The NSW ski resorts can be hectic, especially on weekends and during the holidays but there is a way to escape the crowds and still enjoy the snow: snowshoeing. Snowshoeing is much more mellow than the better-known alpine sports and offers the perfect opportunity to explore the natural beauty of Australia's alpine areas.
If you're looking for a really zen mountain experience, the gentle exercise, solitude, fresh air and nature of snowshoeing are a perfect way to find it. You don't need a high level of skill or fitness to snowshoe, nor do you need a lot of equipment. If you have warm clothing, some waterproof shoes and a set of snowshoes (available for sale or hire at Wilderness Sports in Jindabyne and Perisher), you're good to go.
Perisher is the only resort in Australia with dedicated snowshoe trails and if you want to stay fairly close to the resort, there's a nice little marked trail, the Rock Creek Track, which begins at Perisher Valley. The 3km loop track takes you through some magical scenery around Rock Creek including snow-capped boulders and a snow gum woodland. The silence and peace of the area is beautiful and provides a great way to clear your head in the fresh mountain air. It's hard to believe the chaos of front valley is so close because some parts of the trail are so quiet it feels like you have it all to yourself. The Rock Creek Track loops past the Mt Perisher Double Chair where you can grab a hot chocolate.
If you prefer a bit more adventure, there are snowshoe walks which get you beyond the boundaries of the ski resorts and out into the alpine wilderness. Wilderness Sports in Perisher Valley offer both planned guided walks or customisable options. The guided walks to Mt Wheatley (3 hours) or Porcupine Rocks (full day) get you among the unusual granite features and provide an outlook across the mountains. You can even snowshoe to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko (full day) – the distance and conditions in winter make this walk more challenging and not ideal for beginners.
Wilderness Sports is located at Perisher Valley which is a three-hour drive from Canberra. Parking at Perisher can be limited over the winter and driving conditions can become hazardous so you can also drive to the ski tube at Bullocks Flat on the Alpine Way and get to Perisher Valley that way.
If you've never explored the backcountry, snowshoeing is an accessible way to get out and see this beautiful and unique part of Australia. Even a short snowshoe will leave you feeling invigorated and alive - a perfect weekend walk to add to your Canberra winter bucket list.