Road Conditions and Snow Chains
The Alpine Way is the gateway to Thredbo. It’s one of the most beautiful and picturesque drives in Australia, but it can also be hazardous. Here are some of our tips to make sure you’re prepared to arrive safely and on time.
Before you hit the road, check Live Traffic NSW for real-time road updates.
Thredbo Awaits! Is Your Car Ready?
When Was Your Last Service? Do You Need Another One?
As the Alpine Way can feature a variety of conditions, it’s worth checking or asking your mechanic to check the tyres, battery, brakes, cooling system, engine, windscreen wipers and washers, electrical system (particularly the alternator), heater/demister and making sure they are in working order.
Does your Vehicle Need Anti-Freeze?
Although most modern cars use coolant with wide temperature capabilities, older cars may need anti-freeze in your radiator or a special coolant for low temperatures. If you are unsure, ask your mechanic and they will point you in the right direction.
If you do need anti-freeze, remember to match the amount to the capacity of the cooling system. Adding the wrong amount can cause significant damage and issues to your engine.
Do You Have the Right Fuel?
Diesel vehicles require a special type of fuel. Alpine mix diesel can be purchased from service stations in Cooma or Jindabyne. You can also do it at home by adding an alpine diesel additive which will stop your fuel from freezing. Dual fuel vehicles (LPG/petrol) should switch to petrol before entering alpine areas.
Do You Need Snow Chains?
Snow chains are a helpful device used in snowy conditions to gain extra traction on the road. All 2-wheel drive (2WD) vehicles entering Kosciuszko National Park between the June and October long weekends must carry snow chains.
Although 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles don’t require chains, we still recommend carrying them. They may be required in the event of extreme weather conditions. Vehicles fitted with ‘winter tyres’ are not required to fit chains.
Where Can You Get Snow Chains?
You can hire or buy snow chains at a range of different stores on your way to Thredbo, such as ski & snowboard hire stores and service stations. You will find these stores in Cooma, Berridale and Jindabyne. They are also stocked at the BP in Thredbo if you forget them along the way, but we would highly recommend having them before you reach the National Park.
When hiring or purchasing snow chains, make sure the shop attendant shows you how to fit them correctly and which chains are best suited to your vehicle. Please ensure you are comfortable with fitting chains to your vehicle as it can be difficult fitting them for the first time in the middle of a blizzard.
A waterproof blanket or groundsheet is also useful to protect you from the road and ice/snow when you fit the chains – you will need to lie down or get on your knees to fit them.
Tips for Using Your Chains
There are plenty of chain bays on the Alpine Way when travelling to and from Thredbo. These are the best areas to fit chains. Pull into the bays when conditions become hazardous so you can safely put snow chains on your vehicle.
If you need to fit your snow chains on before or after the chain bay, please be safe in choosing a straight stretch of road where you are visible to other drivers and there is enough room to safely park and fit the chains.
Make sure the chains are not left loose. They can do a lot of damage to your car if not properly fastened.
Once fitted, it is recommended that cars with radial tyres don’t travel faster than 40 km/h. Stop and check the tension of the chains after driving about 200 metres. Remove the chains in a safe area once conditions allow.
Follow Signage Directions
Please take note of signs advising you to fit snow chains as well as wildlife warnings.
Snow poles line the road south of Thredbo. They are painted orange and are tall enough for drivers to get their bearings in white-out conditions. If you can’t see the edge of the road or the next snow pole – stop your car in a safe location off the road, put your hazard lights on and wait for a break in the weather.
It’s important you only park in marked parking areas and abide by the correct hours on display.
If snowfalls are predicted during your stay, once arrived in Thredbo we recommend fitting your chains when you park. It’s easier to do this straight away, rather than once conditions deteriorate.
Unless you’re parking for a short time, it’s a good idea to lift the wipers off your windscreen so they won’t stick to the glass.
Starting Your Car
Warm your car’s engine for a few minutes before driving off. Clear all glass and mirrors of ice using a plastic ice scraper or something similar before you start driving. You can also use lukewarm water to clear ice but don’t use your windscreen washers – they’ll just make it worse.
To demist the inside of the windows, use the car’s heater and fan as well as the air conditioner.
If it has snowed during your stay, remember to clear ALL snow off your car before driving as it may hinder other drivers as it falls off on your way home.
Go Above and Beyond!
There are a couple of essential items that will enhance your driving experience to the mountains. For mornings with heavy frost and snow, we recommend a plastic scraper to remove ice from your windscreen. These can be purchased at a range of stores in the local area. We also recommend a first aid kit, and if you are travelling outside of service hours or entering from Thredbo from the south you may want to pack an emergency kit that includes a torch, blanket, tow rope, spade, wheel chocks.
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