DON'T EAT YELLOW SNOW
When you think of Australia you think of golden sands, beaches and sunshine. What many non-Australians don’t know is that Australia has a fantastic snow industry that can rival other resort towns in the world.
The three brothers at the snow. Tyson, Brenden (99) and Kelvin
I have been making my way to the snow fields in New South Wales since I was a boy. Our school used to have an annual weekend away for any pupils that wanted to come (and could afford). At the time I did not consider how rough it must have been for the four teachers to look after 30 or so students, but nothing serious ever went wrong and it’s where I learned to ski.
These days, each time I snake my way across the southern Highlands on the way to the snow I think about those days. A good road trip from Sydney it takes about 5 or 6 hours via Canberra and Cooma. As you head south from Canberra, you can feel it start to get cold. There is a crisp chill in the air and the hairs on the arm get excited as they know soon you will be on the slopes.
A rest stop at Michelago on the way to the snow
When you hit Cooma you know you haven’t got long to go, and soon after you weave around the last bend, across a bridge and you can see ‘The Lake’. You have arrived at Lake Jindabyne. This is (usually) below the snow line and where most people stay when they visit. It’s a smallish town, which swells during the ski season from June to September. This snow town has a great nightlife, with many bars and pubs to enjoy a beer and exaggerate the tales from the daytime of boarding and skiing. Everything is more expensive in ‘Jindy’ but I like to eat at the bowling club, which has great bistro food at reasonable prices.
Lake Jindabyne from our Room
One of the bigger resorts to stay at is the station resort and has many lodges that you and your friends can rent. They also have a pub and large eatery on site. We have stayed at Hanna’s Hutte a number of times. It is a budget lodge that backpackers like, but they also have some private rooms for 4 or 5 people, and can work out to be quite good value for money.
This was not from our trip last season, but the weather can get rough on the way to the snowfields
Once you have checked in to your accommodation and have hired your gear (or brought your own if lucky enough) it’s time to hit the mountain. The snow can take about an hour to travel to and sometimes snow chains are required. There are a few different places you can visit. Thredbo, Perisher/Blue Cow and Charlotte’s Pass are the bigger ones. I like Blue Cow and sometimes Thredbo. They both have great black diamond runs, but can also cater to the less advanced. To get to Perisher/Blue Cow you can park your car below the snow line and catch the Ski Tube to the top or drive. The Ski Tube can be fun, and is a type of train that will take you to either resort.
The ticket price includes entry to the National Park and is not cheap at $33 per person. If you were to drive, you will need to pay $27 per car to enter the National Park and you may need to hire chains if you are not driving a 4 wheel drive.
Once you have arrived at one of the ski fields you will need to get lift passes. There are also quite expensive at over $100 per day. Once you have your pass you are good to go. I went down last season to spend some time with my brothers before heading off overseas. We drove to Thredbo and had some great weather. The sun was out every day and the crowds were not too bad. I am a skier while my brothers like to board. There is a bit of rivalry between boarders and skiiers and I did cop some flak for choosing to ski, but it is what I like to do and what I am best at.
We catch the Ramshead chair lift up as far as we can then onto the highest chairlift point in Australia. It is 2037 metres above sea level and we stop for a moment to take some pictures and soak in the view. It is not too far fromMount Kosciuszko. At 2228 metres it is the highest mountain in Australia. From this point we start our descent down the mountain. We are on the supertrail, which is 3.7 Km long and will take you all the way back to the valley terminal. Thredbo has such cool names for their runs and some of our favourites are the Funnel Web, the Cannon Ball, Little Beauty, Bushranger and the Golf Course Bowl. The area is quite large and there are plenty of options for all levels of skiers and boarders. Thredbo even has a few terrain parks where the more adventurous can attempt tricks. Some jumps, a bowl or two and wooden boxes to slide across. It can be a bit of fun and add to the excitement of the day.
It was a superb day on the ski slopes when we went
While we are there for the snow, you can forget just how beautiful this part of the country is. While on the chairlift there is plenty of time to look around at the natural wonderland and be astounded at how far you can see and how fresh and clean the air is.
Looking down the mountain at Thredbo, NSW Australia
Boarding and skiing all day take it out of you and for those that are not as fit as we could be, it can be physically hard on the body. Luckily there are plenty of places to stop and get a bite to eat and a beverage to cater to all tastes. Don’t expect to snag a bargain here though and set aside at least $15 for lunch and another $7 if you want to wash it down with a beer.
It is hard to put into words why there is such a large appeal to being at the snow. Perhaps it is mastering nature as you slide downhill? I am not sure, but I do know that you feel alive whilst skiing. Weaving from side to side, as you practise your style. Navigating your way past the less experienced or having a race to the bottom can get the adrenalin running.
Once the day has ended and you are back at your hotel, it is time to get changed, put your snow gear in a drying room and head off to drink copious amounts of alcohol. It’s tradition. Everyone is at the snow to have a good time and whilst here it is a good place to forget about the worries of day to day life and let your hair down.
The National Park deriving to Jindabyne from the ski fields
Before we knew it, our stay at Jindabyne has come to an end and we are headed back to Sydney. Not much talking going on as we are all tired and look forward to a bath and some shut eye.
When you add up the cost of the petrol, the snow gear, accommodation, food, National Park entry, lift passes and drinks it can quickly be an expensive couple of days, but you know what? It’s worth every penny.
A Thredbo trail map can be viewed and downloaded below