Picture cruising down a snowy mountain slope with soft powder kicking up every time you slice your board’s back edge across the mountain’s face, while through your goggles you can see a magical winter landscape. This is not an image most people conjure when they think of Australia. However, thousands of local and international guests will be enjoying moments like the one above at Australia’s ski resorts this winter.
The ideology of many Australians is to escape our dull winters by heading north, but there’s a lot of fun and adventure to be found by embracing the Australian ski season. You’re not limited to just one stumpy mountain with a few runs either. Australia boasts multiple ski resorts with runs of varying difficulty and style including the Southern Hemisphere’s largest resort.
Here are four Australian ski resorts that can give you the winter excitement you've been craving.
Perisher (New South Wales)
Perisher (sometimes called ‘Perisher Blue’) is one of Australia’s most popular snow destinations and the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. With 12 kilometres of picturesque mountainside, Perisher is able to offer skiers and boarders multiple runs that range from beginner to expert and provide an authentic alpine experience.
You can also test out your aerial skills at any of the resort's terrain parks and there are high-quality learning facilities and instructors to get beginners shredding powder in a matter of days. If you’re more comfortable off a board or skis, you can take a scenic chair lift ride, go tobogganing or find thrills at the Skitube Alpine Railway.
Perisher is kicking off the 2014 snow season with the annual Perisher Peak Festival from June 6-9, where you can see around 140 concerts featuring artists of various music styles.
Falls Creek (Victoria)
Located in the Australian Alps, Falls Creek is a diverse ski resort that keeps the action and variety coming your way for the entirety of your visit. Although its runs are slightly smaller and less challenging than Perisher, the range of terrain parks is phenomenal, starting with beginner courses and climaxing with the epic Ruined Castle Expert Park where the Falls Creek Big Air and Stylewars are held.
Aside from skiing and snowboarding, you can also hike the mountains with snowshoes, cruise through the snow on snowmobile tours and snow bike through the ranges. Night skiing is available and means you don’t have to stop even when the sun sets. There are also entertaining shows held in the evening that incorporate performers and fireworks.
Start the winter season with an icy plunge at Falls Creek by joining the other brave souls as they dive into the freezing water of Rocky Valley Dam on June 1, or get amongst the wild opening weekend festivities from June 7-9.
Thredbo (New South Wales)
Few ski resorts know how to celebrate the snow season quite as well as Thredbo, which will hold its opening weekend from June 7-9. Over three days, you’ll be able to catch live music acts, watch world-renowned Japanese ice sculptor Kenji Ogawa create frozen masterpieces better than Elsa in Frozen, enjoy the new Snow Play Area, drink in Jacuzzis and heated pools, and of course slice through fresh snow down the resort’s slopes.
Outside of the opening weekend, Thredbo is a great place for quality skiing and snowboarding terrain, exploring classic Snowy Mountains backcountry and getting legendary air off 18-metre-high jumps. The Thredbo Ski Museum and Denman Day Spa, along with family fun nights that include snowman building competitions and fire pits, give everyone something to get excited about.
For a truly unique experience, make sure you watch the weekly fireworks display and flare run, when advanced boarders and skiers wind their way down the mountain’s face with lit flares, creating a flaming snake.
Mount Buller (Victoria)
Ski and snowboard where the Australian Winter Olympic athletes train, at Mt Buller, located only three hours from the city of Melbourne. Home of the Australian Institute of Winter Sports, Mt Buller promises immaculate runs from greens (beginner) to black diamonds (advanced).
Cross-country skiers will be happy to know that Mt Buller’s trails provide breathtaking views and a physical workout. You can also watch a magical sunset from the peak, before skiing and boarding under the stars during Twilight Skiing. If you somehow become tired of snow, get pampered in Australia’s highest-altitude day spa or take a scenic flight over the area.
Rejoice in the coming of the snow season at Mt Buller’s official Opening Weekend starting on June 7, where there are plenty of children activities, fireworks and live entertainment. Stick around on the Saturday night for the James Boag’s Facebook Party.