Skiing isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Australia – perhaps because the largely arid country isn’t commonly associated with snow. However, from the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere to the seemingly endless backcountry of the Snowy Mountains, there’s plenty here for the avid skier.
Australia’s best ski resorts lie within the states of Victoria and New South Wales, and can be reached within a few hours’ drive from Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra. The best time to go is during peak ski season from late July to August, when there’s a good chance of snow coverage.
1. Experience the largest resort in the Southern Hemisphere at Perisher
With four ski villages, Perisher in New South Wales is the largest ski resort not only in Australia but also the Southern Hemisphere. Under a three-hour drive from Canberra, it’s a well-rounded resort with a variety of terrain to cater to skiers of different abilities. The only conceivable reason why you wouldn’t visit is if you aren’t confident with T-bar lifts, because there are tons here – although laughing about your struggles makes for great après ski banter, we say!
The resort also hosts the popular Peak Music Festival every year, and puts on firework displays every Tuesday and Saturday night.
How much: An adult day lift pass starts from AU$139. Lift tickets can only be purchased online.
2. Ski down Australia’s longest runs in Thredbo
Not too far from Perisher, Thredbo is a 2.5-hour drive from Canberra and is one of the most popular ski resorts among locals. It offers a diverse range of trails, from beginner to advanced, including the five longest runs in the country and the highest vertical drop in Australia. That’s not all the national records Thredbo holds; it also has the highest ski lift Down Under, which whisks intrepid skiers as high as 2037m – where they can then schuss down the mountain or go backcountry.
Off the slopes, the resort hosts a wide range of events, from family fun nights to wild parties. It’s also home to the Thredbo Leisure Centre, where you’ll find a bouldering wall, a heated pool and even an inflatable obstacle course.
How much: An adult day lift pass starts from AU$179.
3. Find a challenge at Mount Hotham
Mount Hotham in Victoria is a 4.5-hour drive from Melbourne, but as with any resort, it’s always good to factor in extra time for adverse weather conditions. It undoubtedly offers some of Australia’s most challenging ski terrain, including the country’s steepest double black diamond run. When the snow gods deliver, the gnarly bowls and gullies offer an unbeatable ski experience.
Unlike other resorts, the ski village here sits on an alpine ridge rather than at the base of the mountain – perfect if you’re looking for the convenience of ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
How much: An adult day lift pass starts from AU$148.
4. Try out beginner friendly terrain in Falls Creek
If you’re after something a bit mellower, Falls Creek is ideal for intermediate skiers. It is home to a whopping 92 runs, and doesn’t get as crowded as other ski resorts such as Perisher. Like Mount Hotham, Falls Creek is 4.5-hour drive from Melbourne and also has its fair share of ski-in/ski-out accommodation. However, do note that the north-facing roads down in the village can lose their snow coverage quickly, which means you may end up having to walk to the lifts.
How much: An adult day lift pass starts from AU$126.
5. Families can flock to Mount Buller
A three-hour drive from Melbourne, Mount Buller is the most accessible ski resort in Victoria. This also means you’ll see flocks of Melbournians there, especially on weekends. It’s a fantastic family-friendly resort, with slopes for every ability and even a snow play area for the little ones. Plus, it has as much to offer off the slopes as it does on them; how do lively bars, pampering spas and two toboggan parks sound?
How much: An adult day lift pass starts from AU$107.
– Visiting during the Australian winter school holidays isn’t advisable, so check the dates before you book to avoid the crowds.
– Rent your gear from ski shops instead of resorts. The gear at the latter is generally older and, given the number of people who use them, tends to be more worn out.
– The Australian Alps are prone to variable weather conditions including rain, so good waterproof clothing is essential. An outer shell and inner wear are sufficient for warmer days.
– Hit the slopes early in the morning. Given the weather conditions in Australia, you might be skiing on slush by the afternoon.
– Have lunch at 11am or 3pm, so you can avoid the queues and spend more time on the slopes.
This article was contributed by Snowpak.com.
This article was originally published in July 2018