howling huskys at mt baw baw
Victoria’s snow season is fast approaching and 2017 promises to be another bumper year with a range of new activities, accommodation, events and amenities available for novices and seasoned snow-seekers alike.
Experienced skiers can test themselves with a one-on-one session with an elite ski coach at Mt Hotham, kids can try ice skating for the first time at Dinner Plain’s pop-up ice rink, and the whole family can enjoy a scenic helicopter flight over the ski fields and surrounding terrain of Falls Creek. Australia’s alpine hotspots certainly come to life during the snow season and there’s no easier place to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing and apres ski than in Victoria.
A firm favourite with families, Falls Creek has a wide variety of ways to get stuck into the snow action. Located 4.5 hours from Melbourne, Falls Creek’s remote, alpine location and large surface area of ski terrain ensures there’s something for everyone come snow season. From cross country skiing to snowboarding, snowshoeing, fat biking and more, there’s a snow activity to suit every age and ability at Falls Creek.
The Village Bowl Snowplay Zone is a winter wonderland designed to delight children with fun activities that go beyond the usual snowplay offering. One of the more popular activities, The Kids Snowmobile Park allows children above the age of five to snowmobile their way around a dedicated track complete with supervision and pre-ride safety instructions.
Fun for the whole family can be found by participating in a game of snow bocce at the Village Bowl. Groomed courts are available to take on friends and family for free, while serious competitors can enter the official competition to try their luck against others.
For a bird’s eye view of the area, a scenic flight over Falls Creek and surrounds aboard a helicopter offers a different perspective. Forest Air Helicopters offer a range of scenic flight options seven days a week during the snow season, ranging from affordable 10 minute flights to longer flights that cover more territory.
While the concept of snow biking might take some getting used to, it does provide an offbeat alternative for groups of friends who want to try something different after skiing or snowboarding. A unique way to get out onto the slopes, snow bikes can be hired for day or during night sessions at Falls Creek.
Where to stay:
Offering brand new apartments and suites for the 2017 ski season, Elk at Falls features Nordic-inspired interiors, hydronic heating, luxury linen and a central location that offers convenient access to the slopes. Found in the heart of Falls Creek Village, Astra Lodge is Australia’s newest luxury ski lodge. Made from locally sourced, eco-friendly tiles, timber, stone and leather, the simple yet stylish design of the lodge merges classic Australian elements with a touch of European flair. The onsite fine dining restaurant run by hatted chef Emma Handley provides guests with Italian fare and premium wines from the cellar. Open from June 2017, Astra Lodge is the newest jewel in Falls Creek’s crown. Or stay at designer resort QT Falls Creek, which has just been named Best Australian Ski Property, for the fifth consecutive year, but Luxury Travel magazine.
Only three hours’ drive from Melbourne, Mt Buller has 300 hectares of skiable terrain suitable for everyone from absolute beginners to ski legends. Visitors who are new to the sport will enjoy the wide, gentle slopes of Bourke St and Burnt Hut Spur while more experienced skiers will love taking on the more challenging black runs. Two toboggan parks provide ample space for adults and children to enjoy some tobogganing time. With more than 30 eateries and bars, Australia’s highest day spa and a large range of accommodation options at a variety of price points, Mt Buller has all the facilities and activities to guarantee a memorable ski break.
Skiing and snowboarding under the stars is possible at Mt Buller during July and August. Held on most Wednesdays and Saturdays (conditions permitting), twilight skiing and snowboarding is an out-of-the-ordinary way for guests to extend their time on the slopes (and catch a sunset at the same time).
The Snow Play in a Day Tour provides a great opportunity for guests to enjoy a range of snow activities in a day, including a snowshoe tour, scenic chairlift ride, village tour and tobogganing session.
Known as snowgaining, high altitude orienteering is an exciting way to enjoy the snow without strapping on skis or a snowboard. At Mt Buller, guests can explore the snowfields as a team, finding checkpoints along the way to complete the orienteering experience. A free activity for guests with a lift pass, snowgaining is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and a desire to challenge themselves.
Where to stay:
Considered one of Australia’s leading alpine resorts, Hotel Pension Grimus is a luxurious ski-in, ski-out option located only 50 metres from a main chairlift. Featuring a restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee bar, spa, sauna, plunge pool and guest lounge, this classic boutique hotel is reminiscent of upscale ski lodges found in the European Alps. Couples, groups of friends and families alike will all enjoy the vintage feel and relaxed vibe of the Alpine Retreat Mt Buller. Bunk rooms and apartments make this accommodation option a great one for travelling families and groups, while the on-site bar, restaurant and games room provides guests with refreshments and entertainment without having to leave the hotel.
Only 2.5 hours from Melbourne, family-friendly Mt Baw Baw is the closest downhill ski resort to the city centre. With terrain for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders, low key Mt Baw Baw is a top choice for snow lovers from all walks of life.
