Kiandra's Heritage Trail
The first Kiandra Courthouse was built in 1860 as part of the Police Commissioner's Camp. By the 1870s the building was being used as a barn. The second Court House, which was also the local lockup and the police headquarters, was completed in 1890. It was built from local basalt and is a typical country town court house designed by the Colonial Architect, James Barnet. Most of the court cases were either about drunkenness or were disputes about gold claims and water rights. The Court House closed in 1937 and within a few years it had become the Kiandra Chalet. The owner encouraged winter visitors by operating a ski rope tow. For many years the Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club held a club license at the chalet. The Chalet enjoyed great popularity during the construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme but it declined and was closed in 1973. It is now a depot for the Department of Main Roads.
The most interesting thing about Kiandra at the moment is a recently established Heritage Trail. This trail is remarkably simple. Starting at the Court House the visitor is led through the marshy grasslands to the site of the Church of the Ascension, the Post & Telegraph Office, Matthew's Cottage (which is still standing), the Alpine Hotel, the School of Arts, Yan's Store (now a ruin), the Kiandra Hotel, the Teacher's Residence, the Dance Hall, the School, the Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club and the Wolgal Club. The walk is pleasant and easy and the plaques are detailed and informative. It is a rare opportunity to imagine what life was like in Kiandra during those heady days in 1860 when the area seemed to be running with gold. The trail stops at the locations of buildings and also passes water races, mullock heaps and other physical remains of the gold rush.
New Chum Hill
On the road to Mt Selwyn visitors pass the scars on New Chum Hill which recall the activity which characterised this find and subsequently led to fairly elaborate sluicing equipment being brought in. Less than half a kilometre from the Snowy Mountains Highway (or, for those of an active disposition, at the end of the Kiandra Walk) is a small park. The story attached to this area is typical of the luck involved on a gold field. 'Early in the gold rush some new chums arrived at the field. Asking other miners about good spots to try they were jokingly directed to a most unlikely location. Their tunnels soon struck rich deposits (so much for expertise on the goldfields) and New Chum Hill became the site of intensive mining. The gold had been deposited in a thick clay matrix by an ancient stream and was best removed by sluicing. To provide water for this operation several groups of miners built a network of races from Three Mile Dam.
'A strong jet of water was used to undermine the hillside and wash the loose soil and gravel into tail races up to 500 metres long. Stones paving these races trapped the gold bearing sediments. A removable bottom on the race allowed this material to be collected easily and processed. This area of the goldfields kept operating until the 1890s. At one time, during a period of only 12 weeks, they extracted ?15 000 worth of gold.'
Mt Selwyn Snowfields
7 km from Kiandra, off the road to Cabramurra, are the Mt Selwyn Snowfields, reaching a peak elevation of 1614 metres. Alpine and cross-country skiing, snow-showing, snowboarding, tobogganing (with Australia's only tobogan tow) and snow-tubing are available in winter. Accommodation and ski packages are available. There are 45 km of ski trails ranging from 2.5 to 15 km and there is a snow sports school.
The fields cover 45 hectares and there are 12 lifts with a capacity of 9,500 per hour which operate from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. The fields are divided into 40%designated 'easiest,' 48% 'more difficult,' and 12% 'most difficult.' An artificial snowmaking system covers 80% of the terrain.
There is day parking, ski and clothing hire, catering, a children's centre, a ski patrol, a retail shop, ticket sales, a public phone, toilets and information. For further data, snow reports etc, see Selwynsnow.com.au.
Three Mile Dam
Three Mile Dam, located a few kilometres along the Cabramurra Road and just past the turnoff to Mount Selwyn, was built by the Chinese in 1882 to provide water for the sluicing operations at New Chum Hill. There is a walk (it is clearly marked on a map a few hundred metres off the road past the dam) which includes the old races and shows clearly how the water flowed from the dam to the goldfields.
Historic Kiandra, published by the Cooma Monaro Historical Society in 1959 and still available, is an outstanding account of the history of the area. It includes lots of interesting contemporary accounts of Kiandra in its brief heyday.
Accommodation and Eating
There are no eating facilities or accommodation available at Kiandra which is now a ghost town. Nearest accommodation is at Talbingo, Adaminaby and Tumut.