Kosciuszko National Park

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Kosciuszko National Park
New South Wales
IUCN category II (national park)
Australia New South Wales relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Kosciuszko National Park
Nearest town or city Cabramurra
Coordinates 36°04′20″S148°20′55″E / 36.07222°S 148.34861°E / -36.07222; 148.34861 Coordinates: 36°04′20″S148°20′55″E / 36.07222°S 148.34861°E / -36.07222; 148.34861
Established1 October 1967 (1967-10-01)
Area6,900 km2 (2,664.1 sq mi)
Managing authorities NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service
Website Kosciuszko National Park
See also Protected areas of
New South Wales

The Kosciuszko National Park /ˌkɒziˈʌsk/ [1] is a 6,900-square-kilometre (2,700 sq mi) national park and contains mainland Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, for which it is named, and Cabramurra the highest town in Australia. Its borders contain a mix of rugged mountains and wilderness, characterised by an alpine climate, which makes it popular with recreational skiers and bushwalkers.

National park Park used for conservation purposes of animal life and plants

A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of 'wild nature' for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Mount Kosciuszko highest mountain in mainland Australia

Mount Kosciuszko is mainland Australia's highest mountain, at 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. It is located on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park, part of the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves, in New South Wales, Australia, and is located west of Crackenback and close to Jindabyne.


The park is located in the southeastern corner of New South Wales, 354 km (220 mi) southwest of Sydney, and is contiguous with the Alpine National Park in Victoria to the south, and the Namadgi National Park in the Australian Capital Territory to the northeast. The larger towns of Cooma, Tumut and Jindabyne lie just outside and service the park.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In December 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 8 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Alpine National Park Protected area in Victoria, Australia

The Alpine National Park is a national park located in the Central Highlands and Alpine regions of Victoria, Australia. The 646,000-hectare (1,600,000-acre) national park is located northeast of Melbourne. It is the largest National Park in Victoria, and covers much of the higher areas of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria, including Victoria's highest point, Mount Bogong at 1,986 metres (6,516 ft) and the associated subalpine woodland and grassland of the Bogong High Plains. The park's north-eastern boundary is along the border with New South Wales, where it abuts the Kosciuszko National Park. On 7 November 2008 the Alpine National Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.

Victoria (Australia) State in Australia

Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's smallest mainland state and its second-most populous state overall, making it the most densely populated state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea, to the east, and South Australia to the west.

The waters of the Snowy River, the Murray River, and Gungarlin River all rise in this park. Other notable peaks in the park include Gungartan, Mount Jagungal, Bimberi Peak and Mount Townsend.

Snowy River river

The Snowy River is a major river in south-eastern Australia. It originates on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest mainland peak, draining the eastern slopes of the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, before flowing through the Alpine National Park and the Snowy River National Park in Victoria and emptying into Bass Strait.

Murray River the longest river in Australia

The Murray River is Australia's longest river, at 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length. The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia's highest mountains, and then meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia. It turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres (196 mi), reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

Gungartan mountain in Australia

Gungartan is a mountain located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.

On 7 November 2008, the Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves. [2]

Australian National Heritage List national heritage register of Australia

The Australian National Heritage List is a heritage register, a list of national heritage places deemed to be of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. The list includes natural, historic and indigenous places. Once on the National Heritage List the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 apply.

Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves Protected area in Australia

The Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves is a group of eleven protected areas consisting of national parks, nature reserves and one wilderness park located in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria and which was listed as a "place" on the Australian National Heritage List on 7 November 2008 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The listing which covers an area of 16,531.80 square kilometres (6,382.96 sq mi), contains the vast majority of alpine and sub-alpine environments in Australia. The listing includes the following protected areas - Alpine, Baw Baw, Brindabella, Kosciuszko, Mount Buffalo, Namadgi and Snowy River national parks; the Avon Wilderness Park, and the Bimberi, Scabby Range and Tidbinbilla nature reserves.


Kiandra Snow Shoe Carnival 1900 Kiandra carnival 1900 Charles Kerry.jpeg
Kiandra Snow Shoe Carnival 1900
Cabramurra, Australia's highest town, was built during construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Cabramurra July 2011.jpg
Cabramurra, Australia's highest town, was built during construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

The Snowy Mountains region is thought to have had Aboriginal occupation for some twenty thousand years, though harsh winter weather made habitation of the snow country impossible. Large-scale intertribal gatherings were held in the High Country during summer for collective feasting on the Bogong moth. This practice continued until around 1864. [3]

Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia

The Snowy Mountains, known informally as "The Snowies", is an IBRA subregion and the highest mountain range on the continent of mainland Australia. It contains the Australian mainland's highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, which reaches to a height of 2,228 m (7,310 ft) above sea level. The range also contains the five highest peaks on the Australian mainland, all of which are above 2,100 m (6,890 ft). They are located in southern New South Wales and are part of the larger Australian Alps and Great Dividing Range. Unusual for Australia, the mountain range experiences large natural snowfalls every winter. Snow normally falls during June, July, August and early September, with the snow cover melting by late spring. The Tasmanian highlands makes up the other (major) alpine region present in Australia.

