Snow is never the first image that comes to mind when we think of Australia. Typically characterised by its scorching summers, visitors to Australia especially are often surprised to hear that Australia has mountains at all —“but it’s just flat isn’t it, and the snow would all melt?”
But as we move towards Australia’s perfectly respectable winter, we at Outdoria think it is high time that way of thinking changed. No longer shall Australia be thought of as ‘the scorched earth’, but rather, a perfectly balanced seasonal destination (that just happens to consist of mostly uninhabitable desert).
Skiing and snow related activities are practiced in four states (that’s a majority people) with three containing resorts that cater to a range of snow related fun. Check out our (by no means exhaustive list) of hot (but cold) ski & snowboard destinations you should definitely hit up this winter!
Where to Ski and Snowboard in Tasmania
There are two main snow destinations in Australia’s southernmost state (no we are not referring to New Zealand); Mt. Field National Park and Ben Lomond National Park.
Mt. Mawson, Mt Field National Park
Highest Point (Summit): 1,320m
Elevation of Ski field: 1,250m
Number of lifts: 4 (3 tow ropes, 1 lift)
Dist. from Hobart: 89km
Dist. from Launceston: 232km
Located conveniently within 1.5 hours drive from Hobart, Mt. Field National Park should be on your list not only for the skiing, but quite simply because it is just so gosh darn beautiful. You won’t be short of activities here as it is equally stunning all year round and a popular hiking and camping destination. With flora and fauna to fit the scene, get you binoculars out and go birding (birdwatching) while you’re at it.
Skiing areas on Mt. Mawson are located at an elevation of around about 1,250m above sea level, and while facilities are fairly basic, they cater to all levels of skiing. Popular among families due to its convenient location, Mt. Mawson is a go-to for weekend trips from Hobart, or even from further afield as it’s not too far to jump on the ferry and hit the slopes on a long weekend.
Things to do: Skiing, snowboarding, x-country skiing, tobogganing, snow ball fights/snow men, wildlife watching, hiking.
Ben Lomond National Park
Highest Point (Summit Legges Tor): 1,572m
Highest Elevation of Ski field: 1570m
Number of lifts: 3 T-bars, 4 Poma lifts
Dist. from Launceston: 60km
Tasmania’s premier ski resort is situated roughly an hour from Launceston and just over three hours from Hobart making it another awesome choice of weekend ski destination.
The village road reaches the highest elevation of any in Tasmania finishing up at around 1,460 metres!
With a greater diversity in terms of skiing facilities than Mt. Mawson, what Ben lacks in beauty (just kidding, it’s stunning) he makes up for in utility. Cross country skiing is popular here to the wide open terrain and there is a greater range of lift options including T-bars and pomas. Make sure the tank is full before you head up to the car park because there are gas stations that high up!
Things to do: x-country skiing, skiing, snowboarding, snow related fun, tobogganing, wildlife watching, hiking.
Skiing & Snowboarding in Victoria
With the highest concentration of snow fields of any of the other three states, Victoria will leave you scratching your head trying to work out which mountain to conquer first. Here’s just a few to get you thinking….
Highest Point (Summit): 1,433
Skiable Area: 2400ha
Dist. from Melbourne: 120km
Dist. from Marysville: 22km
Being the closest resort to Melbourne at under two hour’s drive away, Lake Mountain is hugely popular especially with families who want to take the kids out to experience the snow for the first time.
The emphasis at Lake Mountain is definitely on beginner – intermediate skiers and boarders, but also on x-country skiing due to the relatively shallow gradient of some of the slopes. Kids are catered for in a big way with a great ski school operation and even alternative activities such as laser skirmishes (we’re there!).
Things to do: x-country skiing, skiing & snowboarding, snow fun, laser skirmishes
Ski Season: starts June 11, 2016
Lift run times: 8.30am – 5.00pm (depending on lift and weather conditions)
Highest Point (Summit): 1,862m
Elevation of Ski village: 1,750m
Number of lifts: 10 Chairs, 1 T-bar, 1 Poma, 2 Magic Carpets
Dist. from Melbourne: 357km
Image supplied courtesy of Mount Hotham Alpine Resort
In Victoria’s Alpine North East lies Mt. Hotham. Surrounded by some of the state’s most beautiful countryside, Mt. Hotham is a destination to try for those seeking something a little different. With a history rich in X-Country skiing, Mt. Hotham offers a huge range of activities to the budding snow goer. Skiing supposedly first began when miners in the late 1800’s as a means of getting between local villages.
These days Hotham is a full-functioning skier’s paradise, complete with ski school, snow patrol, all the usual hiring and dining facilities, and both on and off mount accommodation. The runs here range from beginner right up to advanced, so there is something for everyone. But, Hotham is also home to one of Australia’s most difficult runs, ‘Mary’s Slide.’
Things to do: skiing & snowboarding, terrain parks (freestyle skiing/boarding), X-country skiing, snow fun, tobogganing, sight-seeing.
Ski Season: Starts June 11, 2016
Lift run times: 8.30am – 5.00pm (subject to weather & lift type)
Highest Point (Summit): 1,805m
Number of lifts: 22
Dist. from Melbourne: 208km
Image by Andrew Railton, supplied courtesy of Mt Buller Alpine Resort
With the most extensive lift network of any ski resort in Victoria, Mt. Buller is capable of facilitating 40,000 people per hour and is host to the Victorian Snowsports championships annually which draws over 3000 competitors to its slopes.
Buller is close enough to the big smoke (around 3 hours’ drive) that it has become a popular weekend destination for Melbournians. If you get up early enough, you can even get a days’ skiing in and be back home for dinner.
