This time of year, there’s a chill in the air that sends most of us scurrying for our Ugg boots, wooly jumpers and hot water bottles. For most this signals time to batten down the hatches, stoke the wood fired stove and get ready to ride out the long, dark months of winter before the sun graces our beaches and warms our clear blue waters. If we were bears, we’d hibernate. But, instead of burrowing under a doona and waiting for winter to pass, why not embrace the cooler climes and head to the slopes to ski, board or tube the winter blues away?
There’s no need to head to our trans-Tasman cousin to get in on the snow sports action. Sure, New Zealand’s got some killer slopes but we’ve got plenty of home grown winter wonderland’s to keep you entertained this snow season. The snowfields of New South Wales and Victoria are calling – read on!
Ski New South Wales
Fly to Thredbo from Sydney or catch a shuttle from Canberra to Thredbo in Kosciuszko National Park; you can drive from Sydney or Melbourne too, which will take you about six hours. Thredbo caters for all levels of snow sport enthusiast, from beginner through to expert. Make sure you budget for national park entry ($27 each time you enter); it may feel like a hassle but just remember it’s going towards keeping the National Park in pristine condition and preserving our national natural heritage. Thredbo’s an alpine oasis, and has everything you could possibly want for your winter wonderland getaway; with accommodation, restaurants and shopping right at your fingertips (or shall we say, doorstop?).
Hot tip: If you’re looking for a unique winter activity, try snowshoeing to the top of Mt Kosciuszko!
Touted as Australia’s most popular snow destination, Perisher Resort in South Eastern NSW is the biggest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere. Perisher offers a strong selection of beginner runs but really caters for intermediate skiers; with over 60% of runs offered at intermediate level. They also offer a variety of terrain parks (one under lights for night boarding) and over 100kms of cross-country trails. Perisher’s a six-hour drive from Sydney (via Canberra) or seven from Melbourne. Like Thredbo, you’ll need to pay $27 for a permit for each day you’re in the National Park.
Hot Tip: All entrants to the park should fit their car tyres with snow chains in order to enter ‘snow-ice’ risk sections of the park.
Visitors to Thredbo and Perisher who need to save some coin should consider staying at Jindabyne; it’s the closest town to the two ski resorts and offers a range of accommodation, restaurants and shopping for holidaymakers.
Other New South Wales Resorts
Charlotte Pass is located near Perisher and it’s the highest resort in the region. It’s completely snowbound during the season and can only be accessed with oversnow transport. It offers a snow sports adventure for all ages and stages, including some of the best terrain parks in the region. Selwyn Snowfields are located in the northern corner of the national park and are the only family-owned ski resort in the Blue Mountains. They offer a range of slopes and terrain for all levels but are definitely a great place to take the kids. Their snow school offers excellent progressive terrain training; Snowflake Snowtube Park and the Snow Play Toboggan Park make for excellent family snow day fun!
Possibly the most beautiful winter resort in Australia, Falls Creek in Victoria sits on the aptly named Mount Beauty and is just a four and a half hour drive from Melbourne (or a day’s drive from Sydney). Falls Creek is a family friendly resort, offering heaps of activities for the kiddies to keep them busy in the snow. Head to the Snow Play park, go snow tubing, tobogganing, snow biking or snowshoeing; you can even play a game of bocce on the snow! Accommodation is available on mountain and off mountain; off mountain accommodation is located in Bogong Village (15 – 25 minute drive from Falls Creek) or in Mt Beauty/Tawonga South (approximately 40 minutes’ drive from the ski fields).
Located in the heart of the Australian Alps National Park, Mount Hotham is Victoria’s highest alpine village. Ten kilometres from Hotham is Dinner Plain, a quaint snow covered alpine village, perfect for a weekend winter getaway. Hotham offers slopes suited to beginners through to expert; unlike many of the other Australian resorts, 40% of Hotham’s runs cater to advanced skiers/riders. They have over 35 kilometres of cross-country ski trails and cross-country access is free. They also have four snowboard/terrain parks, although access to them is weather dependant. Hotham boasts one of the longest snow seasons in Australia and has a reputation for steep pistes and long runs.
Just three hours from Melbourne, Mount Buller is popular with the Melbourne weekend crowd. It’s also renowned for being the powder capital of Australia; with over 300 hectares of skiable terrain! There are three terrain parks, two toboggan parks and ski-in ski-out accommodation. The seasons starts on the June long weekend and runs through October (weather permitting).
Whether you’re hitting the slopes in New South Wales or Victoria, you’ll need a car to get you there; check out one of Europcar’s car hire deals that will have you enjoying your winter wonderland holiday in no time. Happy Driving!