As mornings get darker and the evenings shorter, thoughts move from BBQs and chilled rose, beach adventures and sandals to slow cooked deliciousness, red wine and of course an adventure in the snow. And as Australia is a land of pretty much every clime, then there are snow adventures galore in NSW and Victoria.
Starting in Sydney, if you’re a boarder or a skier, then Perisher is the place to go. Now as with all good things, it’s not a quick jaunt, but it’s definitely worth the effort, especially as we have thrown in a few little stops on the way to whet the whistle and tickle your fancy.
You'll want to allow at least three days for frolicking on the field, and a day or two each side to conquer the drive. So pack your puffer, throw the board on the roof rack and embark on our snow filled roadie. And if you're in need of some more thermal layers, or a new pair of goggles, or you just want to be sure you’ve got everything you need for your snow-based holiday, then check out the snowsports gear on Outdoria.
Raw powered kickstart
Head out from Sydney direction Canberra, on the M31. As it’s a big drive you have to make sure you manage your caffeine requirements so our pick is to duck off the M31 - for a coffee and smoothie stop at Raw and Wild Market and Cafe, top of Bong Bong St in Bowral. With a range of acai bowls, a full menu and a large cabinet full of take away food, this is the place to begin your snow sports roadie.
Back on the road, loaded with treats and coffee, keep going down 31 turning at the M23 headed towards the capital. And in respect of this salubrious city, your next focus has to be a little more cerebral. Well sort of.
At the town of Collector, make sure you stop to wander around and have a little moments reflection at the ornate cement sculpture called Dreamer that sits beside the main road. The unfinished sculpture seems to polarise people, but it’s a great opportunity to get out of the car, stretch your legs and think about Tony Phantastes and his homage to bushrangers, dreaming, his father and the landscape that the gate sits in.
Pitstop with capital views
Now whilst we know the snow will be calling, rather than simply passing Canberra by, make the time to familiarise yourself with the nation’s capital and stop at the Mount Ainslie Lookout. With grand views across the landscape to the mountains and over Lake Burley Griffin, you’ll be able to check out parliament from a birds eye view and appreciate Walter Burley Griffin’s geometric and green vision for the city. So grab a couple of selfies against this phenomenal back drop and get the blood circulating once again before leaping back into the car.
Warm up with Wildbrumby
By the time you get to Jindabyne (especially if you’re basing yourself here), you’ll be pretty parched and a tad peckish. So rather than going straight to your Jindabyne accommodation or blasting up to the resort if that’s where you’re based, take a left past Jindabyne onto Alpine Way and stop off at Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery.
With a distinctly Germanic flavour you can scoff German sausage, slurp up their goulash or chomp down on a schnitzel burger and for those with a vegetarian palate there are ricotta and spinach dumplings to devour. Wash these down with a shot of devil’s tongue or fruit flavoured schnapps (one shot only for the driver though) or go mainstream with a glass of imported ale. And you’re sure to be a happy winter camper.
Where to stay
The area around the mountains gets a little chocka – especially in peak season – so please remember to pre-book your accommodation. We’d hate for you to be left out in the cold.
Perisher - the upshot
Perisher is a big player, in fact with seven peaks and 3,076, glorious tree filled acres at its disposal, Perisher can boast being the largest resort this side of the equator. Not only are there four areas that cater for all abilities and 47 lifts to get you to wherever you might want to go, but there is also a train (or a bus if that’s what you fancy) to help navigate your way around the far reaches of the field.
For those new to snow sports, head to Yabby Flat Terrain Park, the perfect place to refine your half pipe ride before heading out to the big bad lands of the Front Valley Pipe. Otherwise they have lots of gentle slopes for those wanting to try their hand at either skiing or boarding. If you’re a master carver then skiing the steeper runs between the gum trees is your bag.