Bogong moth species of insect

The bogong moth is a temperate species of night-flying moth, notable for its biannual long-distance seasonal migrations towards and from the Australian Alps, similar to the diurnal monarch butterfly. During the autumn and winter it is found in southern Queensland, western New South Wales, western Victoria, and also in South and Western Australia. Adult bogong moths breed and larvae hatch during this period, consuming winter pasture plants during their growth. During the spring, the moths migrate south or east and reside in mountains such as Mount Bogong, where they gregariously aestivate over the summer until their return towards breeding grounds again in the autumn.

The area was first explored by Europeans in 1835, and in 1840, Edmund Strzelecki ascended Mount Kosciuszko and named it after a Polish patriot. High-country stockmen followed, using the Snowy Mountains for grazing during the summer months. Banjo Paterson's famous poem The Man From Snowy River recalls this era. The cattle graziers have left a legacy of mountain huts scattered across the area. [4] Today these huts are maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service or volunteer organisations like the Kosciuszko Huts Association. [5] In the 19th century, gold was mined on the high plains near Kiandra. [6] At its height, this community had a population of about 4,000 people, and ran 14 hotels. It was here that Skiing in Australia commenced around 1861. Since the last resident left in 1974, Kiandra has become a ghost town of ruins and abandoned diggings. [7] In the 20th century, the focus of Skiing in New South Wales shifted south closer to the Kosciuszko Main Range.

Banjo Paterson Australian journalist, author and poet

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, was an Australian bush poet, journalist and author. He wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing particularly on the rural and outback areas, including the district around Binalong, New South Wales, where he spent much of his childhood. Paterson's more notable poems include "Clancy of the Overflow" (1889), "The Man from Snowy River" (1890) and "Waltzing Matilda" (1895), regarded widely as Australia's unofficial national anthem.

The Man from Snowy River (poem) 1890 poem written by Andrew Barton Paterson

"The Man from Snowy River" is a poem by Australian bush poet Banjo Paterson. It was first published in The Bulletin, an Australian news magazine, on 26 April 1890, and was published by Angus & Robertson in October 1895, with other poems by Paterson, in The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses.

The Kosciuszko Huts Association was formed in Canberra, Australia in 1971 with the purpose of saving the mountain heritage huts in the Kosciuszko National Park. The initial meeting was supported by the past Parks commissioner, Neville Gare and resulted in a small group of individuals forming the association.

The Kosciuszko National Park came into existence as the National Chase Snowy Mountains on 5 December 1906. In April 1944, following the passage of the Kosciusko State Park Act, the Kosciusko State Park was proclaimed. [6] [8] [9] It then became the Kosciuszko National Park in 1967. [10] The name was misspelt as Kosciusko until 1997. [6]

The construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme between 1949–74 saw much of the area explored, brought improvements to roads and resulted in the construction of several dams and tunnels across the Park in one of the world's largest engineering achievements

Heritage listings

Kosciuszko National Park has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


The higher regions of the park experience an alpine climate which is unusual on mainland Australia. However, only the peaks of the main range are subject to consistent heavy winter snow. The climate station at Charlotte Pass recorded Australia's lowest temperature of −23 °C (−9 °F) on 28 June 1994. [12]


Lake Cootapatamba in the characteristically U shaped glacial valley, Kosciuszko National Park. AU Kosciuszko L Cootapatamba.jpg
Lake Cootapatamba in the characteristically U shaped glacial valley, Kosciuszko National Park.

During the last ice age, which peaked about 20,000 years ago in the Pleistocene epoch, the highest peaks of the main range near Mount Kosciuszko experienced a climate which favoured the formation of glaciers, evidence of which can still be seen today. Cirques moraines, tarn lakes, roche moutonnées and other glacial features can all be seen in the area. Lake Cootapatamba, which was formed by an ice spilling from Mount Kosciuszko's southern flank, is the highest lake on the Australian mainland. Lake Albina, Club Lake, Blue Lake, and Hedley Tarn also have glacial origins. [13]

There is some disagreement as to exactly how widespread Pleistocene glaciation was on the main range, and little or no evidence from earlier glacial periods exists. The 'David Moraine', a one-kilometre-long ridge running across Spencers Creek valley seems to indicate a larger glacier existed in this area at some time, however the glacial origin of this feature is disputed. [14]

There is evidence of periglacial activity in the area. Solifluction appears to have created terraces on the northwest flank of Mount Northcote. Frost heave is also a significant agent of soil erosion in the Kosciuszko Area.


