If you're dreaming of some time out from city life, the alpine wildflower season is the perfect motivation to get back to nature and find some zen. From Canberra, it's only a couple of hours drive to the New South Wales high country where you'll feel a world away from the stresses of everyday life. As you leave the city limits, roll down the window (trust me, fresh air beats air conditioning for this trip), take a deep breath and enjoy the sight of the endless sky stretched across the horizon of the Monaro plains. The sheep, cattle and granite boulders create a dramatic backdrop as the road winds into the mountains.
The wildflowers burst to life and put on a vibrant show during spring and summer with the peak season between mid-December and mid-January just as the sun warms the hills and the bulk of the winter snows have melted away. Breathing in the crisp mountain air and gazing across jagged outcrops dotted with billy buttons, alpine daisies and more is a serene experience, one which will leave you marvelling at the resilience of the determined little buds and blooms that pop up in the harsh alpine environment year after year.
Billy buttons during alpine wildflower season at Kosciuszko National Park
As you pass Jindabyne and head into the mountains proper, its time to choose where to see the flowers. You can take the Alpine Way to Thredbo which offers the chance to take in both the wildflowers and, if you feel like a hike, also climb to the highest point in Australia. The Kosciuszko Summit walk winds through prime wildflower areas and they are easily visible from the marked track. Little microclimates along the way allow for plenty of variety but the billy buttons and daisies are easy to find meaning you can make the walk as long or short as you choose and still see some flowers.
Alternatively, if you head to Charlotte Pass which is generally accessible but car during spring and summer, the Blue Lake walk (moderately difficult) and the Snow Gums Boardwalk (very easy) both offer a great opportunity to spot some local flora. The Snow Gums Boardwalk is a fantastic option for the less mobile adventurers like young toddlers or older people but does have some stairs. The Boardwalk has lookout points which offer panoramic views across the range. You can get up close to the artful trunks of the local snow gums shaded in red, orange and purple and, even so, close to the road, the wildflowers will be nodding their pretty heads at you along the way. There are plenty of other mountain tracks to choose from depending on your fitness and experience - for more information on some options click here.
If you prefer pedal power, the Thredbo Valley Track scoots through some beautiful terrain and offers some family-friendly sections perfect for wheeling through the wildflowers. The rack is shared use so whether you choose to travel on wheels or by foot, this is another option for your floral adventure.
To make a day of it, dining options include the Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery and the Alpine Larder, both on the road back from Thredbo, and the Kosi Bar and Bistro (from late December) at Charlotte Pass. With fantastic food and over 21 varieties of flower popping up over spring and summer, whichever walk (or ride) you choose is guaranteed to provide a great weekend escape.