Travel

Mt Hotham in Victoria is known for being the powder capital of Australia. (Credit: Getty)

Australia's best ski resorts

  • BY Terri Russell |
  • August 08, 2012

The ski season is here and it's time to and hit the slopes. Here is the best Australia has to offer.

WHY HEAD OVERSEAS FOR an action packed winter getaway when some of the best slopes are right here on your doorstep? Save on flights, avoid the hassle, and kick-up some of Australia's powder bowls for longer this winter.

Whether you're about to embark on your first-ever ski experience or are a seasoned boarder - look no further, Australia has an alpine playground suited to you.

Ski and Snowboard Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Kennedy says skiing in Australia beats its New Zealand counterpart hands down. "Skiing in New Zealand is completely overrated," he says.

Staying local means you don't have to battle long lines at the airport, he adds, or worry about baggage restrictions and more.  "There's something very nice about jumping in the car and driving up to where you're staying," he says.

New Zealand has bigger mountains and more snow, but you're not necessarily guaranteed a ski, Michael says. "People have expectations, and then because of the weather, they can't get up the mountain at all.

And the cost of skiing in Australia isn't much different from overseas. "A lot of noise is being made- but the industry is making an effort to provide better value for money. Resorts came out at the end of last season and promoted early bird passes and helped to generate some excitement," Michael says.

Michael says Perisher will draw in the biggest crowd this season, and Mt Buller will continue to pull the Melbourne weekender market. Falls Creek is the place to go for families, says Michael, while Thredbo continues to provide a unique European village feel.

HERE ARE THE TOP 10 AUSSIE SKI SLOPES


Thredbo - Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Nestled midway between Sydney and Melbourne, this snowy haven has got it all - from gentle beginner runs to some of the most advanced terrain in the country. It boasts a 5.9km run, a 2m snowfall and a summit elevation of 2037m. Fly direct from Sydney or catch a 2.5hr shuttle from Canberra airport. Entry into the national park is free but if you're taking your own car you'll need to get a permit, which will set you back $27 a day. Driving from Sydney or Melbourne will take around six hours. The Thredbo Snow Sports School runs daily classes for all levels. Thredbo is a bustling winter hotspot so make sure you get there early for fresh tracks. 
www.thredbo.com.au


Mt Buller - Alpine National Park VIC

Mt Buller is only a three-hour drive north-east from Melbourne, making it the most accessible slope in Australia. Mt Buller is renowned for its downhill runs, and cross-country enthusiasts have 9km of trails at their disposal. Visitors usually drive to Mt Buller but there's also a coach connection from the airport, or for adrenaline junkies - you can be dropped off in style in a helicopter too. If you drive, you'll have to park about 1.5km out of the village - from there you can take your pick of a free shuttle bus service or 4WD taxi. Keep in mind that car entry and parking costs apply. First-timers can find their feet by buying a Discovery Pass which costs $108 for one day which includes a two-hour lesson and access to seven beginner lifts. Mt Buller offers a range of packages for people of all ages and skill levels. Students get huge discounts.
www.mtbuller.com.au


Mt Hotham - Australian Alps National Park VIC

Mt Hotham hasn't been branded the 'The Powder Capital of Australia' for nothing. Tucked away in Victoria's north-east Mt Hotham is best known for its steep valley runs. It has an elevation of 1861m and has the highest level of natural snow than anywhere else in Victoria. There are easy runs for first-timers and plenty of natural gullies, halfpipes and tree runs for the more experienced. It's a five-hour drive, or if you're keen to spend more time on the slopes, Mt Hotham has its own airport just 20km away -from there you can take a bus to the base of the mountain. Dinner Plain is a 12km bus trip away and is great for beginners or those looking to brush up on their skills. Cross-country skiers can take a 10km trail from Dinner Plain to Mt Hotham. Grab yourself a five-day lift pass for around $85 a day - you definitely get value for money here.
www.mthotham.com.au


