With winter in full swing, the sporting agenda for many Australians changes dramatically. For just a few months each year, the cool climes of the country’s snowfields beckon to skiers and snowboarders. There are Australian slopes that cater for all levels of skill and many can make for a great family holiday. Here’s our guide to helping you make the most of the Australian ski season.
Where Can You Ski In Australia?
New South Wales and Victoria offer great downhill and cross country skiing opportunities during winter. The Australian Capital Territory also has cross-country skiing trails and so too (surprisingly) does Tasmania.
New South Wales
In New South Wales you'll find Australia's highest, oldest and most developed ski resorts with slopes catering for everyone. Almost all of the state’s skiing takes place around the Snowy Mountains and Kosciusko region. Here you’ll find Thredbo and Perisher, two of the most popular resorts, as well as the family-friendly Selwyn snowfields. Charlotte Pass – also a great place to learn – is Australia’s highest ski resort and completely surrounded by snow during winter. This means you can only access the slopes here by oversnow transport. Most resorts offer a range of difficulties in their slopes and run lessons for everyone – including young children. There are also many other fun activities available for those who want a break from the snow.
Victoria is home to many fine ski resorts. Of those, Mount Buller (22 lifts and 300 hectares) is perhaps the most popular, and one that caters well for first-time skiers. It’s also close to Melbourne, making it an ideal resort for day trippers. For the best skiing opportunities at the shoulder of the season, try Hotham (13 lifts), which as a general rule gets more snowfall than any other resort in the state. It’s also famous for ‘powder’ snow. Falls Creek is Victoria’s largest alpine resort and is well known for its ski-in, ski-out accommodation. Along with its many downhill runs, Falls Creek boasts 65 kilometres of cross-country trails. If you want to introduce the kids to the snow, Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw and Mt Stirling are family-friendly, with beginner runs and snow play areas for the kids. They also offer good cross country skiing opportunities.
Ski in Tasmania? Yes you can. The state is mountainous and sees regular snowfall. For a relaxed ski environment try Ben Lomond, 60 kilometres outside Launceston, and Mount Mawson, around 90 kilometres away from Hobart. The Tasmanian ski season is a bit later than the rest of Australia, with the best snow cover normally being found in August.
Understanding the colour code
All ski runs on Australian slopes are given a colour coding to help visitors identify how challenging they are. Apart from the teaching slopes, ski runs are graded with a green circle, blue square, black diamond or double black diamond. The green slopes are generally the easiest and the best suited for beginners, blue is slightly more difficult, while black runs are for very confident skiers.