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5 questions to ask yourself before booking a snow trip

Keen to get in some turns on the Aussie slopes this winter? Here are five questions to ask yourself before you go…

1. When is the best time to go?

Most resorts open in time for the June long weekend, which means many of them are already open for the 2021 season.

Heading in June or early July can mean you avoid the crowds, but there’s also less chance of having solid snow coverage across the resorts.

If you have a bit of flexibility and can head to the snow fields at the drop of a hat, then it pays to keep a close eye on weather conditions and go when the snow has just fallen.

But if, like many, you need to plan your trips further in advance, then you need to be a bit more careful.

Some seasons have good early snowfall, meaning conditions are prime for skiing from the very start. However, the reason that late July and August are considered “peak season” is because, historically, the snow conditions are usually best at this time. Enough weeks have passed for snowfall to accumulate, but it’s also not too late in the season that the weather is warming up and the snow is starting to melt away.

As with most travel, it’s all a question of higher costs, more people and overall better conditions (peak season) vs. lower costs, less people and riskier conditions (low season). 

2. Which resort is best for me?

All of Australia’s ski resorts are located in NSW and Victoria.

In NSW, there are four resorts: Perisher, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Selwyn. Of these, Perisher and Thredbo are by far the most visited.

Perisher is the largest resort in the Southern Hemisphere, with the most terrain, most runs and the most lifts.

Thredbo is smaller in terms of terrain, but has longer runs from top to bottom, and also has the more established ski village with arguably the better “after-ski” vibe.

Charlotte Pass is a more family-friendly resort, and a great option if you are a beginner or have young grandchildren with you, while Selwyn is a small family-run resort with inexpensive lift tickets, again good for families and beginners.

In Victoria, there are five resorts: Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Baw Baw and Lake Mountain.

Of the five, Mt Hotham is considered a real skier’s destination due to its aggressive terrain and, usually, the fact that it has more snow than the other Victorian resorts. It’s also unusual in that its village is above most of its terrain, giving you the rare experience of skiing down to the chairlift from your accommodation in the morning.

Mt Buller is just a three-hour drive from Melbourne, making it the easiest-to-access major resort in Australia. It’s a little more modern than Hotham, too, with high-speed lifts and runs for all abilities from beginner to advanced.

Falls Creek is unique in that it’s almost entirely ski-in ski-out accommodation, and has a wonderful village vibe with restaurants and bars dotted around the ski fields.

Baw Baw is a smaller resort and, as such, offer cheaper lift tickets, but Baw Baw has only T-bars (ie. no chairlifts). It’s more for beginner to intermediate skiers, as the terrain is not extensive.

Finally, there’s Lake Mountain, which has no downhill skiing, but is a great place for families to go tobogganing, and also a good choice if you want to try your hand at cross-country skiing.

3. Should I stay on-snow or off-snow?

In NSW, you’ll need to choose if you want to stay “off snow” – i.e. in a town like Jindabyne or Berridale – or whether you stay “on snow” – i.e. at one of the resorts.

Staying in town provides you with a wider choice of accommodation, including lodges, inns, homes and holiday parks, and prices are usually more affordable too. However, you’ll need to drive approximately 30-45 minutes (or take the Skitube – more on that soon) up to your resort when it comes time to ski.

Staying on snow is generally more expensive, but there are options at both Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass. Thredbo has the most accommodation options, as the village of Thredbo is more established than Perisher, which caters more to daytime visitors.

In Victoria, you’re more likely to end up staying on the snow, as each of the major resorts have their own established villages and on-snow accommodation is a little more attainable.

However, if you’d still like the cheaper option of staying in town, you can find off-mountain accommodation at the following towns for each Victorian resort:

  • Mount Hotham: Harrietville (40mins drive), Omeo (45mins drive), Bright (1hr drive)
  • Mount Buller: Merrijig (35mins drive), Mansfield (45mins drive)
  • Falls Creek: Mount Beauty (40mins drive)
  • Mount Baw Baw: Erica (40mins drive), Moe (1hr drive), Noojee (1hr drive)
  • Lake Mountain: Marysville (20mins drive)

4. How will I get to the snow fields?

On the NSW side of the border, Perisher is located inside Kosciuszko National Park and is accessibly by car or via the Skitube railway.

If you’re going by car, you’ll need to purchase a National Park permit, and if you have a 2WD vehicle you’ll need to fit your vehicle with snow chains, which can be rented in Cooma or Jindabyne, the nearest towns.

Alternatively, the Skitube is a handy option and can take you right to both the Front Valley and Blue Cow ski areas, but also costs around $95 per day (return).

For Thredbo, there is no Skitube access, so the only way to get there is by driving. Again, you will need permits and possibly snow chains.

Charlotte Pass is unique in that the only way to get there is via oversnow transport vehicles. First you head to Perisher, and from there hop on “the oversnow”.

Selwyn is located much further north than the other three fields on the other side of Kosciuszko National Park, and is accessible only by road.

On the Victorian side of the border, access is all by vehicle. Buller is a three-hour drive from Melbourne, and Hotham and Falls Creek are five-hour drives. Snow chains may be required in all cases.

The smaller resorts of Bawbaw and Lake Mountain are just a 2.5-hour and 2-hour drive, respectively, from Melbourne, and are accessible by car.

In most cases, coach services also run to and from the resorts.

5. What do I need to bring?

Okay, so you have your travel dates, your lift tickets, your accommodation and your transport sorted. Now you just need to pack!

Here’s a checklist of things to bring, or at least consider bringing, to the snow. Bear in mind that this list does not include skis, boots and poles; if you own those already, you’ll definitely know that you have to bring them, and if you don’t own them, then you’ll need to arrange rentals at any of the rental shops located near your accommodation or at the resorts.


  • Snow goggles
  • Snow gloves
  • Glove liners
  • Neck warmer
  • Balaclava
  • Beanie
  • Small backpack


  • Waterproof ski jacket
  • Waterproof ski pants
  • Base layers
  • Woollen ski socks

Off-mountain clothing:

  • Warm pants
  • Warm jacket
  • Base layers
  • Plenty of additional socks and underwear (all can get quite wet after a day on the slopes!
  • Non-slip shoes

Off-mountain accessories:

  • Scarf
  • Everyday gloves
  • Swimwear (in case you have a spa!)


  • Sunscreen
  • Moisturiser
  • Lip balm
  • All usual toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, etc.)


  • Ski tickets (once you’ve purchased them!)