Snowy Mountains - No business like snow business
|No business like snow business - Quick Facts|
Jindabyne is around 470 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume, Federal and Monaro highways. From Jindabyne it's 30km along the Alpine Way to Thredbo, and 33 km along the Kosciuszko Road to Perisher Blue.
The ski season begins in mid-June and finishes mid-October. Only a few lifts are open at each resort in June.
In some cases there are only a few metres between one resort's highest point and another's, but these vital statistics become major selling points as resorts market themselves to skiers as the highest, the longest, the largest and even the smallest.
Each of NSW's four ski resorts has unique features. There is somewhere to suit all tastes and little chance of getting bored as you can ski at two resorts quite comfortably in a week.
As statistics go, Thredbo claims the best height, length and 'vertical'. With a 672-metre vertical drop - or fall line - it's steep and it also boasts Australia's highest lifted point - Karel's T-bar at 2,037 metres. It also has the longest runs. You can ski a whopping 5.9 km all the way from Karel's to the beginner's area of Friday Flat, or stop at Terminal Valley, which is still a good 3.7 km run.
While this may sound like ski heaven for the experts, if you're not a downhill champion don't be put off - most of Thredbo's terrain (67%) is suitable for intermediate skiers. There's also a purpose-built slope for beginners with new 'ski runners' - moving footpaths to help novices up the hill - and Thredboland for the kids.
Thredbo is a high-energy resort - offering fast runs by day and a compact all-inclusive village with 20 restaurants and 12 lively bars by night. There's also free night skiing on Tuesdays and Saturdays during July and August, and every Saturday the downhill flare run takes place at 6.30 pm, followed by fireworks.
You can brush up your technique with a range of lesson packages called SLAP (Ski Like A Professional) and WHIP (Women's High Intensity Program), which are small-group three-day or five-day sessions complete with video analysis and drinks on 'graduation'. Solo skiers can get acquainted with the mountain and others by taking free guided tours.
Perisher Blue's big claim is pretty big indeed. It is the largest resort in the Southern Hemisphere and bigger than some in Canada and Europe. This feat was achieved when four resorts - Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Guthega and Smiggins - joined together in 1995.
A series of 50 lifts and 100 groomed trails enable skiers to negotiate a 1,250 hectare snowy expanse of ski terrain ranging from incredibly easy to invitingly steep. The Mount Perisher double chair is the highest lifted point at 2,034 metres - 39 metres shy of Thredbo's - and the longest run is 3 km.
This resort is great for first-time skiers, boasting more 'beginner' terrain than other resorts (22%) and a couple of dream runs - the aptly named Pleasant Valley and Pretty Valley - long and wide enough to practise those new turns.
Perisher Blue attracts several ski 'demographics' - including extreme skiers, cafe cruisers (ski, latte, ski, lunch, ski, drinks), families and 'lapsed' skiers - and is developing a name with cross-country fanatics due to its 100 km of groomed trails. It has just introduced cheaper lift tickets for 15 - 17-year-olds and reduced-rate bonus weeks in July and September. There are also free guided mountain tours.
Access is by car or the Skitube train and Perisher will become even bigger in 2002 when stage one of a new 800-bed condo and hotel village opens on the site of the current car park. A new eight-seat high-speed lift will replace the front valley T-bars.
At the other end of the spectrum is Charlotte Pass - an intimate and uncrowded retreat. It's far from dull. The adventure starts by taking the SnowCat - an over-snow vehicle with giant wheels - on an 8 km journey from Perisher.
Named after Charlotte Adams, the first woman to climb Mt Kosciuszko, it is Australia's highest village and only snowbound resort.
Families who love the friendliness, lack of crowds, lifts at the door and free child-minding make up 80% of the 550 guests. Accommodation comprises the historic Bavarian-style Kosciuszko Chalet and lodges. Staff also love the snowed-in feeling and return year after year.
Selwyn Snowfields focuses on families and first-timers. It's a drive-in day resort offering fun activities like snowtubing - you sit in a blow-up tube and sail down the slopes - along with skiing, tobogganing and snowboarding.
Lift tickets are just over half the price of other resorts and kids under six and seniors (over 65) ski free.
Accommodation is at nearby towns including Adaminaby, Anglers Reach and Tumut. This is the perfect resort for those on a winter driving tour of the Snowy Mountains, who want a spot of skiing or want to try it for the first time.
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