Snow Gum at tree line along Dead Horse Gap Walk, Kosciuszko National Park. Snow Gum on the Dead Horse Gap Walk.jpg
Snow Gum at tree line along Dead Horse Gap Walk, Kosciuszko National Park.

The Kosciuszko National Park covers a variety of climatic regions which support several distinct ecosystems.

That which is most closely identified with the park, the alpine area above the tree line, is one of the most fragile and covers the smallest area. This area is a patchwork of alpine heaths, herbfields, feldmarks, bogs and fens. The windswept feldmark ecotope is endemic to the alpine region, and covers a mere 300,000 m2 (3,200,000 sq ft). It is most vulnerable to the wandering footsteps of unmindful tourists.

Nine separate wilderness zones have been identified in the latest management scheme. [15] These include the Indi, Byadbo, Pilot, Jagungal, Bogong Peaks, Goobarragandra, Western Falls, Bramina and Bimberi wilderness areas.


Many rare or threatened plant and animal species occur within the boundaries of the park.

The park is home to one of Australia's most threatened species: the corroboree frog. The endangered mountain pygmy possum and the more common dusky antechinus are located in the high country of the park.

There are also significant populations of feral animals in the park, including brumbies or wild horses. Park authorities have coordinated their culling and relocation, [16] leading to public controversy over how to reduce their numbers. The actual number of horses within the park is also difficult to ascertain with estimates ranging from 1700 in 2008 increasing by 300 each year, [17] 7679 in 2009, [18] and from 2500 to 14,000 in 2013-2014. [19] [20] [21] In 2016 the population was estimated to be 6000. [22]


Map of the national park. The Australian Alps Walking Track is shown in yellow. Kosciuszko National Park map Stevage.png
Map of the national park. The Australian Alps Walking Track is shown in yellow.

Much of the park is dominated by alpine woodlands, characterised by the snow gum. Montane and wet sclerophyll forest also occur across the ranges, supporting large stands of alpine ash and mountain gum. In the southern Byadbo wilderness area, dry sclerophyll and wattle forests predominate. Amongst the many different native trees in the park, the large Chinese elm has become naturalised.

Much of the tree cover in the lower sections of the park was seriously burned in bushfires in 2003. Fires are a natural feature of the park ecosystem, but it will take some time for the region to return to its pre 2003 condition.

Recreational uses

A tranquil section of Thredbo River Thredbo-River Crackenback.jpg
A tranquil section of Thredbo River


The mountains are typically covered by metre-deep snow for up to four months of the year. [6] The ski resorts of Thredbo, Selwyn snowfields, Perisher and Charlotte Pass lie within the park. The electric rack railway, called the Skitube Alpine Railway, connects the Alpine Way to the Perisher Valley.


The 655 kilometre Australian Alps Walking Track crosses almost the length of the park. Many thousands of people make the walk to Mount Kosciuszko during the summer. It is 9 kilometres from Charlotte Pass, or 6 kilometres from the Thredbo chairlift. Camping is permitted anywhere in the park except within sight of a road or near a watercourse[ citation needed ]. The lighting of fires is severely restricted in higher altitudes. [6]

Mountain biking is allowed on all management trails outside of wilderness areas, and on a small number within them: Grey Mare Trail, Round Mountain Trail, Valentine Trail, Hellhole Creek Trail, Cascade Trail, Ingegoodbee Trail and Nine Mile Trail. [23]

Canoeing and swimming in the rivers and lakes are popular in the warmer weather. [6] The rivers and dams are stocked with trout from nearby hatcheries. Seasonal trout fishing is allowed after a permit is obtained. Other attractions include the whitewater rafting, trail riding, Yarrangobilly Caves, Cooleman Caves, Tin Mine Falls, Australia's highest waterfall and Valentine Falls. Guided tours are conducted through several caves in the karst region of Yarrangobilly. Other tours are also available.

Sawpit Creek has a major campground with facilities for caravans and cabins available for rent. [6]

The Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme

The Snowy River originates in the park and flows south to Victoria. Many tunnels, dams, generators and other parts of the Snowy Mountains Scheme hydro-electric system are located within the park, including the Tantangara Reservoir.

The Snowy Scheme, constructed between 1949 and 1974, is a hydroelectricity and irrigation complex consisting of sixteen major dams; seven power stations; a pumping station; and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts. The Chief engineer was Sir William Hudson. It is the largest engineering project undertaken in Australia. [24] [25] [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Charlotte Pass, New South Wales town in New South Wales, Australia

Charlotte Pass, elevation 1,837 metres (6,027 ft), is a location, snow resort and village in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. The pass is located in the Kosciuszko National Park where the Kosciuszko Road crosses Kangaroo Ridge. Charlotte Pass is the closest village to Mount Kosciuszko.

