Sun, sea and sand, yes, but this here country is little known for its snow. However there’s a surprisingly big ski and boarding scene come the winter months, and there have been reports of healthy doses of fresh snow during the 2015 season opening.
Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the slopes will suit, and there’s a huge social side to enjoy also. As with everything in this country, the day-time activity comes with a side of heavy night-time drinking, so be prepared to shake off that hangover like Taylor Swift would a hater, and get back to face-planting the white stuff. Here, we’ve listed the top spots to do the above, as well as an insightful piece from one of our journalists who enjoyed the nightlife a little bit too much…
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 are 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.
Thredbo, NSW – iStock
The New South Wales ski slopes are perfect for just about anyone, and 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.
Try your luck at the Snowy Mountains Backpackers in Jindabyne for your cheapest accommodation option. In peak season they charge $50 per bed for a six, eight or 10 person dorm during the week and an extra $5 on weekends. If you’d like to be a little closer to the action there’s always Thredbo YHA, located right in Thredbo Village. It’s a bit steep at $86 per bed midweek, but since you’re at the foot of the slopes you can spend more time skiing and less time driving back and forth to Jindabyne.
Day lift pass costs $115. Rental from $70. Cheaper multiple day packages available.
Perisher, NSW – iStock
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.
Skiers can test their skills at cross-country skiing, and the ski slopes spread out seemingly endlessly. If skiing is your passion, this is the place for you.
Day lift pass costs $108. Rental from $100. Cheaper multipleday packages available.
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 beginner 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.
Two-day lift pass costs $217. Rental from $60 per day. Cheaper multiple day packages available.
Selwyn Snowfield – Wikimedia Commons
Selwyn Snowfield, NSW
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.
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 snowsports, 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.
Day lift pass costs $75. Rental from $41 per day. Cheaper multiple day packages available.
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-hour drive from Hobart City, but the slopes are well over a kilometre above sea level.
Snow falls on the slopes regularly, and the fresh powder 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-countryskiing 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.
Day lift pass costs $30.
Oz Trip – Our Experience
Alex Harmon heads for Thredbo with OzSnow Adventures and finds that snow is the perfect hangover cure… which is lucky as she needs a morning-after miracle.
Partying in Jindabyne, Thredbo’s neighbourly ski town, is as much a part of the ski package as falling on your arse or falling in love with a European ski instructor. Actually, all three go hand-in-hand. 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 to 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.
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 fell 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.
Where to Party
In Jindy, mingle with the backpackers over at Snowy Valley Resort. There’s usually a band on Saturday nights and happy hour between 8pm and 9pm. Alternatively the Lake Jindabyne Hotel is a pretty good bet for getting your drink on.
Up on the slopes of Thredbo you should pay a visit to the Schuss Bar, where there’s live music aplenty and a mean Canadian whiskey with added cinnamon known as the Fireball. They’re dead set to take back the title of ‘Best Live Music in the Alpine’, so keep an eye and ear out for some semi/demi-celebrities gracing the stage.
Over at Perisher, The Overflow Bar is the venue of choice for the locals. It’s nice and casual – pool tables, darts and live music too. Enter the pool competition on Tuesdays if you fancy yourself as a balls man/lady. You’ll find it in The Man From Snowy River Hotel in Perisher Valley.
OzSnow do weekend road trips from Sydney from $249 which includes transport, accommodation and meals.