“ Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. 40 minutes flight from Sydney. „
While I was watching Steve Redgrave win his 5th gold medal at the Sydney Olympic games, I must admit that I was impressed. However I wasn’t just impressed by the feat of 5 gold medals in 5 Olympics by the fact that he was dressed with no regards for the cold. The reason I was impressed was that, simultaneously, there were people skiing on reasonable slopes only 5 hours drive away. Of course no one in their right mind is going to claim that the skiing in Australia compares to skiing in Europe or North America. However ski enthusiasts who happen to find themselves in Australia from June – October (well, OK, July – September), might find themselves pleasantly surprised by what is on offer. I learnt to ski in Perisher Blue in late July 1998. Perisher Blue is one of the larger Australian Ski Resorts, and one of only two large resorts in New South Wales (NSW). It is also one of the resorts closest to Sydney/Canberra. To get there from Sydney drive (or fly) to Canberra. Then head south to Jindabyne before heading into the Snowy Mountains National Park. The other major New South Wales resort of Threadbo is nearby in the Snowy Mountains National Park. Advantages The total vertical elevation for Perisher Blue is around 400m, which is adequate if not impressive. The skiing can be cheap. Our group stayed down in the valley below for a total cost of around Aus$600 per person. This included 5 nights B&B accommodation 5 1/2 days lift pass, 5 x 2 hr lessons and ski hire. This converts to around £250 or US$400. This was at a resort called “The Station” which catered for young people and probably rated with 2 stars. The main disadvantage of this location was that it was a 45 min drive followed by a 30 min train ride to get to the resort. Learning. Perisher Blue was where I learnt to ski. My recommendation if your learning is to book lessons at the Blue Cow Terminal. (Named af
ter Blue Cow Mountain, which is where the “Blue” part in “Perisher Blue” comes from). The main reason for this is that apart from the beginners tow row, most of the other lifts at Blue Cow are chairlifts. However Blue Cow is also located at the top of a mountain (OK, in reality top of a hill), so you can learn to ski down before having to face any lifts. Disadvantages Snow. A snow fall of 20 cm is considered very good in Australia. Snow depths rarely exceed 1 m (official recording) anytime during a season. However in a good year (like the 2000 season that I missed), the snow is good enough for it not to be that big of an issue. It is generally recognized that the skiing in New Zealand is better then it is in Australia. However since I have never skied New Zealand, I am not in a position to judge. In conclusion, Perisher Blue is recognized as one of the better ski resorts in Australia. Australia can provide some fun skiing if you happen to be in the area, but unless you are very addicted to skiing, and need a fix quickly, it isn’t worth travelling a long way for.