Eucumbene River river in Australia

The Eucumbene River, a perennial river of the Snowy River catchment, is located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.

Perisher Valley, New South Wales human settlement in New South Wales, Australia

Perisher Valley, commonly called Perisher, is a valley formed below Mount Perisher, a mountain that is located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Mount Townsend mountain in New South Wales, Australia

Mount Townsend, a mountain in the Main Range of the Great Dividing Range, is located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.

Adaminaby Town in New South Wales, Australia

Adaminaby is a small town near the Snowy Mountains north-west of Cooma, New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council. The historic town, of 301 people at the 2016 census, is a trout fishing centre and winter sports destination situated at 1,017 metres (3,337 ft) above sea level. Economic life is built around tourism and agriculture–the town serves as a service point for Selwyn Snowfields and the Northern Skifields. It is also a popular destination for horse riders, bushwalkers, fly-fishermen and water sports enthusiasts as well as a base for viewing aspects of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Mount Jagungal mountain in Australia

Mount Jagungal or sometimes Jagungal, Big Bogong, The Big Bogong Nr., or The Big Bogong Mountain, is a mountain within the Jagungal Wilderness Area of the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.

Kiandra, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Kiandra is an abandoned gold mining town and the birthplace of Australian skiing. The town is situated in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council inside the Kosciuszko National Park. Its name is a corruption of Aboriginal 'Gianderra' for 'sharp stones for knives'. It was earlier called Gibson's Plains, named after Dr. Gibson, a settler in the district in 1839. For a century, Kiandra was Australia's highest town.

Guthega, New South Wales Town in New South Wales, Australia

Guthega is a ski village and the site for a hydro electric dam located in the Kosciuszko National Park, on the upper reaches of the Snowy River, on the western face of Mount Blue Cow, Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

Australian Alps Walking Track hiking trail in South East Australia

The Australian Alps Walking Track is a long distance walking trail through the alpine areas of Victoria, New South Wales and ACT. It is 655 km long, starting at Walhalla, Victoria and running through to Tharwa, ACT near Canberra. The track weaves mainly through Australian national parks, such as Alpine National Park and Kosciuszko National Park, though it is not exclusively restricted to national parks. It ascends many peaks including Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Bogong, and Bimberi Peak, the highest points in N.S.W., Victoria, and the A.C.T. respectively. The AAWT crosses exposed high plains including the Victorian Bogong High Plains and the Main Range in NSW. To walk the whole trail can take between 5 and 8 weeks. Food drops or a support crew are necessary, as the trail passes through no towns, although it passes close to the ski resorts of Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Baw Baw, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Perisher.

Bimberi Peak mountain

Bimberi Peak or Mount Bimberi with an elevation of 1,913 metres (6,276 ft) located within the Brindabella Ranges is the highest mountain in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). It is located on the border between New South Wales (NSW) and the ACT, the NSW portion in Kosciuszko National Park and the ACT portion in Namadgi National Park. It is accessible by bush walking trails and requires no specialised climbing skills, although there is no marked trail to the very summit.

Skiing in Australia overview of skiing practiced in Australia

Skiing in Australia takes place in the high country of the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, as well as in the Australian Capital Territory, during the southern hemisphere winter.

Lake Albina lake in Australia

Lake Albina is a glacial lake in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia. The lake is located within the Kosciuszko National Park and the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.

Perisher Ski Resort ski resort in New South Wales, Australia

Perisher Ski Resort is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the Australian Snowy Mountains, the resort is an amalgamation of four villages and their associated ski fields, covering approximately 12 square kilometres (5 sq mi), with the base elevation at 1,720 metres (5,640 ft) AHD, and the summit elevation of 2,054 metres (6,739 ft) at the top of Mount Perisher. 4.4 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi) of this area is covered by 240 snow guns, which are used to artificially supplement the natural snowfall. Perisher was acquired by Vail Resorts, United States on March 30, 2015 for a sum of approximately AU$177 million.

Skiing in New South Wales overview of skiing practiced in New South Wales

Skiing in New South Wales takes place in the high country of the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales during the Southern Hemisphere winter.

Mount Wellington (Victoria) mountain in Victoria, Australia

Mount Wellington is a mountain located to the north-east of Licola in Victoria, Australia. It is on the border of the Alpine National Park and Avon Wilderness Park. The Avon River rises on its south-eastern slopes.

Happy Jacks Creek

The Happy Jacks Creek, a perennial river that is part of the Murrumbidgee catchment within the Murray–Darling basin, is located in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales, Australia.


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