An Alpine Wonderland Awaits
Australia may not be known worldwide for the snow, but during the winter months, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania have some of the most magical ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. You may be thinking New Zealand’s Queenstown and Cardrona are the places to go! But, that is not always the case.
Here we will explore your options for a much-needed winter vacation and all the ins and outs of the best 3 ski resorts that Australia has to offer!
First of course, we will begin with the resort which boasts the longest ski run in the country, Thredbo Alpine Resort. Located in the high reaches of the Kosciuszko National Park, renowned for being home to the tallest mountain in Australia. It is here you will find this quaint ski resort and thriving village life. Past the plethora of rolling snowy mountains and about a forty-five-minute drive from the popular winter town of Jindabyne, Thredbo offers a range of outdoor activities and adventure opportunities on top of the obvious snow sports sector.
Australia’s Highest Peak Worth Discovering
Mt Kosciuszko is the ‘mother-of-all mountains’ reaching a height of 2,228m in elevation making it a quarter the height of Mt Everest, and holder of the prestigious title of tallest mountain in Australia. But in Thredbo, you can scale the majestic giant, which is especially rewarding in the early mornings, when the sunrises over the mountain range. It is particularly spectacular from the ‘Bell’, the highest point and most photographed landmark in Thredbo. It is a short hike from the Kosciuszko Express chairlift and at the top of the longest run in Australia.
The scenic chairlift operates year-round so that enthusiast mountain bikers and hikers are able to experience breath taking views of the surrounding mountains and valley of the Kosciuszko National Park in the warmer months. A one way ride takes 15 minutes and rises 560 vertical metres above one of Australia’s most beautiful national parks.
Thredbo Ski Runs and Trails
The Village Trail Run begins here and is of moderate difficulty and is also one of the Big 5 longest ski runs in Australia. You may also wish to partake in one of the more difficult runs like the Crackenback from the resort. All of the Big 5 can be accessed from the ski lifts at the Valley Terminal.
The Funnel Web Run is steep and will take you directly down to the base of the chairlift so you can travel up and down Mt Kosciuszko easily until you are ready for lunch at one of the many Thredbo bars and ski village restaurants in the area.
You have the option of quick meals at the Thredbo cafes around the base of the chairlifts or a lovely sit-down meal at the Local Bar, a favourite among the staff and guests alike. Here you can get a refreshing Kosciuszko craft beer alongside a well-deserved hot meal. Live entertainment is offered regularly during the winter season at many of the bars such as Thredbo Alpine Hotel Poolside Bar and Lounge Bar. You would be hard-pressed to find better entertainment elsewhere with all of the live music and activities provided almost nightly at this booming resort.
Activities For All The Family
There is truly something for everyone here. From kid’s club, where your children can learn or master their skiing and snowboarding to fireworks displays at night. From a scenic chairlift ride to snowshoeing (snow walking) up the tallest mountain in the country. They cater to skiers of all ability levels and runs are available for everyone to enjoy and improve. They are even part of the Mountain Collective Pass. Purchasing this pass will allow you discounted rates and free days included in your ski passes at Thredbo and other famous ski resorts around the world, such as Banff and Sunshine in Canada and Niseko United in Japan.
Perisher Valley is also in New South Wales and close to Thredbo, but they offer many different things that Thredbo does not. It may not have the longest ski run in the country, nor the tallest mountain, but they do have other excellent amenities including 47 chairlifts that make them a unique choice. Perisher boasts over one hectare of skiable terrain across four resorts areas – Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega. This makes Perisher the largest resort in the southern hemisphere.
One big standout at Perisher is the Skitube. Now, as many first-time tourists to Perisher Valley often think the Skitube is a kind of rubber doughnut thing that the kids use to sled down the slopes. Not so!
The Skitube Alpine Railway is a swiss designed, Australian standard gauge electric rack railway in the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. This innovative train ride provides passengers with access to the snowfields at Perisher Valley and Blue Cow Mountain. Located at Bullocks Flat on the Alpine Way, the Skitube travels through the Ramshead range, into the National Park then onto Perisher Valley.
During the Skitube 8.5km route, passengers are taken through Australia’s longest transport tunnel which is 6.3km long, and travel to the depths of 550m underground. The Skitube terminal at Bullocks Flat is outside Kosciuszko National Park and 20kms from Jindabyne. Passengers can park for free, day and overnight at Bullocks Flat.
Once arriving at Perisher, travel between Perisher and Blue Cow is also free with any valid lift ticket. A Skitube pass will give you access to Kosciuszko National Park and there are savings to be made by purchasing a combined ‘Skitube Train and Lift’ ticket.
