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Get to Know Australia's Ski Fields

June 21, 2018

Australia's first ski field was at Kiandra, a gold mining town in New South Wales' Snowy Mountains.

Kiandra Carnival, 1900. Image credit: Charles Kerry
(Kiandra Carnival, 1900. Image credit: Charles Kerry)

The discovery of gold by mountain cattlemen in 1859 drove the first wave of visitors to the region. Accounts from the time suggest that ensuing rush brought somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 people to the area chasing their fortune: miners, shopkeepers, butchers, bakers, bankers and publicans all capitalising on the gleaming riches being pulled from the ground and rivers.

Think 15,000 might be an exaggeration? Keep in mind that Kiandra had 14 pubs at the time. By 1861, the gleaming easy-pickings had been exhausted, and the bulk of Kiandra’s prospectors and businesses had moved on. At around this time, recreational skiing was introduced to the snowbound settlement by Norwegian miners and the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, winter visitors to the Snowy Mountains chase a different rush.

“Australia is blessed with ski terrain to suit all abilities, outstanding ski schools and gorgeous European-style ski villages, making it the perfect place for beginners and families”, says Emily Foy, General Manager of Brisbane’s ATAS accredited Snowscene.

“With early-bird specials and mid-week packages up to 30%-off at selected resorts, skiing in Australia can be great value without the hassle of international travel. “Many of our customers ski the southern & northern hemisphere each year, and their Australian ski trip helps keep their ski legs and skills on point”, continues Emily.
 
Taking in the view at Perisher. Image credit: Perisher
(Taking in the view at Perisher. Image credit: Perisher)

Read on and join us on a journey through Australia's high country and the ski fields that draw thousands to these spectacular places each winter.

Contact your ATAS accredited travel agent to plan the perfect Australian ski trip this winter.

VICTORIA

Victoria's snow fields are dominated by three big names serving up an enviable choice of runs to suit skiers and snowboarders of any ability: Hotham, Buller and Falls Creek.
 Snow, Wonnangatta National Park, VIC - Tourism Australia
(Snow, Wonnangatta National Park, VIC - Tourism Australia)

Hotham

Often referred to as Australia's 'powder capital', Hotham is the highest snow resort in Victoria.

Hotham boasts 13 lifts that can move more than 24,000 people per hour across its runs, the longest of which is nearly 2.5 kilometres in length.

Mount Hotham. Image credit:  Mount Hotham(Mount Hotham. Image credit:  Mount Hotham)

There's a dedicated Kids Snowzone for children 3-14 to learn to ski and board. And there's a kids club for littlies from 3 months to 5 years of age.
  • No. lifts: 13
  • No. ski runs: 80+
  • Highest lifted point: 1856m
Hotham is more than 350 kilometres from Melbourne, and an 8-hour drive from Sydney. Diamond-pattern chains are mandatory for any cars entering the Mount Hotham Alpine Resort during the official snow season.
 Mount Hotham mountain ranges. Image credit: Visit Victoria(Mount Hotham mountain ranges. Image credit: Visit Victoria)

Nearest airports: Hotham Airport.


Buller

One of Buller's best attributes is its on-slopes accommodation and ski-to-your-front-door experience just 3-hours from Melbourne.
 Mount Buller. Image credit: Visit Victoria(Mount Buller. Image credit: Visit Victoria)

Mount Buller has more on-mountain accommodation than any other ski resort in Victoria, and more than 30 bars and restaurants.

There are three terrain parks, an ultra-cross course, two toboggan parks and the Gnome Roam adventure area for kids. There's even a cinema.
  • No. lifts: 22
  • No. ski runs: 80+
  • Highest lifted point: 1780m
Nearest airports: Melbourne and Albury

Falls Creek

Falls Creek Alpine Resort is Victoria's largest and enjoys a reputation for reliable snow, cross country trails and terrain parks. Like Mount Buller, Falls Creek offers true on-mountain accommodation, and is completely ski-in, ski-out in peak snow conditions.
 Falls Creek village. Image credit: Visit Victoria(Falls Creek village. Image credit: Visit Victoria)

Falls Creek is great for beginner and intermediate skiers, Snowclub 4 Kids offers lessons for 3 to 5 year olds, and Junior Programs take care of things for kids 6 to 14 years of age.
  • No. lifts: 15
  • No. ski runs: 90+
  • Highest lifted point: 1780m
Falls creek is 4.5 hours drive from Melbourne, more than 7 hours from Sydney, and about 2 hours from Albury.

V/Line trains connect Melbourne with Albury and the V/Line coach service to Mt Beauty. From there, Falls Creek Coaches look after the final run to the slopes.

Nearest airport: Albury Airport

But wait. There’s more. There's more to Victoria's snow country than just the 'big three'.

The postcard-perfect alpine village of Dinner Plain nestles in the snow gums on Australia's highest freehold land on the Great Alpine Road just 10 minutes from Mount Hotham. Dinner Plains' gentle beginner slopes are a great place to get your confidence before graduating to the serious stuff at Hotham.
 Accommodation at Dinner Plain. Image credit: Visit Victoria(Accommodation at Dinner Plain. Image credit: Visit Victoria)

The family-friendly ski-fields and lifts of Mount Baw Baw are less than 3 hours from Melbourne, and a great place to find your feet on the snow. Take a ski or snowboard lesson, grab a toboggan or even join the huskies on a back-country dog sled adventure.
 Skiing at Mount Baw Baw. Image credit: Destination Gippsland(Skiing at Mount Baw Baw. Image credit: Destination Gippsland)

Just 3 hours from Melbourne, Mount Stirling is popular with back-country types happy to trek to the summit and make their own tracks. Mountain trails here are patrolled for peace of mind, and there are three toboggan areas ready for family fun.

