Best Ski Resorts in Australia
10 Jun 2021
10 Jun 2021
It’s official. The snow is starting to fall and the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend is coming up which can only mean one thing - the Australian ski season is about to start.
With COVID-19 putting a pause on the 2020 snow season, there is bound to be a rush of passionate snow-starved and future snowsports lovers travelling up to the high plains in season 2021. Whether you're a seasoned visitor to the Aussie Alps or looking to book that first snow trip, it’s time to start planning your trip to the snow.
To help you decide which resort to visit, we've put together a list of the best ski resorts in Australia and a quick run-down on what they all offer, and what you need to plan for, so you can get the most out of your holiday.
One of Australia’s top ski destinations, Thredbo Alpine Resort is a stunning little village set in the Kosciuszko Alpine National Park. The resort has one of Australia’s longest ski runs and largest beginner areas so it’s well suited to all ability levels from beginners to advanced riders. The village and Thredbo accommodation have a luxurious feel with a renowned Apres ski and restaurant scene, reminiscent of the European resorts from which the original founders came. If you want to experience one of the best ski and snowboarding experiences in Australia, Thredbo is a good place to start.
Location: 5.5 hours drive from Sydney.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 16%, Intermediate 67%, Advanced 17%
Children's Program: Yes - Thredboland and kid's program.
Facilities: Thredbo has a range of bars, restaurants, cafes, mini supermarket, retail shops, pharmacy, medical centre, a post office and a full recreation/leisure centre (swimming pool, gym, yoga and pilates classes).
Activities: Ski & snowboard lessons (adults & children’s), sightseeing gondola rides, Saturday night fireworks spectacular, snowshoeing, tobogganing area, terrain parks, alpine bungee trampoline, flare run for kids, high alpine sunrise sessions, massage, day spas, backcountry access and guided tours, snowcat tours and gourmet on-mountain dining experiences.
Regarded by many as Australia’s most popular ski resort, Perisher Alpine Resort is actually an amalgamation of 4 resorts: Perisher Valley, Guthega, Blue Cow and Smiggens Holes. There is very limited on-mountain accommodation throughout Perisher with most families staying in nearby Jindabyne and taking the ‘ski-tube’ train to get to the slopes each day - which is actually a well-oiled system and easy to use. Accessing Jindabyne by car is simple as it rarely receives heavy snowfall, and because it is a fully established town it is much easier and cheaper to eat out and cater to the family's needs on their ski holiday. Because of this, on-mountain facilities in Perisher are geared toward serving the average day-tripper; with cafes, lunch restaurants and a few retail shops.
Location: 5.5 hours drive from Sydney.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 22%, Intermediate 60%, Advanced 18%
Children's Program: Yes
Facilities: Medical centre, pharmacy, mini-supermarket, cafes, restaurants and retail shops for day-trippers. However, the nearby town of Jindabyne has a full offering of amenities.
Activities: Ski & snowboard lessons (adults & children’s), terrain parks, freestyle skiing and snowboarding development programs, disabled and adaptive snowsports program and child care/babysitting service.
A true high-country experience, Charlotte Pass Snow Resort is the highest resort in Australia and only accessible via oversnow transport. It’s almost entirely ski-in ski-out and the resort rarely experiences crowds or line-ups. The people that frequent Charlotte Pass are loyal and passionate about their beloved resort which makes the atmosphere very unique. There is a variety of on-mountain accommodation in Charlotte Pass, but if you miss out on that, you can stay in Jindabyne and do some day trips. Beginner skiers and boarders will appreciate the gentle terrain and while the resort also has a nice balance of intermediate and advanced runs, Charlotte Pass is much smaller than nearby Perisher and Thredbo.
Location: 6-hour drive from Sydney. You will need to book oversnow transportation from the overnight parking areas.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 33%, Intermediate 29%, Advanced 38%
Children's Program: Yes - Kosi Kids.
Facilities: There are a few on-mountain cafes, restaurants and a medical centre however the nearby town of Jindabyne has a full offering of amenities.
Activities: Ski & snowboard lessons (adults & children).
Commonly regarded as one of the best alpine skiing experiences and the ‘powder capital’ of Australia, Hotham Alpine Resort is the highest resort in Victoria and offers spectacular 360-degree panoramic views from its highest lifted point, The Summit, which is a green run - accessible by everyone. Intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders will be at home here with a huge selection of terrain including a backcountry program for anyone who prefers to hike and earn their turns. The resort village is situated just shy of the summit and offers a diverse range of restaurants, cafes and retail shopping experiences. When you stay at the resort you need to drive to your accommodation in Mt Hotham, unload your gear, and then park your car down at the overnight parking lots. There is a free bus service for getting around at the expansive resort and lots to see and do for sightseeing snow-tourists.
Location: 4.5 hours from Melbourne.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 20%, Intermediate 40%, Advanced 40%
Children's Program: Yes - Kids Club & Mighty Mites.
Facilities: On-mountain cafes, terrain parks, fine dining restaurants, mini supermarket, retail, cafes and fast food outlets, public picnic area, child care, and medical centre.
Activities: Husky sled dog tours, alpine nature experiences, snowshoeing, backcountry sled tours, Ski & snowboard lessons (private and groups), night skiing, cross country skiing, massage, day spa, tobogganing and snow play.
