With almost a metre of snowfall in the last week all resort are set to open on-time, early, or are already spinning chairs and creating hoots and smiles across the Vic Alps for Season 2019. The question now is…Which resort to choose?
For most a trip to the snow may only happen once a season. School holidays and the entire month of August prove the most popular (and expensive) time to go. An early season getaway might allow you to get up for a slide twice (or more) this season. Let’s take a look at what is on offer NOW in Victoria’s Winter Wonderlands.
For most, a day trip will do the trick. From Melbourne, Mt Buller is the obvious choice. If large crowds are not your thing I would suggest chucking a “Snowie” and heading up midweek. If weekends are the only option leave Melbourne early, like…5am early. Parking is very limited and getting to the mountain for first chair gets you up on the mountain-proper before having to battle the sightseeing crowds.
Ski or Board hard until lunchtime then if you are feeling motivated head out for a few more power laps or just cut and run at 2pm beating the traffic back home.
With lift tickets from as low as $66 (pre-booked), getting a group up for a day of fun close to home is both easy and affordable. Resort entry (parking) is a separate fee payable at the base of the mountain. Mt Buller has just opened their brand new $6m, 6-seater Bourke St Express Chairlift. Mt Buller is home to the most modern lift network in Australia with a system of 22 lifts and over 300 hectares of terrain.
While day trips are not for the faint-hearted they are certainly possible from Melbourne to Falls Creek or Mt Hotham. Probably only if you have multiple drivers. A much safer option (if staying on mountain is not in your budget) is staying either the night before or after a ski day in Bright. Options like the Alpine Hotel right in the middle of town have rooms with multiple beds so you can bring the cost per person right down.
Mt Hotham has spectaculars view to Mt Feathertop and the Razorback Ridge with Mt Bogong visible beyond. The terrain is distinctly separated between beginner and everyone else. This has its pros and cons. If you are new to the snow there is little risk that you will inadvertently find yourself in terrain you can’t handle. The Summit and Big D areas are were you can learn your turns (or even just how to stop) with fantastic instructors from around the world making it a fun and rewarding experience to see your improvements throughout the day (lessons can be booked at http://www.mthotham.com.au).
If you are experienced or looking for a challenge the Heavenly Valley area has many option from cruisy Blue runs to steep ridge drops, trees, bowls, and natural half pipes. Each lap bring new discoveries and another “favourite run” without having to dodge beginners all day.
When conditions allow, Hotham has a Double Black Diamond “Extreme Zone”. Entry into this area is by gates which open and close depending on conditions. Here you will find some of Australia’s most technical in-bounds terrain with cliffs, creeks, bridges, and lots of trees.
The drive up to Hotham can be the most spectacular drive of your life or the most terrifying. It goes without saying that chains should be fitted where directed, but with tight reverse-cambering corners, limited visibility, and high winds, the last 10km can very very slow.
Midweek Magic comes to Hotham this season with a 3-day lift pass valid for Tues-Wed-Thur for the price of 2 days.
This doesn’t include resort entry.
Another 16km beyond Hotham Central is the delightful alpine village of Dinner Plain. Offering a small beginner and snow play area, DP (as it is referred to) is a great place to take the kids to get them into the snow.
DP has great hotels or a feed or to wet the whistle and is home to the Onsen Retreat
and Spa to relax and rejuvenate those sore aching muscles.
Falls Creek is all thing to all snow-goers. The terrain changes gradually from beginner areas like Wombat’s Ramble and Drovers Dream across to Blue runs like Highway 83. Looking for steeper terrain? Head across to the Summit area (accessed by a green traverse trail into the Village Bowl). From the top of the Summit the views of the Spion Kopje and Mt Bogong are contrasted beautifully by the lush green of the Kiewa Valley below.
For those wanting to get into the Park, Falls Creek is your progression playground. Panorama Park offers features to get you started and progress to medium levels with views to Rocky Valley Lake below. Once the confidence is high enough, make your way to Ruined Castle for the next step into large feature including world class X-Games level XXL jumps.
Falls Creek has world-class Cross Country trails. Make your way up Mt McKay or head out to
Pretty Valley Pondage and enjoy the quiet side of the Victorian Alps. Start from Windy Corner – great place to park and get your hire gear from the Nordic Ski centre.
The Village of Falls Creek is all ski-in, ski-out and has shuttles taking passengers up and down the snow-covered streets making it so easy to get around. There are also long raised staircases between streets making it easy to walk around with the snow is making things slick underfoot.
The road to Falls Creek is a much easier drive than Mt Hotham if the roads are snowy and icy. Snow only usually affects the last 10km and the road is sheltered by trees.
Wherever you choose to go, get out there and make the most of the best season opening since 2000!