Sub-alpine Mount Buffalo is home to two places that come alive in winter: Dingo Dell and Cresta Valley. You'll find toboggan slopes, snow play areas and cross-country ski trails through gently undulating terrain. The Cathedral, Mount Buffalo. Image credit: Tourism Australia(The Cathedral, Mount Buffalo. Image credit: Tourism Australia)

Lake Mountain is just 2 hours from Melbourne, making it the nearest ski field to the city - perfect for a city-slicker's daytrip to the snow. Predominantly a cross-country ski area, there's plenty to keep the kids occupied including seven fun toboggan runs.

NEW SOUTH WALES

The epicentre of snow sports in New South Wales is the breath-taking Kosciuszko National Park, home to four ski resorts and Australia's highest peak - Mount Kosciuszko.
 Friends, Perisher. Image credit: Perisher(Friends, Perisher. Image credit: Perisher)

Thredbo

Thredbo is home to Australia's highest lifted point and longest ski runs.

Thredbo offers a huge range of snow terrain for all abilities and ages, as well as terrain parks, lessons and programs to get you going no mater your level of experience.
 Skiing in Thredbo. Image credit: Steve Cuff / Destination NSW(Skiing in Thredbo. Image credit: Steve Cuff / Destination NSW)

Delightful Thredbo village was modelled on a European skiing town reflecting the heritage of workers on the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the 1950s credited with establishing its location as a ski field. The village sits right at the base of the valley, facing the extensive slopes and snowy peaks.
  • No. lifts: 13
  • No. ski runs: 50+
  • Highest lifted point: 2037m
 Candlelight Lodge, Thredbo, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW(Candlelight Lodge, Thredbo, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW)

Thredbo is roughly 6 hours drive from both Sydney and Melbourne, less than 3 hours from Canberra, and 30-minutes from Jindabyne.

Nearest airports: Snowy Mountains (Cooma) and Canberra

Perisher

A huge resort comprised of four areas - Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega - Perisher is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere.
Skier in Smiggin Hole, Perisher. Image credit: Perishe(Skier in Smiggin Hole, Perisher. Image credit: Perisher)

Blue Cow offers a range of ski runs; Smiggin Holes is considered one of Australia's best ski fields for beginners; Guthega is famed for its good skiing and panoramic views of the Kosciusko mountain; and Perisher Valley takes things up a notch with five terrain parks and Australia's only superpipe.
  • No. lifts: 47
  • Highest lifted point: 2034m 
Like Thredbo, Perisher is 6 hours drive from both Sydney and Melbourne, less than 3 hours from Canberra, and 35-minutes from Jindabyne.
 
Nearest airports: Snowy Mountains (Cooma) and Canberra

(Guthega Alpine Inn, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW)
(Guthega Alpine Inn, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW)

Charlotte Pass Alpine Resort

Charlotte Pass is Australia's highest ski village and offers ski-in, ski-out lodging.
 Charlotte Pass, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW(Charlotte Pass, Snowy Mountains. Image credit: Destination NSW)

Completely snowbound in winter, the village is only accessible by oversnow transport making Charlotte Pass’ arrival experience like no other Australian resort.

State-of-the-art oversnow vehicles transport guests and visitors from the Perisher Valley Skitube terminal through alpine landscapes and into Charlotte Pass.
Because of its elevation, Charlotte Pass receives - on average - more natural snow than other Australian resorts, and the coldest place in Australia, with a record low of -23.0 °C.
  • No. lifts: 5
  • Highest lifted point: 1964m
Charlotte Pass is 8 kilometres from Perisher Valley.

Nearest airports: Snowy Mountains (Cooma) and Canberra

Selwyn Snowfields

Selwyn has long been known as a family-friendly resort with good skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snow tubing. Ski lessons are offered to get you on your way to explore Selwyn's graded runs.
 
Selwyn Snowfields
(Selwyn Snowfields)

The resort traces its origins back to Australia's first ski fields at nearby Kiandra whose facilities were relocated to Selwyn in 1978.
  • No. lifts: 9
  • Highest lifted point: 1614m
Selwyn Snowfields is about 5.5 hours drive from Sydney, a touch over 6 hours from Melbourne, less than 3 hours from Canberra, and 90-minutes from Jindabyne.

Nearest airports: Snowy Mountains (Cooma) and Canberra

TASMANIA

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond, Tasmania's premier ski spot, is just 60 kilometres from Launceston in the state's north. The Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club formed in 1929 pioneering the first trips to the mountain, but it wasn't until 1950 that a parliamentary committee recommended that Ben Lomond be developed as a ski resort.
 
Ben Lomond. Image credit: Thomas Carpenter / Tourism Tasmania
(Ben Lomond. Image credit: Thomas Carpenter / Tourism Tasmania)

The village sits at an altitude of 1,453 metres at the base of the ski slopes which are good for beginners and intermediate skiers.
  • No. lifts: 6
  • Highest lifted point: 1572m
Ben Lomond is a little over an hour from Launceston, and about 3.5 hours from Hobart.

Nearest airport: Launceston

Australia’s ski fields provide such a contrast to the rest of the country. Our alpine areas are truly magical and astonishingly beautiful, unlike any other on the planet. Contact your ATAS accredited travel agent for all the specialised information you need to know to plan and book your perfect winter getaway in Australia.

If you're looking for more great holiday inspiration read our blogs for Reasons to Holiday in Australia or Top 5 Places Places to travel Interstate this Winter.

Categories - Snow & Skiing Australia Leisure Travel

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