Saturday, 27 April 2013

Destination: Cooma, NSW Snowy Mountains

Cooma Visitors Centre
As a place to live, Cooma is the perfect balance between urban and rural. It is busy during the winter ski season and peaceful during the summer. It has four beautifully distinct seasons which is rare in some parts of Australia. And it is within an hour and a half of the ski fields, the south coast and Canberra.

It also offers visitors a place to stretch their legs after a long run down the highway. But rather than seeing Cooma as just a fifteen minute stop, here are some of the things which are worth hanging around either a few hours or even a few nights for. I have added some useful links at the bottom of this post. Many of Cooma's restaurants are reviewed separately on this blog.

The Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre - this FREE attraction explains the history of the Snowy Hydro Scheme as well as explaining how Hydro electricity works and some information on the local area. There is a short video presentation as well as hands on exhibits, a coffee shop and gift shop. It was interesting and would be a great little stop if you have school aged kids.
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma 
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma
Snowy Hydro Visitor Centre, Cooma
Cooma Visitors Information Centre - the centre has loads of information on where to stay, maps, local attractions, weather and road condition advice, exhibits and also a gift shop. 
Cooma Visitor Centre
Cooma Markets: Held on the third Sunday of each month, the market is a great way to stop, revive and survive with food stalls as well as rides for the kids and plenty of local produce. The market is often smaller in winter but still worth a look.

Cooma shopping and restaurant precinct - the Sharp Street is the main shopping street but divert off into Vale street to find some really interesting shops including Kettle and Seed (Snowy Mountains Coffee) and Moontree which sells local and organic produce. For the fashionistas, Birdsnest is on the edge of town - many would know their online site but why not pop in and have a look at the shopfront - it is really creating a buzz in a previously quiet part of town - the Royal Hotel is just across the road so a good place for the non-shoppers to relax while they wait.

Mt Gladstone Lookout and Miss Heidi's Teahouse: The lookout provides sweeping views to the alps. Miss Heidi's Teahouse is an experience which is a little pricey but well worth it if you want to try some authentic Austrian food in a building which was made by the original Snowy Hydro workers to remind them of home. Brochures explaining the history available on-site.

Cooma's History - there are information boards throughout the town centre explaining the history of the area - the Christ Church Maneroo (circa 1845 - just off Church Road, Cooma)is quaint and peaceful, the Courthouse is impressive and the (still functioning) gaol offers tours. The Alpine Hotel is an art deco building. Lambie Street (once the original main street) has some amazing historic homes.
Christ Church Maneroo (1845) Cooma
Cooma Courthouse
Cooma History Walk sign
Southern Cloud Memorial - for the aviation buffs, there is a small memorial including pieces from the Southern Cloud wreck.
Southern Cloud Memorial, Cooma
Centennial Park - the Avenue of Flags, the bicentenary mosaics and the model of the snowy mountains are all found here along with a statue of the man from Snowy River.

Kosciuszko monument, Cooma
Useful links:
Cooma Visitor Centre
Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre
Cooma Community Organisations
Cooma map
Urbanspoon - Cooma restaurant reviews
Cooma Restaurants