The lake, which sprawls for more than 30 sq. kilometres, is not only pristinely beautiful owing to its mirror like surface. It is also clean enough to drink, and so sparkling clear that boaters can see down to a depth of about two metres!
Australia's Family Playground
As the pride of New South Wales, Lake Jindabyne was created almost 50 years ago with the damming of the Snowy River, one of 16 dams that dot the region as part of the magnificent Snowy Hydro Scheme. And the happy result today is an amazing reservoir which is fed by the melting snows of the nearby Snowy Mountains - the crystal waters pour into the lake via three rivers.
What’s more, aside from being a major recreational centre in its own right, the lake is a popular gateway to Australia’s high country, sometimes called ‘The Roof of Australia’ – with easy passage to the 700,000 hectare Kosciuszko National Park and the country’s highest ski resorts. Near here, too, is the country’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, which reaches 2,228 metres into the deep blue skies.Jindabyne town itself is compact, with less than 2,000 residents, and resembles a charming European alpine village. This latter fact is not too surprising, as the Tyrolean-like town sits at an elevation of more than 900 meters; nestled on the banks of the tranquil lake, a range of snow-covered mountains rise behind the land in a dramatic backdrop.
Considered by many to be the adventure capital of Australia, Jindabyne (the name is an aboriginal word meaning “valley”) can be reached from Canberra in less than two hours’ drive. From Sydney it’s just over a five-hour drive, or seven from Melbourne – all on excellent highways.
As a family-friendly resort community, Jindabyne is almost unique as its ambiance changes as the temperatures change, according to the seasons. Thus it serves as both a mellow winter base for ski lovers heading for the nearby slopes, but also as a hot-weather escape for boaters and water-sports fans, or for those who relish getting into the great outdoors in the good old summertime! Indeed, the lake’s physical depth even changes, as its crystalline waters will rise or fall depending on the inflow from the snow-melt for each year.
Considering how much there is to see and do, Lake Jindabyne is a superlative family destination with something for everyone, kids, parents, and grand-parents alike. Soon after arrival, visitors should head for the Jindabyne visitors centre, where you can pick up free information about what’s on offer.
The Boating is Brilliant
When boat lovers first set eyes on the lake they may well swoon, for this lovely loch seems to have been designed with a boat lover’s heart in mind. Running about 15km long, and some 6km at its widest point, Jindo’s serpentine shoreline boasts many small secluded coves and islands to explore. There are close to a dozen boat ramps, including at the northwest and northeast ends of the lake. But the best concrete ramp, which can handle even the largest boat, is next to the Snowline Caravan Park.
The boating season generally runs from November to April. And if you don’t bring your own boat, no worries; all manner of water transport can be hired, from motor boats and Hobi Cats, to canoes, kayaks and even paddle boats. Kite Boarding and wakeboarding are also easy to arrange.
Jindabyne is renowned for world-class fishing. The Lake, which is an average of 15 metres deep, is well stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout, as well as Atlantic salmon. Bait & tackle shops, boat charters and professional fishing guides are all available, offering everything you need to try to bag the big ones, and the locals are happy to give free advice about where those big ones have been biting. All types of fishing are allowed on the lake itself, but a New South Wales Freshwater Anglers Licence is required; you can buy this online, or just pick one up when you arrive at any of the fishing shops in town.To discover how this lake has become one of the country’s premier fishing spots, visitors should check out the Gaden Trout Hatchery, on the nearby Thredbo River to see where future trophy fish are born and bred. All four species of fish found in the lake are bred, where visitors are invited to watch an interesting ten minute video about the hatchery’s operations and then watch wide-eyed as they see dense schools of fish being fed in the stock ponds.
Guided tours are given every day, from 10am and 2pm, and picnicking is permitted on the bucolic grounds. Important note: If you plan to fish in winter, when it's said that the fishing is best, it’s wise to book accommodation as early as possible because this is when demand is most heavy.
For bike lovers, Lake Jindabyne has become a must-do destination, simply because it has something for everyone - from fledgling go-slow bikers who want an easy but scenic experience, to mountain biking mavens, daredevils who want hills with high altitude and deeply scary down-hill thrills! Lake Jinda has them both in abundance.
Perhaps the most popular new bike route is the so-called Mill Creek Trails, which opened in 2012 and runs from the Jindabyne Dam; it’s considered one of the best in Australia. Also, the Thredbo Valley Track is close to completion - this track takes enthusiasts from Thredbo Village to Lake Crakenback Resort and beyond. Soon it will go all the way to Jindabyne!
Golf fans have not been forgotten either, and there are several courses near Jindabyne, including a full 18 holes at the scenic Coolamatong Golf Course. Or, why not try the highest golf course in Australia, at nearby Thredbo, which is 1,370 metres high and a challenge for all levels. Green fees for both courses are $15.
Picnics & Star Gazing
There are many places to enjoy an al fresco lunch, all along the lake shore, or anywhere along the three kilometre shore-line foot-path, (where roller-blades and mobility scooters are welcomed); but Banjo Paterson Park is ideal for picnics. And after dark, it’s also a perfect perch to watch for shooting stars, as the night sky is dazzling clear. And pet-lovers needn’t worry - there’s even an expansive off-lead area for dogs to run in.
Aside from all the above, the Lake Jindabyne region offers ‘Man from Snowy River’ horseback riding experiences available for all ages, white water rafting, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) adventures, and even half or full-day rock climbing and abseiling courses, with beginner, intermediate and advance level. There’s also the Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery and Kosciuszko Brewery for your favourite beverages. As we promised, Lake Jindabyne genuinely has something for virtually every type of holiday-maker.