Mt Perisher - Kosciuszko National Park NSW

It's the largest alpine resort in the Southern Hemisphere - so expect to be rubbing shoulders with some of Australia's keenest skiers and boarders. Perisher peaks at 2054m and is the largest of seven mountains in the village. It boasts a superpipe, 3km run and over 100km of cross-country trails suited to all levels. You can fly direct from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains Airport and take a shuttle service from there. If you're driving from Sydney or Melbourne it will take about 6-7 hours or 2.5 hours from Canberra. There is some at Perisher, but you can also park at Bullocks Flat Terminal and take the ski-tube direct to the hill. Perisher has a comprehensive online booking system where you can score some great savings.
www.perisher.com.au


Falls Creek - Alpine National Park VIC

Cross-country skiers look no further, as Falls Creek is the place for you. Home to Australia's National Cross Country Ski Team, Falls Creek has over 65km of world-class trails. It is known to many as the freeride and freestyle capital and is home to various state, national and international competitions. Driving from Melbourne will take you about 4.5 hours, or it's a day-trip from Sydney. The only access point is via Mt Beauty, a nearby town, and snowchains are an absolute must for vehicles. Or, you can travel via helicopter or train from Albury (NSW). Unique to Falls Creek is snow biking which will set you back around $40 for a one-hour guided session.
 www.fallscreek.com.au


Selwyn Snowfields - Kosciuszko National Park NSW

If you're looking to take the family on a weekend getaway and get the kids onto the snow - Selwyn Snowfields is your one stop shop. Just a two-hour's drive from Canberra, it's renowned for providing a family friendly ski experience that is affordable and suited for beginners. It is also a hotspot for cross country skiers, who can embark on an impressive 45km stretch of trails. The highest elevation stands at 1614m and $25 will give you unlimited rides on the two terrain parks. A daily lift pass will cost $92 a day. There are no accommodation or shuttle bus services at the resort so most visitors travel by car. You can fly direct from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains Airport.
www.selwynsnow.com.au


Charlotte Pass - Kosciuszko National Park NSW

Charlotte Pass has some of the most consistent natural snowfall in the country. It's completely snow covered during winter and the only way to get there is by Oversnow Transport which will set you back around $80 return. Charlotte Pass is 8km past Mt Perisher and you can jump on board Oversnow Transport from the Perisher skitube terminal. A one day pass is $95 and has something for everyone. Charlotte Pass has its own freestyle terrain park for those looking to get the blood pumping after hitting a variety of jumps, tabletops and rails. Confident skiers and boarders can tour the back-country and discover hidden runs. www.charlottepass.com.au


Mt Baw Baw - Baw Baw National Park VIC

Perfect for a weekend escape - Mt Baw Baw sits just 120km east of Melbourne. The terrain is ideal for snowboarders, downhill and cross country skiers. It has 10km's of cross-country ski trails and a range of small flat boxes, combo boxes, rails and jibs. Mt Baw Baw is a family friendly resort and offers a range of ski packages for kids. Lift tickets cost around $70. Situated close to the city, most visitors drive or take a train to nearby Gippsland and arrange transfers - shuttle services cost $35. There are also shuttle services direct from Melbourne airport or the La Trobe Valley.
www.mountbawbaw.com.au


Mt Buffalo - Mount Buffalo National Park VIC

Mt Buffalo is one of Victoria's oldest national parks and is not far from Falls Creek and Mt Hotham. It's great for families wanting to take a day trip and beginners wanting to develop their skills. There is 11km of marked trails for cross-country skiers. You can drive to Mt Buffalo from Melbourne and (around 4hr), or from Albury, NSW (2hr). There are trains running from Melbourne or flights to nearby Albury or Mt Hotham from Sydney. Mt Buffalo's summit stands at 1695m, lending it to good ski runs.
www.mtbuffalo.com.au


Cradle Mountain - Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park TAS

Tassie hasn't got the best reputation when it comes to ski slopes, but ripping up Cradle Mountain is not baby's play. It offers some of the most rugged, steep and exposed skiing in Australia. Just 144km from Launceston, it's easy to get to and a hike to the summit will take you around 4hr. There aren't any lifts or ski facilities so you're likely to get taken off the beaten track. This peak is not for the faint hearted. Keep an eye on the weather and make sure there's enough snow to make it worth your while. It's a 45-minute walk towards the back of the mountain where you can find a decent back bowl. You'll be trudging around on foot so care must be taken on Cradle Mountain.


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