After carving up the slopes, guests can change the pace and enjoy a dogsled ride with the team from Howling Huskys. Running from June to August, the dogsled runs range from half hour dashes through the snow to longer back country tours and night tours that include wine and hot chocolate.
Skiers and snowboarders can rest their tired muscles and aching bones in the Rock Pool Spa after a long day on the powder. Set in bushland and surrounded by granite boulders and gum trees, the Rock Pool Spa is an in-demand hotspot for guests keen to relax amidst picturesque surrounds.
Running from July 3-9, Mt Baw Baw celebrates Christmas in July with a range of festive activities suitable for the whole family. Visitors can toast marshmallows, enjoy a traditional Christmas feast, build snowmen and more, just like the people of the northern hemisphere do during the Christmas season.
Where to stay:
Tanjil Creek Lodge is a contemporary lodge located at the base of the slopes. Providing easy access to the powder, this accommodation option is ideally suited to travelling groups and families. With a wood fire and hydronic heating, Apartment 2 is a cosy retreat that sleeps up to ten guests. Featuring satellite television and complimentary toboggans, Apartment 2 has everything needed for a good time – inside and out.
Featuring 37km of ski trails, 4 toboggan slopes, a dedicated snowman park and a 240m flying fox, locals have been skiing Lake Mountain since the 1930s. Only 120km from Melbourne, Lake Mountain can be an easy day trip. Its down-to-earth, friendly vibe makes it a favourite with families and visitors who appreciate a more relaxed approach to the ski season.
Open from 9am-4pm each day during the ski season, the Fischer Nordic Fun Park gives children under 12 a safe space to learn how to ski. Lessons include access to brand new ski gear and expert instruction from experienced, friendly instructors.
The Burton Riglet Park is dedicated to helping small children from the ages of 3-6 learn how to snowboard in a controlled environment. Short, 30 minute lessons allow small kids to engage in the sport in a safe way without getting overwhelmed.
Four toboggan runs ensure a variety of groomed and ungroomed terrain is available for guests who love tobogganing. The Village toboggan run’s moderate grade makes it popular with families while the bumps and dips of the steeper Koala Creek run make it a favourite with teens and adults.
Where to stay:
Nearby, the small town of Marysville has a range of accommodation options including family-owned and run bed and breakfasts, caravan parks and contemporary hotels. Newcomer Vibe Hotel Marysville offers many stylish room types suitable for singles, couples, families and groups as well as an onsite restaurant, bar and room service. Ideally suited to couples, Marysville Garden Cottages are a quaint option for visitors to relax in a cosy spot filled with charm. Features like stained glass windows, claw foot baths, and gas log fires gives the cottages a warm, inviting feel.
Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and tobogganing are all on the agenda at Mt Hotham. As one of Victoria’s most well-known snow resorts, Mt Hotham is a destination synonymous with fun. Open from June 10-October 1 in 2017, Hotham’s snow season is characterised by 320 hectares of ski terrain, 13 lifts, 35km of cross country skiing and a huge variety of restaurants, bars, day spas and retail outlets. Located only 13km from Mt Hotham, resort entry fees do not apply to neighbouring Dinner Plain, making it a great option for budget conscious families looking to take advantage of the wide open spaces, chilled out vibe and child-friendly activities on offer.
Snowtubing at Dinner Plain’s Snow Park is a family-friend activity loved by locals and visitors alike. Flying down the groomed tubing lane is possible both day and night and is a great way to introduce smaller family members to the snow.
Running a range of clinics and programs for snow enthusiasts of all ages and abilities, the Hotham Snowsports Centre provides top notch advice and instruction during the winter months. From advanced masterclasses taught by elite coaches to specialty programs for children, Hotham is the spot for visitors to invest some time in refining their snow skills.
Guests who have never skied or snowboarded before have a chance to learn no matter what their age at Mt Hotham’s Brand New Day ski program. Held on June 24, 2017 this five hour group session aims to assist newbies with learning the basics in a fun, relaxed environment. The experience includes a lift pass, five hour group lesson, equipment hire, lunch and refreshments.
In 2017 pop up ice-skating puts Dinner Plain on the map during the month of July. Available for a limited time only, tickets to the pop up rink include skate hire. Suitable for children who are new to skating and ice skating pros, the rink is open on select days during July so visitors are encouraged to time their visit wisely if they fancy a spin around the rink.
Where to stay:
Located right next to the Village chairlift, Caravaggio chalet is an exclusive accommodation option that can accommodate up to 13 guests. The three level chalet features a modern kitchen, wood combustion fireplace, laundry and balcony opening up to some of the most coveted views of the area. Nestled in the heart of Hotham, Zirky’s ski-in, ski-out apartment complex has options suitable for everyone from couples to large groups. Well equipped with modern appliances and luxurious soft furnishings, Zirky’s in-house bar, café and bistro provides guests with a range of convenient dining options.