Australia: Through The Snow Gums On Boards -
The alpine regions of Australia are found mainly in the two states of New South Wales and Victoria. There’s a beauty to skiing the snow gums of Australia knowing you won’t find these eucalyptus trees on any other ski field in the world.
Think snow and you don’t automatically think Australia, yet the first non-European to win a World Cup was an Australian, Malcolm Milne in 1969. World champion snowboarder, Torah Bright, heralds from these parts, so do Winter Olympic medalists Jacqui Cooper, Kirstie Marshall, Zali Stegell, and Alissa Camplin.
You’ll find the Kosciusko National Park Six hours drive south of Sydney. Thredbo, Perisher, and Charlotte Pass are found within this region. Thredbo resort’s 480 hectares and 672 metres of vertical are serviced by a swanky village with bars and restaurants as well as eleven ski in ski out restaurants on the mountain. It’s an old school ski village with all the modern conveniences and it's considered the elite mountain of Australia.
Perisher Blue is the largest ski resort in Australia and New Zealand with almost 1500 hectares of skiable terrain. The resort has over 50 lifts, which can mean a fair bit of traversing, but it’s very family friendly with a plethora of intermediate terrain. The resort is almost entirely ski in, ski out and is also known for it’s super pipe and terrain parks.
Nearby sits Charlotte Pass, the country’s highest ski resort, a small ski area accessible by snow cat from Perisher Blue. It’s quaint, old fashioned, and lots of fun for families. Similarly, Selwyn Snowfields, also close by, is a mere 45 hectares, but a great place to learn to ski with few crowds and mainly beginner and intermediate terrain.
Further south in Victoria sits Mt. Hotham and Falls Creek, owned by the same company and linked by a helicopter ride. Falls Creek is the prettiest alpine village in the country, pedestrian only, and completely ski in, ski out. The resort has 28 bars and restaurants and is an easy mountain perfect for intermediate skiers. Falls Creek terrain park and pipe consistently wins awards and hosts various high profile snowboard events throughout the season.
Hotham village sits on the top of the mountain, meaning skiing down to the first lift of the day. The terrain here is steeper than Falls Creek with something for all levels and over 300 hectares of terrain. Hotham’s après scene is quite fractured with a shuttle bus between Hotham Central and the General Store, which is the key party destination. Dinner Plain is 15 minutes down the road with some gourmet dining options and an inspired spa.
Melbournites frequent Mt. Buller, a mere three-hour drive from Melbourne. The mountain is known for it’s social scene, ski in, ski out chalets, ski clubs and alpine academy. There’s 25 lifts and 260 hectares with an even mix of terrain across all standards and some good advanced terrain to challenge the thighs. The resort can get quite crowded on weekends, but overall it’s an excellent family option close to a capital city.
Mt. Baw Baw is even closer to Melbourne, 160 kilometres east of the city. There are 30 hectares of beginner and intermediate fun with about 10 percent dedicated to the advanced skier.
If you’re into cross-country, then Mt. Stirling provides 60 kilometres of groomed trails. Don’t expect ski lifts or resort accommodation as skiers stay at nearby Mansfield or can camp on the grounds. The resort is a 30 minute drive from Mt. Buller, so it’s possible to do a day trip as part of a week’s holiday.
Australia’s snow fields provide a unique ski and snowboard experience. The longest run in Australia and New Zealand is Thredbo’s 5.9kilometre Super Trail and the largest resort across both regions is Perisher.