The good folk at Perisher aren’t all about a days skiing however. They are the kings of apres and around ski entertainment. There’s night skiing and a fireworks display on a Thursday (‘cause you can on a Thursday) and in Jindabyne there are a range of 30 restaurants and bars at your disposal, so somewhere for everyone to go to grab a mulled wine, a Wild Brumby Schnapps and a pizza or two.
The practical deets
Something to bear in mind when skiing at Perisher – or in fact the next resort Thredbo – is that you will need a pass for your car in the Mt Kosciuszko National Park (unless you already have an annual pass). During the ski season the day passes are about $29 per day, but if you’re staying for a week or more then jump online and buy the annual pass.
You also need to make sure you have snow chains in your vehicle as the weather is changeable. These can be picked up from chain hire outlets in Cooma, Berridale and Jindabyne. In addition a roof rack is a grand idea as you can fit more of your crew in the car if your hardware rides on the roof. Otherwise, you can always park your car at the skitube carpark and let the train take you up the hill.
Thredbo - the big picture
Sticking in the area, just a mere hour's drive from Perisher and only 30 minutes from Jindabyne, you’ll find Thredbo. Thredbo proudly claims to have the longest runs in the country (5 of the longest). And whilst you’d think given it's low altitude snow would be sparse, it has Australia’s highest skiable point – at 2,036 metres above sea level – and also has Australia’s steepest overall terrain. To top it all off, there’s a plethora of snow guns to ensure there’s snow for everyone.
Regardless of its title as the holder of Australia’s steepest terrain, Thredbo has a great mix of runs for all levels, with about 16% for beginners, a similar percentage of advanced runs (check out Funnel Web if you’ve got a bit of dare devil in you. It’s an ungroomed, mogul covered and at times almost vertical stretch that will get the heart and body pumping). And then the remaining 67% of the field caters for the intermediate level skier/boarder with long, wide runs such as Playground and Ballroom.
Thredbo apres ski
At the base of the mountain, the village has an array of bars, restaurants, shops and activities to keep everyone entertained. Climb the wall or ride the waterslide at the Thredbo Leisure Centre, or for a more sedate option, grab a fondue at Candlelight Lodge. And not for the faint hearted, the Thredbo Alpine Hotel hosts hot pool parties, so you can submerge yourself in front of the fire armed with a hot cider. Come Saturday, kick back and enjoy the skiers flare run and fireworks display that has become a Thredbo tradition.
Destination Melbourne pitstop, with a street art fiesta
Heading towards Melbourne, make sure to stretch your legs at (or even stay the night) at Benalla. A Benalla Street Walking Tour will lead you through the streets and lanes to see the colourful street art that has been accumulating with the annual Wall to Wall Festival. Works have been created by artists such as Rone, Kaff-eine, Guido van Heltenand and there’s even a work over three stories high by Adnate that has been voted the 8th best piece of street art – in the world.
After all that walking make sure you duck into Benalla Gallery Cafe, with it’s balcony overlooking the Benalla River. The coffee is great, as are their antipasti plates and if you haven’t got enough blood circulating then you can explore the Botanic Gardens, or peruse the art gallery.
Another opportunity to jump out of the car again is Mt Wombat lookout about 5 and a bit hours from Thredbo. Not only will you get rid of the sleepy driving feeling if you park half way up and walk to the summit, but you’ll get wonderful 360 degree views of great Victoria landscape, including both the Waranga Basin and Goulburn Weir at Nagambie.
Cheeky glass on the home stretch
When you’re only 130k’s from Melbourne, the enormity of the drive disappears and your focus is really on what a great snow holiday you’ve had. Give yourself one last treat before unpacking your ski gear and stop in at Fowles Wine Cellar Door Cafe in Avenel. Quaff a glass of their finest or simply taste them and buy a bottle for when you are home. There are antipasti platters, light or slightly less light lunches with ingredients picked fresh from their garden, good coffee (essential at this point in the drive) and yet more sweet indulgences lined up - just to befuddle you. Go on, have two!