Winter chill takes on a whole new meaning when you can escape to the snow.
Victorians are blessed with a choice of snowfields that are easily reached from many areas of the state. The major resorts are at Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller. The smaller Mount Baw Baw caters mainly for beginners and intermediates.
Snow skiing can be an expensive experience, but read on for some tips to help you enjoy the exhilaration of snow sport without spending a fortune.
For the family
Head to Lake Mountain for tobogganing, snowball fights and cross-country skiing. It’s the best bet if you want some family fun for a day, without downhill skiing and without breaking the bank. Mount Stirling and Mount St Gwinear cater for cross-country skiers and also offer an affordable day on the snow.
Across the border, the major New South Wales resorts are Thredbo and Perisher. In New Zealand, the most popular snowfields include The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Treble Cone, Cardrona and Mount Hutt.
The basic principle when dressing for the snow is to layer up. Start with a thermal base layer next to your body, then a mid-layer such as a fleece, and finish with a waterproof outer layer. Jeans and cotton T-shirts won’t cut it … you’ll be the first one into the après bar. You can rent waterproof outer layers, but generally need to buy the others. Invest in items you’ll be happy to wear off-mountain too.
Consider borrowing or hiring snow gear for growing kids. Ensure they have the correct shoes for the snow as well, and everyone will enjoy the day.
Where to stay
Save by using accommodation off the mountain. You’ll still be in the action but will keep costs down. Towns surrounding the ski resorts offer plenty of accommodation options at a fraction of the on-mountain price and often have more to choose from.
Hostels are another budget option that can provide multi-share or private accommodation. They often have self-catering facilities and many lodges are affiliated with the nearest ski resort, making transport to the mountain easy and affordable.
Another option is to get in early and save with an early-bird special.
Top 10 tips to keep costs down
1. Buy early and save.
2. Bundle up your lift pass, lessons and rental gear.
3. Buy multi-day lift passes (there’s least value in a single daily lift ticket).
4. Go in low season (June and September).
5. Self-catering in an apartment with a group of friends saves on accommodation and food costs.
6. Car pool.
7. Discounts are often offered for online purchases of lift passes, lessons and rental.
8. Borrow snow clothing from a friend. You don’t need the latest on-trend gear. However, it’s best to rent skis, snowboards and boots to make sure you have safe equipment that is properly fitted.
9. Consider smaller resorts (such as Mount Baw Baw in Victoria and Selwyn in New South Wales). They have fewer slopes and quieter nightlife, but are generally cheaper.
10. Stay off mountain. Country towns such as Mansfield, Bright, Mount Beauty, Omeo and Harrietville have affordable accommodation.