You can of course drive all the way to the bottom snowfield, but the addition of the Skitube ticket to your lift pass is less expensive than entry. If you are travelling with a family, it may not be the cheapest option to add a Skitube ticket to all your lift passes. But if you travel past this bottom carpark be prepared to get down and dirty in the snow to put chains on your tyres because it can get very icy at this junction.
Skitube Connecting You to Other Ski Resorts
The Skitube will also grant you easy access to the three levels, so to speak, of the Perisher Valley ski resorts. Continuing from Perisher Valley, Blue Cow is perfect for beginners and is one of the first stops on the train after you leave the lower carpark. With gentle slopes, it allows for progression from beginner to a more confident skier. There are two remaining stops on the train before it turns around, both suitable for more advanced skiers at Smiggin Holes and Guthega. All of these areas have accommodation available on snow, as well as excellent restaurants and bars just one slope away!
The Perisher Skitube also gives access to areas such as the less well-known Charlottes Pass, which lies between the Thredbo and Perisher ski resorts. There are many great ski spots around the area for the avid skiers and you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity. Each location gives its own unique atmosphere and views that are incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Who knew such amazing ski areas could be found in the midst of Australia!
Perisher Valley Epic Ski Pass
The Epic Australia Pass purchased from Perisher Valley grants you access all season for those avid skiers and snowboarders out there. It is much more than just a ski pass to this one location. Similar to the Mountain Collective Pass at Thredbo, The Epic Pass Club allows you discounted access to many amazing ski resorts around the world. For all the global travellers, this is a great offer and certainly one that should be utilised if you love snow sports. These include Hakuba Valley and Rusutsu in Japan, Breckenridge in the US and more.
Finally, the last stop on the exploration of a few of the best ski resorts in the country is nearby in Victoria. We divert to the more southern stretch of the country, which is also home to some amazing ski resorts. Hotham is included on the Epic Pass that you can get from Perisher, giving you unlimited skiing for your stay! Talk about a bargain. We all know that ski passes can be expensive, but if you plan on attending more than one during the year then this is an excellent deal.
Again, as with all the ski resorts discussed in this article, there are plenty of activities to cater to family and friends alike. Kids club is available for the little ones and this is only one of the activities that will keep them entertained during your trip! Not to mention Husky sled dog rides and tours that will take you bounding through backcountry trails with an experienced guide. This is a unique selling point for the Hotham ski field.
In the Hotham Alpine Resort you will find 13 operational lifts that will take you to the top of runs that stretch for up to two and a half kilometres! That is a lot of skiing. State of the art snow making facilities means that even a bad day is a good day for you at Mt Hotham Alpine Resort. You can take sunset helicopter rides over the stunning mountain ranges that are part of the extraordinary resort.
At the end of the day you can put your feet up and relax, with sauna, spa and massage treatments to book in. There is also a range of restaurants and bars to suit any craving, for you or your kids. There are over twenty choices for you in this regard.
There are several ways to get to Hotham, and this is entirely down to you and your budget. Flights can be booked to take you directly to the Hotham Airport from both Sydney and Melbourne.
You can also hire a car from the airport if you want to make it a road trip to remember! This would be around eight hours from Sydney or four and a half hours from Melbourne. If you do plan on driving to the ski resort you must have tyre chains. If you do not own or do not wish to purchase any, they are available to hire during your stay from the local ski hire shops.
Winter Thrills in Australia
From soaring mountains to glorious beaches, fertile farmland and multi-cultural cities, Australia is a continent of extremes. With six states and three territories, Australia is the perfect destination for snow and beach activities and nature lovers.
So, if you and your family are looking for some amazing and unique ski locations for a snow orientated holiday, why go anywhere else? The ski resorts in Australia are breathtaking and perfect for all abilities and ages. If you have not yet already tried skiing ‘down under‘ then I would definitely recommend it.
It may not be the top ski country in the world, but wherever you go, one thing you can be sure of is spectacular mountain scenery. Australian ski resorts offer some amazing deals, so it is certainly worth the trip. Whatever your taste in skiing, winter activities, accommodation, there’s a place for you in the Australian Alps and you will wish you’d come sooner.
Not Sure Where to Stay?
You first need to decide which resort you plan to visit. Once you have decided that, then you get explore all the accommodation options.
There are many different stays from luxury apartments to budget family and backpacking hostels. You can choose either on-snow or accommodation in one of the nearby townships like Jindabyne.
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