If you’re feeling inspired by the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, with all of those aerials in the snowboarding, the death-defying luge and skeleton, or the incredibly elegant figure skating, you might be wondering what it’s like to slide down a slope yourself. Australian ski resorts don’t immediately come to mind when we think of winter sports, but there are in fact, a host of excellent Australian ski resorts for beginners on home soil. There’s no need to fly to New Zealand or Japan, in fact the smaller mountains of the Great Dividing Range make for perfect, gentle slopes for the novice skier and snowboarder. Here’s our guide to the best Australian ski resorts.
Falls Creek is the place to ski for Melbournians. Just under five hour’s drive from the Victorian capital, this ski resort is perfect for beginners with an impressive 27 beginner runs. There’s no getting bored of the same old downhill here! The ski school is renowned as one of the best in the country too, so you’ll be standing up and swerving down the mountain in no time. The resort itself is based right on the mountain, so travel time is also minimised; plus when you want to throw it all in and head to the bar or spa, there’s not far to go.
Perisher isn’t just the largest of Australia’s ski resorts; it’s the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The area that makes up Perisher is in fact four ski villages: Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow. The entire resort covers an area of about 1,245 hectares (3,000 acres) of snow-covered terrain and is serviced by 47 lifts. A three-hour drive from Canberra, Perisher is accessible by car, or the Skitube, Australia’s only alpine railway, which is a great alternative for day trippers from Canberra or skiers and boarders staying in nearby Jindabyne. Beginners are spoilt for choice here, with ski schools in each of the resorts, and more than 30 beginner level downhill runs. Those looking for a less-vertical challenge might prefer to tackle some of the 100 kilometres of cross country trails.
If you’re looking for Australia’s best powdery snow, Mount Hotham is the place to go. Thanks to its southern location and impressive altitude (the resort sits at 1,861 metres, while Perisher Valley is at 1,720 metres), Mount Hotham regularly receives the biggest snow falls in Australia. There are six beginner runs, and with accommodation right on the mountain, it’s an easy commute back home at the end of the day. This is another popular resort for beginners coming from Melbourne, with city to slopes coming in at four and a half hours.
One of the most remote resorts in the mountains, Charlotte Pass is a great place to learn to ski away from the crowds of the more popular resorts. As one of the highest resorts in Australia (1,755 metre base elevation, 1,964 top elevation), it is completely snow bound with ski-in ski-out accommodation. To reach the resort, you either park at the base of the mountains and ride the Skitube to Perisher Valley, or drive to the valley, where you board a purpose-built oversnow vehicle for the scenic 8-kilometre journey to the resort. Charlotte Pass has five runs designed specifically for beginners and a quality ski school catering to private lessons, ladies-only classes and group tuition for both adults and kids.
The northernmost snow resort in Australia, Selwyn is a measly two and a half hour drive from Canberra, and just over an hour from Tumut. While the resort is geared mostly toward families, it’s an excellent place to learn to ski or snowboard at any age thanks to its gentle slopes. With just 10 lifts and 40% of the resort made up of beginner terrain, within a day or two you’ll be able to navigate more of the resort than you would in any other resort down under.
Perhaps Australia’s most famous alpine resort, Thredbo is the base for reaching Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko. In the winter, however, it’s a winter wonderland, perfect for honing your skills on the slopes. A dedicated beginners area, Friday Flat is the place to start, while there are myriad yellow and green runs to progress onto. The other bonus that Thredbo provides that other resorts don’t is that it’s not only a resort but an alpine village with multiple options when it comes to accommodation, dining and entertainment. Perfect for when the slopes get too much.