When people think of Australia they don’t usually think about white, fluffy snow, they think of a hot dessert or tropical beaches! However Australia does have are a few ski resorts that have snow on them for a few months each year. Snow falls on the east coast in Australia mainly in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
The Australian ski season is usually from June to October, however this can change slightly each year and depending on the resort.
Snow in Australia is fairly unpredictable (then again so is the weather in general) or at least this is the experience we have had in Australia. It can be an excellent ski season one year and terrible the next. 2012 was a decent year for snow but 2013 was very warm and even rained a few times, washing away most of the snow, it can be hit and miss.
There are 4 major ski resorts in Australia – Mt Buller, Mount Hotham, Falls creek and Perisher resort. There are a few more smaller resorts or ski fields which we will quickly touch on at the end of this article.
Unlike our “cousin” New Zealand, Australian ski resorts offer on and off mountain accommodation, so you can have a romantic on snow experience.
Mt Buller – Victoria
Mt Buller is a 3 hour drive from the Melbourne CBD but it can take a little longer if you are enjoying the lovely scenery. Mt Buller doubles as summer and winter sporting hub with mountain biking in summer and skiing and snowboarding in winter.
You can get here by car, bus or helicopter (I would opt for the last option!). Depending on where you are staying, you might not have the option to drive up directly on the mountain as parking is minimal, you can however drive up to one of the parking lots and catch the free shuttle the rest of the way (if you are visiting for the day) or a 4wd “taxi” which will take you directly to your apartment (if staying over night). If you are planning to drive up the mountain make sure you hire some snow chains this is a requirement.
Mt Buller has 22 ski lifts however 4 of those “lifts” are carpets. They have a total of 53 runs. Run break down –
3 Green runs (beginners)
22 Blue runs (intermediate)
28 Black runs (difficult)
There is no shortage of places to stay on Mt Buller, from B&B, Hotels, Motels, dorms rooms, resorts and (our favourite) self contained apartments, there will be something to suit everyone’s budget or keep your eye’s open for specials on the Mt Buller website or on coupon website such as scoopon.
Mt Buller Lift ticket prices (as of 2013)
1 Day – $110
7 days – $595 (saving of $175)
They ofer a “3pm ticket” for $52 which is for 1 and a half hours so you might be able to get 4 or maybe 5 runs in, seems a little high for a short period of time
Student (School students 5- 15 years. )
1 day – $61
7 days – $331 (savings of $96)
Tertiary (full-time enrolled students at uni or tafe)
1 day – $88
7 days $478 (savings of $138)
Mt Hotham is approx 4 hour drive from Melbourne however there is an airport close by called Hotham airport, some of the major airlines like Qantas and Virgin airlines have daily flights there, making a weekend trip quick and easy (maybe a little hefty on your pocket but better than a tank or 2 of fuel!).
The lift pass gives you access to over 775 hectares of awesome terrain at not only Hotham but Falls Creek and Dinner Plain as well. 3 resorts for the price of 1! Super Duper Bargain!
Mt Hotham has 11 ski lifts. They have a total of 64 runs. Run break down –
5 Green runs (beginners)
29 Blue runs (intermediate)
30 Black runs (difficult)
There are several accommodations types on and off mountain from Chalets, services and self contained apartments, lodges, hotels and motels or you could choose to stay at the Dinner Plain Village.
Mt Hotham has a very unique experience with Husky dogs which whisk you along on a winter dog sledding. I believe this is the only ski resort in Australia that has dog sledding.
Mt Hotham – Lift ticket prices (as of 2013)
1 day – $110
7 day – $599 (saving of $171)
Student (School students 6- 14 years. )
1 day – $55
7 day – $299 (saving of $86)
Tertiary (15-18 years old)
1 day – $84
7 days – $509 (saving of $79)
Falls Creek Alpine Resort
Falls Creek is just “down the road” from Mt Hotham which is approx 4 and a half hours drive from Melbourne however you can utilize the Hotham airport, some of the major airlines like Qantas and Virgin airlines have daily flights there making a weekend trip quick and easy.
There are several accommodations types on and off mountain from Chalets, services and self contained apartments, lodges, hotels and motels.
Falls Creek has 15 ski lifts. They have a total of 90+ runs and trails. Run break down –
Falls creek – Lift ticket prices (as of 2013)
1 day – $110
7 days – $599 (saving of $171)
Youth (School students 15-18 years. )
1 day – $94
7 days – $509 (saving of $149)
Child (School students 6-14 years. )
1 day – $55
7 days – $299 (saving of $86)
Perisher Ski Resort
Perisher is an long but easy 5 and a half to 6 hour drive from Sydney via Canberra or a long 7 hour drive from Melbourne. If you can’t be bothered with a long drive or you are short on time you can fly, the Snowy Mountains Airport Shuttles meet every Brindabella flight with shuttles direct to and from Skitube (which takes you up to the mountain).
Perisher is one of Australia’s most popular snow holiday destination. Perisher is located in the very picturesque Kosciuszko National Park in NSW, its vast expanse makes it the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest alpine resort. The varied terrain is suitable for all ages and abilities, from first timers right up to experts.
There are several accommodations types on and off mountain from hotels, lodges and self contained apartments. You can choose to stay at Jindabyne, Perisher Village, Smiigins Holes and Alpine way.
Perisher is made up 7 mountain peaks and has 47 ski lifts. They have a total of 97 runs plus extra trails. Run break down –
38 Green runs (beginners)
48 Blue runs (intermediate)
11 Black runs (difficult) + 1 Double black diamond!
Perisher – Lift ticket prices (as of 2013)
You can save $$ by booking online with a min of 3 days in advance
1 day – $115
7 days – $706 (saving of $99)
Student (School students 5- 14 years. )
1 day – $63
7 days – $387 (saving of $54)
Other smaller but popular ski fields in Victoria are:
Mount Baw Baw, which is 30 acres of ski field, with mainly beginner and intermediate ski runs. They have 7 lifts with a few runs. There are a few accommodations and restaurant options on the mountain. Mount Baw Baw is usually a little quieter than the “main mountains”.
Mount Stirling is a cross-country and back country ski field. Mount Stirling has no commercial accommodation on the mountain however you can try out the Alpine camping in the snow! You can purchase different packages which include a Teepee and food delivered too you. The other option is staying at Mt Buller which is very close by and travelling over to Mount Stirling for the day. There are no ski lifts on this mountain.
Other smaller but popular ski fields in New South Wales are:
Charlotte Pass is Australia’s oldest ski resort. This resort has 5 lifts and 7 runs; it is also very popular with cross country skiers. Charlottes pass usually receives more snow each year as it is one of the highest peaks in Australia. There are several lodges hotels and Alpines clubs at stay in while visiting.
Selwyn Snowfields is a small ski resort in the Snow Mountains. It has 11 lifts and 15 runs with the longest run being 800m which is called the Long Arm Run. There is no accommodation available at Selwyn snowfields, however you can stay nearby in Cabramurra but there is limited accommodations there.
Other smaller but popular ski fields in Tasmania
Ben Lomond is a ski resort 70 mins from Launceston, providing an affordable family experience. Ben Lomond has 7 lifts and 40,772 acres f ski field.
There is no accommodation on the mountain however they recommend some nearby accommodation on their website.
Mount Mawson ski area is 89 km from Hobart or 232km from Launceston. Mount Mawson has three rope tow “lifts” which are 2 intermediate rope tows and a 3r steep incline rope tow accessing steeper terrain. A small amount of club accommodation is available on Mount Mawson and there are some self-catering huts in the National Park.