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Best Drives in Australia: The Monaro Highway

If you ever have to drive from Sydney to Melbourne why not by pass the Hume Highway and take the scenic route through the Snowy Mountains instead? The Snowy mountains is some of the best scenery in all of Australia that believe it or not few Australians have actually ever taken the time to see. They are missing out, but that doesn’t me you should miss out on it too.

To reach the Snowy Mountains you have to drive to Canberra and from the nation’s capitol you have to proceed South on Highway 23 to the city of Jindabyne. Highway 23 running south from Canberra is better known as the Monaro Highway:

While driving on the Monaro Highway the road runs parallel to the under-appreciated, rugged bush land scenery of Namadgi National Park:

Once Highway 23 escapes the beautiful environs of Namadgi National Park the road quickly is surrounded by open grazing land:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Once Highway 23 reaches Cooma you need to drive straight through the city and continue down the highway towards Jindabyne. The Monaro becomes Highway 18/23 at this point.

Cooma is a small town of 7,000 people and serves as the headquarters for the Snowy Mountains Scheme that is a series of hydroelectric dams that provides 3.5% of the power for the nation’s energy needs. Really not much to see in the town besides a museum dedicated to Snowy Mountains Scheme history of the city.

Once outside of Cooma the terrain opens up even more with lush grazing land sprinkled with large rocks:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Here is the obligatory picture of my Jeep along the highway:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Make sure as you travel through Cooma that you stay on the road going to Jindabyne. It is nearly impossible to miss the signs but you will know you are going the right way when you see this in front of you:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

The snow capped Snowy Mountains or Snowies as the locals call them, are beautiful and quite a sight when you consider you are seeing these snow capped mountains in Australia of all places. Snow capped mountains is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the land Down Under, but Australia has plenty of them:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Eventually the Monaro Highway will reach Lake Jindabyne at the base of the Snowy Mountains:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

You can see in this satellite image that Jindabyne lies at the very base of the Snowy Mountains and hugs the shore line of the lake:

The Monaro Highway skirts around this huge lake and the water is just stunningly calm and clear:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

The closer you get to the shore the more stunning it is:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

To the west of the lake the snow covered slopes of the Snowy Mountains tower over the lake:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Finally the highway reaches the small town of Jindabyne:

Picture From the Monaro Highway

Jindabyne is a well known outdoors holiday spot in Australia due to its great fishing, bushwalking, and the nearby Thredbo Ski Resort. Jindabyne is also well known because of an Australian movie titled and based on the city. I have seen the movie before and it isn’t to bad. It is worth watching just to see the spectacular Snowy Mountain scenery in the film.

Anyway it is the end of the road here in Jindabyne, however another great Australian drive that shouldn’t be missed begins here as well. The Alpine Way is the highest and one of the most spectacular highways in all of Australia that begins in Jindabyne and ends at the New South Wales/Victoria border, where the Murray Valley Highway begins.

If you had the chance to take the day drive on the Monaro Highway from Canberra to Jindabyne and thought that was a spectacular ride, you haven’t seen anything yet until you drive the Alpine Way.

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