When I first started researching skiing/snowboarding in the NSW Snowy Mountains, I found it really difficult to find any useful information on the 2 most popular NSW resorts, Thredbo and Perisher. Asking friends helped a little, but for me, a beginner, first timer to the Australian ski fields… finding information was hard.
So here are some things that are important for you to know on your first time to the NSW ski fields.
Jindabyne is going to be your most reasonably priced place to stay as well as being close enough to enjoy yourself. Although staying directly at the resorts would be convenient (and not to mention beautiful), the rooms, especially for a solo traveller, are hugely expensive. If travelling with a large group of friends then prices seem to be reasonable.
Of course, depending on where you live in NSW (or Australia) will depend on how long it takes you to get here. But if you plan for 5-6 hours from Sydney, you should be alright. The M2, M7 and Hume Hwy, is a boring drive. Long boring straight piece of road, you’ll need munchies, good music or good company in the car.
It was hard to find JJJ once I was 20km past Canberra, so plan on bringing your iPod.
The road is very good quality the whole way to Jindy and you won’t need chains on your wheels as the snow doesn’t fall for a bit further up the mountain.
There are heaps of accommodation options in Jindy, and for all types of travellers. I have gone with Mad Moose which is a guest house close to town.
Stewie and Co. from Mad Moose are very accommodating. I am a solo traveller, and although the guest house does not usually cater for solo travellers, Mad Moose said they would take me in. I was really impressed with Stewie and Gemma and all the staff who helped me out with all the questions I had (which I am now forwarding onto you). The guest house is super clean, great kitchen for cooking. The rooms are comfortable, big couch with a TV, and the free breakfast is a great little bonus!
I also stayed at the Alpine Resort which sleeps up to 6 per room and has a private kitchenette and bathroom. Great for families and groups of friends.
When staying at Mad Moose and Alpine Resort, you also get 20% off your gear hire. Mad Moose have 4 stores in town to choose from, Monster has the newer gear, while the service stations (BP and Caltex) have last year’s gear for cheaper. I got a snow board, boots, jacket and pants for about $120 for 3 days (from the BP service station) which is a great price. My jacket is not the most fashionable on the slops but board is brand new. The staff here were also amazingly helpful!
There are 2 main resorts in the NSW Snowy Mountains, Perisher and Thredbo. If you would like to drive up directly to the slops you can. But it is expensive. $27/day for your National Park pass as well as chains for your car wheels. People with a 4WD do not require chains. It is about 40km one way and take 40min to drive.
Perisher has a ski tube (train) for $33 return (the price if also purchasing a lift ticket. $44 without the lift ticket) which leaves from Bullock Flats. You can park at the ski tube station for free and you rarely require chains on your wheels to get there. It is 20km from Jindy and takes 20min to drive. Alternatively there is a bus from Jindy to the tube for $25 return. The bus also goes direct to Thredbo if you choose to ski there instead.
As we all know, lift tickets to Australia Ski fields are super expensive! $120! And our snow fields are far from the best in the world. This is disappointing and hopefully will change in the future. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear that buying an early bird season pass special for Thredbo and Perisher was only $750. Both resort season passes also covered a season pass for their sister resorts in the USA. If you are an avid skier and had a trip to the USA planned, this is a great deal. If you are planning on being at the snow more that 7days in a season, then is also a great deal. Perisher has 47 lifts across the park and is made up of multiple sections, Perisher, Blue Cow, Smiggins Holes and Guthega. Thredbo has something similar with 14 lifts across the park and sections, Merrits and Crackenaback.
You are able to purchase multiple days and save on your lift tickets, but unfortunately, if there is a crappy day on the mountain with no lift chairs open, you will not get your money back. Nor if you are sick, injured or just want a day off.
If you have never skied or snowboarded before, then I would highly recommend getting lessons. It’s HARD!! And it’s going to HURT!!
Snowboarding is hard to learn but easy to master while skiing if easy to learn but hard to master. Perisher has 3 kinds of lessons. Private lessons for $84/hr, groups of 6 at the Perisher Hill for $60/2hrs or $48 for Blue Cow and Smiggins ski hills. BUT, the good news is that you can buy a lift/lesson bundle for Blue Cow and Smiggins Holes for only $135 with a 2hr group lesson. The lift ticket is limited to 31/47 Perisher lifts, but let’s be honest, you are not going to be good enough for all of those slopes anyway! The class sizes are not limited to 6 like at Perisher, but as this is the least favourite option the classe sizes are small. I was learning mid week and had classes of only 2 and 3 people. It was great to get such personal attention without the price tag. I tried lessons on all 3 hills (Perisher, Smiggins and BC) and I have to say that Blue Cow was the best place for learning. The hill is not real steep, its wide, the lift chair get off is easy and it was not really crowded. Of course everyone is going to be different in there learning speeds, but it would be hard to imagine anyone picking it up after just 1 lesson alone. So be prepared to pay for a few.
Thredbo Friday Flats is much less steep that anything Perisher has to offer and therefore if it is your first time, it may be your best option. BUT, once you pick up skiing or snowboarding (even just a little bit), Perisher has much better options for beginners.
All in all, my first trip to the Australian Snow Field was expensive but amazing! It cost me about $1000 for 4 days/nights (without food), but the thrill of finally nailing snowboard turns and learning just how much fun it can be at the snow once you stop falling over and hurting yourself is so very satisfying!. I will be back, and I can’t wait!!!!!
Prices are correct as of August 2015.