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The best Aussie snow for families

The best Aussie snow for families

Where are the best places in Australia to take the kids skiing? Ask this question out loud and you'll find everyone has an opinion. Perisher v Thredbo? NSW v Victorian Alps? The choices are greater, and more complicated, than you might think.

When planning this year's trip I didn't have an opinion and we decided to try out a few resorts to form one. The next time someone asks that question I'm prepared to weigh in!

We experienced Falls Creek, Charlotte Pass and Perisher. Three very different resorts; let our experiences help you pick the best one for you and your brood.

Falls Creek

Depending on where you live, Falls Creek is possibly the furthest away for most East Coast urbanites. The last few kilometres of the drive from Sydney wind through beautiful alpine forest up and over the snow line (which is no good for car-sick-prone kiddies — take precautions). A better option is to park at Mt Beauty and take the shuttle bus.

All the accommodation here is a short ski to the nearest chairlift, which means you get more time on the slopes without having to get up at the crack of dawn to commute, laden with heavy equipment.

A chairlift takes you from your hotel to Cloud Nine — home of the Snowsports School and SnowClub For Kids, and gateway to dozens of green and blue runs. They seem to cater for 100s of kids without appearing crowded.

The kids' facilities are great, with a huge beginner terrain park on the Drovers Dream run — itself a fantastic, long green — an ideal place for kids to practice and build their confidence. From here, you can work your way along the mountain through Highway 83 and Scotty's Runs to Ruined Castle and the dark blue and black runs beyond.

If you're after something a bit more challenging then head for the black runs on the other side of the resort on the Summit; there are plenty.

Best part of this village-atmos destination? No queues. Seriously. Not one.

There are still heaps of deals available, and plenty of snow still falling.

My top picks for family accommodation:

  • Falls Creek Hotel: This cosy property has a great view of the Village Square, 4-course dinners and cooked breakfasts usually included in a package.
  • Trackers: A lovely family-run hotel with kids club and separate (earlier) dinner time for littlies, who are then babysat by the in-house nanny while you enjoy a gourmet degustation dinner. Bliss!

Charlotte Pass

Another windy alpine drive takes us through the mountains to the NSW resorts (again, be prepared for car-sick kids). Its a spectacular drive through lush forest before the snow line as you cross the Great Dividing Range at about 1680m.

Charlotte Pass is the highest resort in Australia, and is only accessible by oversnow transport from Perisher Valley, so the best option is to park (for free) at Bullocks Flat and ride the Ski Tube up to Perisher.

It has a feeling of exclusivity being so cut-off from the outside world. Our accommodation here is in the historic Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel. Built in 1938, it has that real old-school ski-lodge feel to it, with grand open fireplaces and a tuxedo-clad pianist in the aprés-ski bar.

It's also a small resort, which had its advantages when skiing with kids. With wide open green and blue runs a short skid away from the hotel, you can more or less give them the run of the mountain without fear of them getting lost (just declare the awesome black runs out of bounds).

Although the resort's small, it has some great high speed runs through the trees; with fresh powder it's got plenty to satisfy adrenaline junkies, too. And we didn't wait in a single lift queue.

There are still some great package deals to be found here this winter — and in September kids stay, eat and ski free.

Perisher

Perisher is a different kettle of wombats altogether. If you're at all familiar with Australian ski resorts you'll know that Perisher is massive. So what it lacks in village atmosphere and an exclusive environment, it makes up for with variety, options and technology.

While possible to stay on the mountain at Perisher, we chose to stay at the Lake Crackenback Resort and commute. Their large 3-bedroom self-catered apartments are ideal for larger families (making it a lot cheaper for us to feed the hordes).

There are also plenty of activities for those days when conditions are better below the snow line. Mountain biking, hiking, horse riding and even Segway tours. Segways are strange looking vehicles but surprisingly easy (and fun) to manoeuvre through bumpy terrain if you want to go wombat spotting.

At first it seems fairly easy to get lost at Perisher, which now encompasses Guthega, Blue Cow and Smiggins. But luckily I have a partner/guide who makes it his mission to tick-off every lift on the map on day one, ostensibly to show me how to find my own way 'round the mountain (and he can tick off all the black runs while I tackle the blues and practise parallel turns).

Being a lover of apps and the use technology for the greater good, I loved the Perisher iPhone app and the My Ride ticketing system. Instead of a laminated ticket attached to your zip Perisher now issues you with a smart card which is scanned automatically at the turnstiles of each lift. And a clever little card it is, too; it keeps track of the lifts you ride (and the vertical metres you cover) so you can login in to the website at day's end to compare stats.

There are loads of September school holiday deals, and a huge range of accommodation options both on and off the mountain for budgets and families of all sizes.

So which resort is the best for families? It's a personal choice, really. Falls Creek for that village atmosphere; Charlotte Pass for an intimate mountain retreat; and Perisher for expansive terrain and cool technology. I liked them all!

For information on all Aussie ski resorts, the Snow Australia website is a really good resource. It's got video guides and links to all the resorts, snow reports, snow cams and the latest deals.

What's your opinion on Australia's best ski resort for families?

User comments
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