When you think of Australia’s overall atmosphere, what comes to mind? Sun, surf, and sand? That’s right, but don’t forget the snow! The lifts open at ski resorts across regional Australia from June to October. Excited snowboarders, skiers, and tobogganers travel to the nearest slopes to enjoy a different side of a sunburned country.
Skiing in Australia spans across multiple states including Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Australia Capital Territory. The highest ski slope and lift reach 6,683 feet at Thredbo resort. It’s not the Italian Alps, but it works for Australia. The country is a prime ski destination in the Southern Hemisphere because it’s less crowded, it’s inclusive to all expert levels, and it’s a unique Aussie experience. Oh, and you might spot a few alpine dingoes, wombats, or kangaroos enjoying the powdery snow!
How to Plan a Ski Trip to Australia
The ski season in Australia begins in late June and ends in early October (depending on the snowfall each year). The peak months to get the most out of the snow are July and August.
The major ski resorts in Victoria and New South Wales are about a four-hour drive inland toward high country. It’s possible to do a day trip if you’re short on time or if accommodation is booked out. It’s also possible to rent gear at each resort and you can do so ahead of time online. That will save you from waiting in line when you get to the shop.
If you fly into Melbourne, you can rent a car and drive to resorts such as Falls Creek, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham, or Mount Baw Baw—but keep in mind that Victorian roads require car tires to have chains when driving up the mountains during snow season.
There are regular checkpoints by the local authorities who will ensure that you are carrying chains. If you aren’t, it could result in a fine and you might have to turn around. You can purchase or rent snow chains at service stations and rental shops as you get closer to the mountains. The Roads and Maritime Services require two-wheel-drive vehicles to carry properly fitting chains along NSW roads during the winter months as well.
The snow chain situation can be a bit of a hassle, so it might be best to hop on a coach bus from the major cities to the ski resorts. And of course, there is the option to fly into Snowy Mountains Airport in NSW or Hotham Airport in Victoria for speedy transportation to the snow.
Bus tours are another excellent option and depart from Queensland, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, or Canberra. Some tours are all-inclusive of accommodation, meals, ski hire, and lift tickets. It’s a handy option for first-timers and for meeting other travelers.
Falls Creek, Victoria
Falls Creek is the largest ski resort in Victoria. It’s perfect for all expert level skiers and snowboarders as it hosts 15 lifts and 90 runs. There are also 65 cross-country trails. So you have plenty of options. Falls Creek is seven-hour drive south-west of Sydney and a four-and-a-half-hour drive northeast of Melbourne. There’s a Falls Bus from Melbourne that makes it easy to get to the resort. There is plenty of accommodation at Falls Creek as it’s a ski in-ski out village. Frying Pan Inn is a cozy spot for aprés ski, live music, and food after a long day on the slopes. There is a resort entry fee of AU$51.50 per day (when bought online) for all vehicles or AU$18.50 per person on a bus. You can buy lift passes directly on the Falls Creek website with the option to add equipment before checkout.
Mount Hotham, Victoria
Mount Hotham is the go-to resort for experienced skiers and snowboarders in Australia. It provides challenging terrain as it’s home to plenty of black trails, including the steepest black diamond in the country called Mary’s Slide. Mount Hotham resort is perched at the top of the mountain. The ski village offers incredible views of the slopes below, plus more than 20 restaurants and bars for aprés-ski fun. Mount Hotham is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne and an eight-hour drive from Sydney. The HothamBus express coach will take you straight from Melbourne, Sydney, or Adelaide to the Victorian snowfield. Lift pass prices vary depending on the day you visit and how early you book. Equipment is available for rent at the resort.
Thredbo holds many superlatives. In addition to being home to the highest peak (Mount Kosciuszko), it has the longest run in Australia—the three-mile-long Crackenback Super Trail. There are 14 lifts and 54 runs across the resort, with a mix of options for beginners to advance. Thredbo has a lively village as there’s almost always an event going on. You can purchase full-day or half-day lift passes, and prices range depending on the time of year. The resort is a two-hour drive from Canberra, with plenty of options to get there by bus.
Mount Buller, Victoria
Mount Buller is a three-hour drive from Melbourne. It’s easy to get to as there’s a coach service that runs regularly during the winter season. Mount Buller’s claim to fame is that it’s the largest ski lift network in Victoria—it offers 22 lifts and 740 acres of skiable terrain. There are two toboggan parks for heaps of family-friendly fun. As an added bonus, Mount Buller offers a “kids stay free” deal where up to two children under the age of 15 can stay for free when accompanied by two adults. Mount Buller has one of the largest ski villages with over 30 restaurants and bars, plus plenty of accommodation options. Lift passes can get as cheap as $66 when you book ahead of time.
Perisher is the biggest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. It hosts four villages, 47 lifts, and a mix of runs. Get your half-pipe on as it’s also home to five big terrain parks. Plus, night skiing is open every Tuesday and Saturday during the snow season. Perisher hosts plenty of festivals and events during the winter season such as Peak Music Festival, BrewSki Festival, and Perisher Pond Skim (brrr!). It’s a five-hour drive from Sydney and a six-hour drive from Melbourne. If you’re not into the drive, flying is your best alternative. One day lift passes reach up to AU$146 for adults but varies depending on when you buy them.
Mount Baw Baw, Victoria
Mount Baw Baw is a family-friendly ski resort. It offers easy downhill runs, two terrain parks, and cross country trails. Mount Baw Baw is a great place for beginners to learn how to ski or snowboard as the highest peak is about 5,000 feet tall. It’s a quick two-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne, making it a worthwhile day trip. Although, if you’re looking to stay the night, it offers plenty of options ranging from hostel dorms to self-contained apartments. Lift passes are fairly cheap compared to other big ski resorts in Australia, ranging from AU$55 to AU$80, depending on when you visit.
Ben Lomond, Tasmania
If you’re exploring Tasmania during the winter months, check out the ski scene at Ben Lomond National Park. The benefit of skiing in Tasmania is that it will be relatively uncrowded, but its season only runs from July to September. It’s a three-hour drive from Hobart to Ben Lomond National Park. If you don’t have chains to get you up the mountain, there’s a shuffle bus that runs regularly from the low carpark. You can hire gear and participate in lessons at Ben Lomond Snow Sports. This isn’t the biggest ski run you’ll find in Australia, but it does offer scenic views of the Tasmanian landscape. Full-day lift passes are AU$70 for adults or AU$45 for half a day. Accommodation can be found at Launceston, which is about an hour's drive from the slopes.