While not considered a stand-alone winter resort, Dinner Plain Alpine Resort is run by Hotham and has 1 poma style lift, suitable for beginners only. That being said, Dinner Plain provides a large amount of accommodation for Hotham resort visitors, with busses running between the resorts located about 11km apart. Dinner Plain itself has an exceptional offering of fine dining restaurants, pubs and nightlife. It also has a unique health and fitness facility called Onsen, boasting a small gym, a lap pool and a Japanese style outdoor hot bath to rest and unwind in after a hard day on the slopes. For many reasons, die-hard Hotham regulars prefer to stay in Dinner Plain over Hotham, as it’s much easier to access and move around the well planned out village. Those opting to stay here have access to all Hotham’s facilities and activities, and vice versa.
Location: 5 hours from Melbourne.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 100%, Intermediate 0%, Advanced 0%
Children's Program: Yes - Kids Club & Mighty Mites (at Hotham).
Facilities: On-mountain cafes, fine dining restaurants, mini supermarket, retail, cafes and fast food outlets, and public picnic area.
Activities: Husky sled dog tours, alpine nature experiences, massage, day spa, snow shoeing, backcountry sled tours, Ski & snowboard lessons (private and groups), night skiing, cross country skiing, tobogganing, child care and snow play.
Falls Creek Alpine Resort is Victoria’s largest skiing and snowboarding field with a huge offering of on and off-snow activities. Most of the accommodation in Falls Creek is ski-in ski-out, accessible by green runs which makes it a fantastic place to go with a family. The village has been designed around the pedestrian so getting from A to B is merely a matter of a short walk when you want to dine out, visit a local pub or hit the mini supermarket. With a selection of runs that favours the intermediate, Falls Creek is a great place for everyone to develop their skiing on gentle slopes and enjoy the beautiful high plains scenery.
Location: 4.5 hours from Melbourne.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 17%, Intermediate 60%, Advanced 23%
Children's Program: Yes - Snow Club.
Facilities: On-mountain cafes, terrain parks, fine dining restaurants, mini supermarket, retail, cafes, fast food outlets, public picnic area, pharmacy, medical centre, and child care.
Activities: Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, night skiing, fat biking (snow biking), backcountry tours, snowmobile tours, day spas, massage and museum.
Located only 3 hours from Melbourne, Mt Buller Alpine Resort is one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts. With a generous and balanced offering of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs - Mt Buller will keep every skier and snowboarder entertained. For something a bit different, there are 2 toboggan parks that keep the non-skiing/snowboarding day-trippers entertained. For those who enjoy the Apres-ski scene - there are over 30 bars and restaurants that whip up everything from fast food to fine dining cuisine. There is a noticeable selection of luxury accommodation on offer and some budget-friendly options too. Due to its close proximity to the city, Buller is at the epicentre of snowsport athlete development with elite athlete programs and university courses offered at their training centre.
Location: 3 hours from Melbourne.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 20%, Intermediate 45%, Advanced 35%
Children's Program: Yes - Snow Squad.
Facilities: On-mountain cafes, terrain parks, fine dining restaurants, cinema, mini supermarket, retail, cafes, fast food outlets, public picnic area, pharmacy, medical centre, and child care.
Activities: Massage, scenic chairlift, fitness centre/gym, cinema, night skiing, cross country skiing, Buller Air Zone (trampoline centre), sculpture park walk, snowgaining (high altitude orienteering), Buller History Hunt, tobogganing, National Alpine Museum, Australian Sled Dog Tours, snow play, and gnome roam.
Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort is a favourite among first-timer families and those looking for a quick day trip from Melbourne. The terrain is mostly beginner and intermediate but the resort also offers some small terrain parks to keep the teenagers entertained. Accommodation in Mt Baw Baw is offered if you would like to stay longer and the village has everything you need to get on the slopes.
Location: 2.5 hours from Melbourne.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 25%, Intermediate 64%, Advanced 11%
Children's Program: Yes.
Facilities: On-mountain cafes, terrain parks, retail, cafes, fast food outlets, public picnic area, medical centre, child care, lockers and storage, and prayer room.
Activities: Cross country skiing, Howling Husky Sled Dogs, Ski & Snowboard Lessons, Alpine Dingo Walks, tobogganing and snow play, terrains parks, snowshoeing and winter hiking, and Japanese snow fighting.
Well off the beaten track for snow tourism in Australia is Ben Lomond Ski Resort in Tasmania. The resort is uncrowded due to Tassie’s low population, quirky and totally unique when it comes to snow experiences. With epic scenery of the vast and remote Tasmanian wilderness, nature lovers will be at home here. The skiing is limited to mostly beginner and intermediate trails, so if you are keen to learn and happen to be living in Tasmania, this could be well worth it. This resort feels like some of the club fields of New Zealand, with very limited on-mountain accommodation but it does pack a punch with a cafe/bistro, ski/snowboard rental, clothing rental and some retail shops.
Location: 3 hours from Hobart.
Terrain Breakdown: Beginner 37%, Intermediate 53%, Advanced 10%
Children's Program: Yes.
Facilities: On-mountain cafe/bistro, terrain parks, small retail shop, cafes, public picnic area, medical centre, lockers and storage.
Activities: Ski and snowboarding lessons, tobogganing, and school programs.
Once you’ve got your head around where you want to go, it's important to check that your vehicle is snow safe and ready to transport everything you need for a snowy adventure. Make sure to check the resort's website for more information on current regulations, and for information about carrying and using snow chains as you are legally required to have snow chains in your vehicle in certain resort areas to stay safe on the road in a snowstorm. The last thing to consider when checking your vehicle is that your antifreeze levels are appropriate for subzero temps and that the water in your windscreen wiper jets have a special fluid that will prevent it from freezing. Just ask for it at a service station local to a resort area.