MAKE the most of the cold weather and hit the slopes with our guide to Victoria’s best ski spots, including Falls Creek, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Mt Baw Baw. Tracy Pham has more.
There is something magical about snowfall. It makes the child in all of us want to make adult-sized snow angels and put our physical endurance to the limit by tackling greater gradients on every ski adventure.
You can drive or catch public transport to Victoria’s snowfields. Most of our alpine resorts lie to the north-east of Melbourne. Here are some of the state’s best to help you start planning your great snow getaway:
1. Falls Creek
Falls Creek is the prettiest alpine village in Victoria. The slopes are pedestrian-traffic only and you can ski all the way from top to bottom. The resort has 28 bars and restaurants and is an easy mountain that’s perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers.
There are a number of ways to get to Falls Creek. By car, it’s about a five-hour drive from Melbourne. Otherwise, catch the V-line from Southern Cross Station to Albury and then get the coach from there to Falls Creek. You can also organise a coach service directly to the door of your accommodation, just remember to ask when you book your hotel.
Accommodation at Falls Creek ranges from the very high end to traditional ski lodges and self contained apartments. For a good deal on accommodation check out Koki Alpine Resort,Trackers Mountain Lodge or Feathertop Lodge.
For a day’s lift pass, you can expect to pay about $42 before 1pm and $20 after that. It’s cheaper to buy your pass online. If you’re thinking of visiting Falls Creek eight or more time during the snow season, consider getting a Season Entry Pass for $310.
2. Mt Buller
At only 248km north east of Melbourne (about a three-hour drive), Mt Buller is the most accessible snow resort from the city. That makes it hugely popular with the weekend crowd though, so expect plenty of company on the slopes.
Mt Buller Bus Lines and the V-Line Snow Coach offer regular bus services from Melbourne. Buses depart from the National Gallery of Victoria on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
When you arrive at Mt Buller, you can either jump on a free shuttle bus (for day visitors) to the village centre or take a 4WD taxi (for people staying overnight or those with luggage) and head straight to your accommodation.
Mt Buller Village is situated picturesquely at the heart of the mountain, offering ski-in, ski-out accommodation and a huge range of bars and restaurants.For a bargain, Buller Backpackers and Benmore Ski Club have great student accommodation.
Daily lift passes are $88. For $145 you can get your lift pass and hire skis and snow suits and boots. Students get a 50 per cent discount on lift passes on Tuesdays and 20 per cent off the rest of the week, so be sure to bring your uni card.
If this is your first time on skis or a board, you can also take advantage of the free beginner lesson that’s included in the cost of your lift ticket. Just ask for a Discover Skiing or Boarding package at the ticket office or any Buller Sports outlet.
3. Mt Hotham
Located approximately 357km from Melbourne, Mt Hotham is Victoria’s highest alpine resort, perched on a ridge line one hour up the hill from Bright. You can ski, snowboard, cross country ski or bush walk. Otherwise, you can just enjoy the beautiful scenery, magnificent views and great meals in warm cosy settings in one of the resort’s many restaurants, cafes or pubs.
You can fly direct to Hotham Airport with QantasLink or drive direct by following the Great Alpine Rd. Ensure you make plenty of stops along the way and enjoy all the gourmet produce and wine North East Victoria has to offer. Otherwise, Alpine Spirit Coach travels between Melbourne to Mt Hotham from $64 per person. Hotham Bus offers one way transfers for $53. Also check Snowball Express for their daily service.
A lift pass at Mt Hotham will cost you just under $92 a day, but if you visit on the weekend, you can ski on Saturday and Sunday for $199. Full-time uni students get 50 per cent off lift passes on Fridays.
Mt Hotham is unusual in that the main highway runs through the resort. You approach this resort either from the north – the top of the mountain – or from the south – the bottom of the mountain. It’s generally considered that the south road from Omeo is the much safer road.
4. Mt Baw Baw
Mt Baw Baw is only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne. V-line train services run from Melbourne’s Southern Cross and Flinders St stations regularly. The train will leave you at Warragul Station where you can catch a bus to Mt Baw Baw Baw. The Mt Baw Baw bus also offers services from Melbourne Airport or City Express.
Daily lift passes for student are $50 mid-week and $75 on the weekend.
Safe, sheltered ski runs, enthusiastic instructors and cheap lessons make Mt Baw Baw a great place to learn to ski. With more than 35 hectares of groomed runs, seven ski lifts, two snow play areas, 10km of groomed cross-country ski trails and unlimited terrain among the snow gums, there’s plenty of room to practise without bumping into anyone.
To make the most of your snow holiday, it’s a good idea to get at least one lesson.
If you’re a serious skier, consider buying an All Resorts Pass, which gives you season-long access to Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Mt Buller, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Stirling and Lake Mountain for $604. You can buy the pass from any of the participating resorts.