So, as my snow-buddy Justin orders our first round of drinks, followed by Jägermeister chasers – hey, I didn’t say we were original – we quickly feel like locals. We could get used to this kind of life. We toast each other and relay stories to our new friends of our boarding adventures. Like getting lost because one of us couldn’t tell our left from right or, more crucially, our blue run from our black run. Or boasting about going from Snow White to Shaun White after just one lesson. Yeah, you’ve heard that one before.
Then, as the shots continue to flow, we’re practically buying ski gear online and signing up to be Thredbo life members. Luckily, the tall tales are interrupted by another après-ski tradition: drinking games. A few of the really enthused take the stage, stripping off and drinking in representation of their respective countries.
This, of course, soon leads to another, rather similar tradition: hooking up. Watching back-to-back episodes of Home and Away would be less predictable. But out of respect to the country of Germany and my snow-buddy, Justin, what happens in Thredbo stays in Thredbo.
The hangover layover
Naturally, day two of a ski weekend is a little different from day one. At 7am, we’re falling into damp boots and mentally ripping up the life-time memberships we signed last night.
After heading into the dining hall, past several frosty vomit patches, we devour a hot breakfast in anticipation of the day ahead. Unlike the previous evening, the faces around me are pale and sheepish. Well, apart from the few who arrive late, clearly still drunk.
Returning to Thredbo, the fresh air and the pull of the powder slaps the hangover away. Partially, anyway. The snow is slushier than the first day, but we’re secretly happy for Mother Nature to be playing hangover nurse, cushioning our falls today. Heading higher to test out our new-found confidence, we try out some ‘air-time’ on the jumps. In one full swoop, all confidence is lost as I get too much speed and come crumbling down.
After a quick pit stop at the high-altitude cafe, where we clumsily unravel our gloves and jackets simply to grasp a hot chocolate, we’re on our way again. The afternoon snowboarding session is a mixture of fatigue, memories regurgitating from the night before, and the sadness of knowing all good things must come to an end.
With each run potentially our last, limits are pushed, tricks are attempted and new manoeuvres are mastered – in our minds, anyway. It’s an unbelievable feeling, considering most hangovers of this scale are spent on the sofa, not the slopes.
From the moment we were picked up on Friday afternoon and opted for the “party bus”, the trip was seamless. Meals, accommodation and gear were all taken care of.
Before we leave, a group gathers to watch a snowboarder from our tour who has been dared to complete a nudie run. We are just in time to witness him sailing down the final slope, not quite naked, but naked enough. It’s a fitting ending to a trip that’s all about the package.
OzSnow do weekend road trips from $245 which includes transport, accommodation at the Snowy Mountain Resort, meals, park fees. See: ozsnowadventures.com.au
Are You Ready for Winter? 5 Great Places to Ski in Australia
Few people think of our continent as being a great place to ski, but there are some pretty legendary Aussie destinations for skiing. If you plan to hit the slopes, there are a few places that you absolutely cannot miss, both in the mainland and in Tasmania. Here are the five best places to ski:
When searching for accommodation near a ski destination, you would do well to consider Thredbo. The New South Wales ski slopes are perfect for just about anyone, and you can find beautiful hotels and luxury cabins for pretty much any budget.
If your idea of a ski trip includes plenty of dancing, drinking and partying off the slopes, Thredbo is perfect for you. The slopes are varied, though they’re not too tough. You’ll be able to show off your skiing skills to your friends, but the purpose of this resort is to have fun all day and all night long — on and off the slopes.
For those who come to New South Wales just to ski, the Perisher resort is definitely the premier destination. The Perisher slope has some of the toughest runs in the country, but the smooth, powdery snow makes slicing down the hill a real pleasure.
The Blue Cow and Smigging Holes Resorts are also excellent, but the Perisher is for serious skiers. Skiers can test their skills at cross-country skiing just in front of the resort. There is a school for newbies to learn how to ski properly, and the ski slopes spread out seemingly endlessly. If skiing is your passion, this is the place for you.
Falls Creek, VIC
Falls Creek is the largest ski resort in Victoria, and it is perfect for skiers and snowboarders alike. There are activities taking place 24 hours a day, including skiing down some of the slickest slopes in the country. There are 65 kilometres of trails that cross-country skiers can explore, and the rails and jumps spread throughout the park will be punishing for even the best snowboarders and skiers.
There 15 lifts heading up the mountain and the nearly 100 runs provide snow sport enthusiasts of all experience levels the chance to test their mettle. There are more than 450 hectares of skiable terrain, most of which is designed for intermediate skiers. There are a few beginner runs, but nearly a quarter of the slopes are for advanced skiers.
Mt Hotham, VIC
Mount Hotham, located in Victoria, is the site of the Hotham Resort, one of the country’s premier ski destinations. The ski village sits atop a mountain ridge, providing a fantastic view of the countryside below. There is a school for beginning skiers and snowboarders, activities 24 hours a day, dog sled races, snowmobile rides for kids, and more slopes than you’ll be able to ski during your stay.
There are 13 lifts leading up to more than 80 runs, and the slopes are made for intermediate and advanced skiers. Beginners will have their fill and more advanced skiers looking for a thrill will be aptly satisfied as well.
Mt Mawson, TAS
Tasmania is home to many beautiful creatures and gorgeous terrain, but it is also the home of the Mt. Mawson ski resort in the Mount Field National Park. The ski resort is less than a two hours’ drive from Hobart City, but the slopes are well over 1 kilometre above sea level. Snow falls on the slopes regularly, and the fresh snow is perfect for slicing and stunts.
There are a few runs made for beginners, but the rest are for more advanced skiers. There are cross-country skiing opportunities for the whole family, and there is plenty for kids to do at this ski resort. If you want to escape from the hum-drum of life back home on the mainland, skiing in Tasmania is the way to go.
About the Author: As a lifetime skiing enthusiast, Bill Bettler loves to visit the many slopes around Australia. He lives in New South Wales which makes him partial to his local slopes, but he’ll try any slope at least once!
TNT staff pick, by Rory Platt:
Slewyn Snowfield NSW: Cheap and cheerful
Selwyn Snowfields are known as being a family-friendly ski resort, which makes it perfect if you’re a total amateur on the white stuff. Selwyn is found in the Kosciuszko National Park, but far from the likes of Thredbo and Perisher. It has only two expert trails, with the vast majority being suitable for beginner to intermediate snow bunnies.
Despite its small size, Selwyn has about 80 per cent of the resort covered by snowmaking facilities so when nature lets you down you’ll still have something to slide on. Further evidence to Selwyn’s family-friendly attitude is the grooming procedure at the resort, which is done by the director, Bob Heatley, his wife and son-in-law every day. If downhill skiing or snowboarding lacks the thrills of busting out tricks then you can hit up Selwyn’s terrain parks for just $25 a day instead.
Selwyn’s a great resort if you’re just getting into snow sports, with great instructors and the perfect trails to progress gently. If your skills are limited this is just the place to find your snow legs, save the bigger resorts till next year. Your wallet will thank you.
Where to stay: Bunkhouse Motel, $40 (40mins from slopes)
How much: Lift pass daily $82, five-day pass $332
Photos: Perisher, Thredbo, Destination NSW