Catering to a range of ability levels from beginners up to advanced snow enthusiasts, off-piste options are also there for advanced skiers. Buller us truly a resort in every way, complete with the cinema, spa treatment facilities, gymnasium, museum, and sports hall. You’ll never be bored at Mt. Buller, even if the weather takes a turn and it’s impossible to ski that day.
Things to do: Skiing & snowboarding, x-country skiing, snow fun, sightseeing, terrain park (freestyle), spa treatments, indoor sports, off-piste (back country skiing).
Ski Season: Starts June 11, 2016
Lift run times: 8.30am – 7.00pm (depending on weather and lift type)
Highest Point (Summit): 1,842m
Elevation of Village: 1,600m
Number of lifts: 15
Dist. from Melbourne: 350km
Image by Chris Hocking, supplied courtesy of Falls Creek Ski Lifts Pty Ltd.
With 60% of runs falling into the intermediate bracket, Falls Creek offers a huge range of options to those skiers who have mastered the beginner slopes, and want to start riding their edges. Falls Creek also has the most extensive snow park options of any resort in Victoria and therefore can’t be missed if you are into catching some Alpine air time.
Things to do: skiing & snowboarding, x-country skiing, terrain parks (freestyle), sight-seeing, snow fun, tobogganing.
Alpine Destinations in the Australian Capital Territory
ACT isn’t just home to Australia’s Parliament, you'll discover some truly beautiful alpine terrain as well. While it no longer has any operating ski fields, there is plenty of winter action to be had.
Mount Franklin, Bimberi Nature Reserve
Bimberi Nature Reserve, Mt. Franklin.
Highest Point (Summit): 1,646m
Number of lifts: 0
Dist. from Canberra: 74.1km
Out honorary ACT mention. Until 2003 Mt. Franklin, which lies within the Bimberi nature reserve, was home to a ski chalet that was predominately used by the Canberra Alpine Club. The Canberra bushfires tragically destroyed the chalet and it was replaced by a new shelter in 2008, which was designed by students from the University of Adelaide. The mountain is best suited to x-country skiing as there are no lifts or resort facilities on the slopes.
Things to do: x-country skiing, sight-seeing, hiking, wildlife watching
Alpine Adventures in New South Wales
Although it is the northernmost territory within which you can ski, NSW certainly isn’t the state with the least options available to you. Home to the southern hemisphere’s largest Alpine resort, NSW truly caters to every skier imaginable. Are your bags packed?
Thredbo, Kosciuszko National Park
Ski Season: Starts June 10, 2016
Lift run times: 9.00am – 4.00pm (depending on weather & lift type)
Highest Point (Summit): 2037m
Base Elevation: 1365m
Number of lifts: 14
Dist. from Sydney: 500km
Images supplied courtesy of Thredbo Alpine Village
Situated within NSW’s glorious Kosciuszko National Park, Thredbo Alpine Resort offers some of the most diverse terrain within driving distance of Sydney. With the vast majority of trails catering towards the intermediate level snow goer, Thredbo is your destination for brushing up with a lesson and taking your skills to the next level. That’s not to say that there isn’t something for everyone with beginner and advanced trails sitting at around 16 & 17 per cent the total runs respectively.
There is even a warm indoor sports centre complete with gymnasium, indoor pool, squash courts and more, so if you feel like mixing it up for a few hours, you can do just that.
Things to do: Skiing & snowboarding, back country skiing, x-country skiing, snow fun, kids play area, terrain park (freestyle), leisure centre, sight-seeing.
Highest Point: 1,837m
Elevation of resort: 1,765m
Number of lifts: 5 (1 triple chair, 2 pomas, 1 T-bar, 1, magic carpet)
Dist. from Sydney: 488km
Dist. from Canberra: 215km
Image supplied courtesy of Charlotte Pass Snow Resort
The resort at Charlottes pass is situated at the highest point of any in Australia. Naturally, this leads to consistently good snow fall due to its altitude. While it might be a small field in comparison to some of its other Kosciuszko neighbours, what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality.
Charlotte pass has everything you will need for a fantastic time on the slopes: fine tune your skills with a lesson, chill out in the café between runs, and if you don’t have your own, hire gear on the mountain when you arrive.
Charlotte Pass the perfect x-country skiing destination due to its easy access to high altitude terrain.
Why not try a snowshoe tour and experience some of the best views from one of the highest points in Australia?
Things to do: Skiing & snowboarding, x-country skiing, snow fun, snowshoeing, sightseeing, terrain park.
Lift run times: 9.00am – 5.00pm (subject to weather & lift type)
Highest Point (Mt. Perisher Summit): 2,054m
Elevation of Ski field (Perisher Valley): 1,720m
Number of lifts: 47
Dist. from Sydney: 479km
Dist. from Canberra Airport: 207km
Image supplied courtesy of Perisher Ski Resort
Don’t let the name intimidate you, the only thing perishing around here is your insistent belief that winter is dull and boring.
The largest Alpine Resort in the southern Hemisphere, Perisher is a snow sport mecca. Nestled close to the border of ACT (they could almost claim this one) it’s actually quicker to travel to Perisher by car from Canberra airport (around 2.5 hours) than Sydney (around 5.5 - 6 hours).
There are seven different peaks to explore in Perisher, each with their own variable runs, villages, hiring facilities, dining options and accommodation. Be careful you might just get lost in Perisher – and that’s without even stepping into a pair of ski boots.
Things to do: Skiing & snowboarding, x-country skiing, terrain parks (Freestyle), Tube Town (specifically designed for snow tubing & tobogganing), night skiing & boarding (all season on Tuesdays & on Saturday during July and August), sight-seeing.
There is so much snow fun to be had in Australia, get into gear and get out there and experience Alpine Australia this coming winter!