This is a guest post.
Try something a little different
Australia might not be the first place that springs to mind when looking for a skiing holiday. It tends to conjure up images of desert landscape, arid rocky terrain and sun drenched golden beaches, but Australia also has stunning, snow-capped mountain ranges. In fact, skiing is the most popular winter activity in the sports-mad country.
If you’re a snow enthusiast, why not try something completely different from Europe or the USA? If you go Down-Under you’ll receive a warm welcome on the slopes.
Some facts about the Australia Alps
- Because it rarely snows below 1,000m in Australia, most of the ski resorts are perched at the top of mountains, which means fantastic views.
- The mountains in Australia are old; some minerals in the rocks have been found to be over three billion years old.
- The age of the landscape and the diversity of the rocks means that unlike other alpine regions, the Aussie Alps have fertile soil. This allows a wide range of plants, animals and ecosystems to thrive.
- The Alps encompass 16 national parks and reserves, and these are home to over 40 species of native mammals, 200 bird species and 30 reptile species, many of which are endangered and found nowhere else on the planet.
Where and when to go
Skiing takes place from June until October in two states of Australia. The resorts of Perisher and Thredbo are in New South Wales (NSW), close to Sydney, and Falls Creek, Mt. Hotham and Mt. Buller are in Victoria (Vic), close to Melbourne.
Perisher is the biggest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the picturesque Kosciuszko National Park, the popular resort is about a two and a half hour drive from Canberra or a six hour drive from Sydney. You can also fly in to Cooma and get a short transfer.
Perisher has seven mountain peaks offering steep and challenging runs for experienced skiers and snowboarders, as well as a terrain equally suited to beginners. The cross country skiing amongst the eucalyptus trees is excellent with 100km of marked trails suitable for all abilities.
The area is made up of four resorts (Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega) and tickets allow you access to all four on the one pass. Accommodation is in hotels and lodges, and there are a number of bars and restaurants where you can party the night away and enjoy fine cuisine.
Events to look out for at Perisher:
Check out the Slopestyle event for snowboarders & skiers at the PlayStation Slopestyle Park, Front Valley on 20 July 2013.
Set in the same national park as Perisher, Thredbo is a lively village set around the highest peak in Australia: Mt. Kosciusko. Due to its altitude (1365m) the resort doesn’t always retain snow on the lower half of the mountain, so a huge investment has been made into cutting edge snow-making technology to maintain perfect coverage.
With over 50 ski runs and a three colour grading system (green for beginners, blue for intermediate and black diamond for advanced) it caters for all abilities. The resort is also home to the Crackenback Supertrail, the longest run in Australia. The ungroomed Funnel Web is a notorious run that is reserved for the brave, thanks to its near-vertical drops.
The resort has ample bars and restaurants and even a nightclub, so is well suited for skiers looking to enjoy the social side of skiing. There is a wide range of accommodation including hotels, lodges, hostels and apartments, so there is something to suit all budgets.
Events to look out for at Thredbo:
The winter opening celebrations take place on the weekend of 8 – 10 June 2013 and include fireworks, parades and parties.
On 13 July 2013 check out the tricks at the Rip Curl Throwdown, where the best skiers and boarders in the country can slide, jib and fly over a jump that is created especially for the event.
Falls Creek, Vic
This well designed ski resort has 27 beginner runs, 43 intermediate and 30 aimed at experienced skiers. There is also an extensive network of excellent, well-groomed cross country trails.
Free shuttle buses operate around the village, although there is mostly ski in and out access when conditions are suitable, making it easy to get to the slopes.
There are a number of bars, restaurants and clubs in the resort, so there is plenty of fun to be had off the slopes.
Falls Creek is a six and a half hour drive from Canberra, a five hour drive from Melbourne or a two hour drive from Albury airport.
Accommodation ranges from the luxury end through to the traditional lodges and apartments, so there is plenty of choice.
Events to look out for at Falls Creek:
On 2 – 3 August 2013 the Falls Creek Sled Dog Classic takes place. This annual sled race takes place at night in the heart of the alpine village. It’s an exciting chance to see some of Australia’s finest mushers and their hounds in action, battling it out against each other and the elements in the moonlight.
Dinner Plain and Mt. Hotham, Vic
Mt. Hotham is a sprawling resort famous for its steep pistes. Dinner Plain is a pretty village about 20 minutes down the road. Both resorts offer fantastic cross country skiing opportunities on well-designed and well-groomed trails. With excellent walk-on beginners’ slopes, plenty of steep valley runs for the experts and everything in between, this is a great base for your skiing holiday.
There are restaurants, bars, cafes, supermarkets and a spa all close to hand, so you will be well catered for. There is also a wide range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
Mt. Hotham prides itself on being Australia’s most accessible resort, as you can fly direct to Hotham Airport or you can drive from Melbourne in around 4.5 hours.
Events to look out for at Mt. Hotham:
On 10 August 2013 check out the legendary Hot-Ham Banked Slalom. This snowboard event involves competitors racing against the clock down Gun Barrel for the fastest time.
From the 25 – 28 August 2013, check out the FIS ANC Snowboard-X presented by Bollé. See the professionals compete for the FIS ANC SBX Championship.
Mt. Buller, Vic
Just a three hour drive from Melbourne, this resort is so accessible that you can be on the slopes shortly after landing in Australia.
The fantastic new lift system gives access to over 300 hectares of terrain, with runs to suit all abilities.
The picturesque village offers some ski in, ski out accommodation (the rest is served by a shuttle bus) and plenty of bars, restaurants and nightlife options to keep you busy. If you need to unwind off the slopes the resort is home to the highest day spa in the country, and there is also a cinema, shops and rock climbing to keep you entertained.
Events at Mt. Buller:
Check out the Mt. Buller website for details of events as the winter season approaches.
Don’t just book the same old ski holiday this year. Surround yourself with ancient geology, unique wildlife and friendly locals in the Australian Alps for an outdoor adventure to remember.
: : :
Karen Bleakley gave up her job to take a grown up gap year with her husband five years ago. She’s now a freelance travel writer, parent blogger and social media geek. She’s hoping to relocate from the UK to Australia in the not too distant future so her family can enjoy a life in the sun, on the surf and on the slopes.