The Best Australian Ski Resorts
When you think of Australia, you probably think of surfing, diving, snorkeling, visiting the Outback... and skiing? That’s right. The land Down Under, home to kangaroos and crocodiles, also has a booming snow sports industry. As we move into the winter months in the southern hemisphere (the ski season officially begins in June), Australian ski resorts are gearing up for the winter rush. Here are some of your best bets if you want to hit the slopes in Oz this year.
Mt. Buller - located in the Victoria high country, Mt. Buller is the closest mountain to Melbourne, offering easy access to day-trippers. Mt. Buller has been called Australia’s most accessible mountain; the 3,000 hectares of trails are accessible by 25 lifts that can move up to 40,000 people per hour. There are trails for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, as well as a half-pipe and ultra cross course.
Mt. Buller is also home to the Australian Institute of Winter Sports, an Olympic training facility. If you would rather relax while everyone else skis, you can spend the day at the Breathtaker on High Alpine Spa Retreat, the highest day spa in Australia.
If you want to ski in powder, then head to Mt. Hotham, the “Powder Capital of Australia.” Because of Mt. Hotham’s location, much of the snow is manufactured. Mt. Hotham is best for experienced skiers, as it doesn’t have any beginner or children’s trails. However, if you are an intermediate or advanced skier, Mt. Hotham offers pleasant runs throughout the season thanks to trails that face in all directions. You can usually find a trail with plenty of snow and moderate temperatures.
Mt. Hotham is also easy to get to – it’s the only resort area in Australia that has its own dedicated airport, approximately 15 miles away. The après ski scene here is always a good time, as the resort area boasts a wide variety of bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
New South Wales
For skiers who are more advanced and boarders who want a challenge, Thredbo is a challenging Alpine resort at the foot of Australia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciusko. Thredbo is the self-proclaimed premiere alpine resort in Australia and offers a wide variety of activities for any winter sports lover. There are some trails for beginning skiers as well.
Thredbo, thanks to its location below the snow line, has to create most of its snow, and it actually has the largest snowmaking system in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the location of the Australian Institute of Sports’ Alpine Training Centre. Off the slopes, Thredbo has plenty of nightlife, as well as a spa, indoor swimming and other indoor sports facilities.
Perisher AustraliaNot far from Thredbo, Perisher Australia is Australia’s largest ski resort, created from the merger of four smaller resorts (Perisher, Blue Cow, Guthega and Smiggin Holes). Perisher Blue has trails and activities for those who have never been on skis or a board before, as well as extreme courses for more advanced enthusiasts. Perisher Blue is also home to Australia’s highest chair lift. However, if you want activities other than skiing, such as movies, bowling, shopping or a spa, you’re better off staying in town or choosing another resort. Perisher prides itself on having one of the largest areas of skiable terrain in Australia, but it has very few off-slope options for entertainment other than nightclubs and bars.
Both Thredbo and Perisher Blue, as well as the smaller and more secluded Charlottes Pass ski area, are all easily accessible from the resort town of Jindabayne, making it possible to try all three areas in one trip.
Advantages of Skiing Australia
Because Australia isn’t well known as a ski destination, it has some major advantages over other ski resort areas. Aussie resorts tend to be smaller and less crowded than other parts of the world, and the ski areas are generally easily accessible from the major cities by car or domestic flight. And of course, the larger resorts offer equipment rentals and lessons, making it possible for you to enjoy a day on the slopes as part of your Australian vacation without having to lug all your gear from home.
Weather is another of Australia’s advantages. Even in the coldest winter months – July and August – the weather stays more temperate than in other areas. Most days you can expect blue skies and sunshine, while the resorts create the snow. If you’re coming from the northern hemisphere, skiing Australia gives you the chance to enjoy your favorite sport year round.
Australia might not be the first place you think of when you’re considering a ski getaway, but it’s a growing industry, and there are plenty of resorts with challenging trails and gorgeous scenery to enjoy. Why not give it a try?