locater beacons are only available in the Snowy Mountains, but you may want to contact the Merimbula NSW Parks office if you're hiking in the remote Sapphire Coast. Remember that there is little to no mobile reception throughout the region outside major highways and settlements, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Apart from bushwalking, if you're visiting the coast, what's the purpose of visiting a beach and not getting into the water? Unfortunately, patrolled beaches are a bit hard to find, but most beaches by a town will have at least one lifeguard, but this is not always the case. The waters can get very rough here, so remember to swim between the red and yellow flags, and reconsider whether you want to go out for a swim in a remote, unpatrolled beach without a lifeguard.
Each December, the 240-kilometre (150 mi) Coast to Kosciuszko ultramarathon is held – it starts at Twofold Bay near Eden with an elevation of zero metres and ends at Charlotte Pass after reaching the summit of Mount Kosciuszko (elv. 2,228 m).
Australia's Highway 1 (the ring route around the country) also passes Eurobodalla and the Sapphire Coast, but not the Snowy Mountains.
Restaurant availability is a bit limited in southeastern NSW, but nevertheless still easy to find, contrary to Outback New South Wales. Food is still reasonably priced, and even if you're that pesky ultra-low-cost-budget traveller who will do anything to save money, you'll still survive SE New South Wales, albeit find it a bit tricky.
As a remnant of Australia's colonial heritage, most coastal towns in have at least one fish and chip shop, though you will almost certainly find other eateries too. This is particularly reflected in smaller towns, often with only one or two other stores.
Food in the Snowy Mountains, in particular the ski resorts of Thredbo and Perisher can get very expensive – you will have to at least spend a minimum of $20 for just one meal, maybe $15 if you try and salvage some of the cheaper foods. Otherwise, everything in the Snowies and the coastal areas are like any other place rural NSW outside the Outback.
Bars and pubs are like any other in the state. They are often a bit quieter though, and don't really get as violent. The region isn't really known for any special kind of beverage.
Stay safe edit
Being a largely quiet touristed rural area, southeastern New South Wales is relatively safe compared to most of the state. Crime is low, and the main problems you'll face are often due to the remoteness of the region. While you won't have any major issues if you only stick to the main highways and towns, if you go a bit out off the beaten path, mobile reception is limited and there are few facilities.
While many often only relate the cold to the Snowies, all three regions can get very cold for New South Wales standards. The Snowies regularly plummet to the negatives, even during daytime, while the coastal areas often stay within the single digits even during spring and late autumn. Make sure to bring adequate clothing, especially if you're camping because finding large clothing stores is hard and the few that are there are quite expensive.
Go next edit
Southeastern New South Wales is very close to the Australian Capital Territory and unless you're a Canberran, the capital city is a popular destination to visit, especially from the Snowies and the Eurobodalla region.
Go a little southeast across the Murray River and you'll hit Victoria (the state, not the capital of British Columbia or the Seychelles). Victoria's Gippsland region is vast, and has some very impressive seascapes. Victoria's High Country is also the Victorian equivalent of NSW's Snowy Mountains, and while the region doesn't have 2000-metre peaks, the region receives more snowfall and has more ski resorts (with Mount Buller, Falls Creek, and Mount Hotham being the equivalent of NSW's Thredbo or Perisher).
Drive a little bit north from the Eurobodalla region along the Princes Highway and you'll hit the Shoalhaven region; a region with impressive white beaches. The white beaches were so white that a tourist started a conspiracy theory that Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay is the whitest beach in the world in order to attract more visitors and many actually fell for it. While that's not true, it brought the once-(relatively) unknown beach into a popular tourist spot.
If you're into wine, the Riverina region just to the west of the Snowies have some excellent wineries. Unfortunately, unless you're leaving from a place like Tumut, to get to the Riverina or anywhere west, you'll need to cross the very winding Snowy Mountains Highway up and then back down again – not something ideal to do several times.