Category:Australia

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Flag of Australia Australia
Location of Australia
Ski Season June - September
Ski Areas NSW
Charlotte Pass
Perisher
Selwyn Snowfields
Thredbo
VIC
Dinner Plain
Donna Buang
Falls Creek
Hotham
Lake Mountain
Mt Baw Baw
Mt Buffalo
Mt Buller
Mt St Gwinear
Mt Stirling
TAS
Ben Lomond
Mt Mawson
Capital Canberra
35°15′S 149°28′E
Largest city Sydney
Official language(s) English
Area 7,686,850 km²
Population  
 - July 2006 est. 20,555,300 (53rd)
 - Density 2.65/km² (217th)
5.2/sq mi 
Currency Australian dollar
(AUDConvert
Time zone various2 (UTC+8–+10)
Calling code +61
Overview 

Climate

Snow climate in Australia is sometimes regarded as warm and wet. We rarely get really dry snow and what we pass as powder in the mornings is often heavy in the afternoon. The moisture comes from the cold southern ocean but because it doesn't pass across a lot of land mass first the air and hence snow rarely gets very cold. Despite a record temperature of -23°C at Charlotte Pass, night time temperatures rarely drop below about -6°C and often hover just below zero. Daytime temperatures usually reach +1 or +2°C for much of the season with spring temperatures often climbing towards +6°C in mid to late September.

Most snowfalls are preceeded by a very windy change and chairs going on windhold is a common thing in most Australian resorts.

Snow areas

All but two of the commercial ski resorts are near Victoria – NSW border, in the only area on the mainland that develops a sufficiently deep snowpack for snowsports. In NSW the mountains are known as 'The Snowy Mountains' or just 'The Snowies'. Victorians usually refer to the 'High Country' and Tasmanians talk about the 'Highlands'.

On the Victorian side, there are three major and four minor ski resorts. There are also some small resorts used for cross-country skiing. On the NSW side, there are two major and two minor ski resorts. There are two small resorts in Tasmania.

There are a number of ski clubs with lodges outside the resorts, some of which run their own backcountry ski-tows

A vast area of country is available for backcountry skiing both near the resorts and futher afield.Backcountry areas

Snow in Australia is not as reliable as many other countries, due to the low altitude (the highest peak is Mt Kosciuszko at 2228 m), low latitude, and prevailing weather patterns. It is common for one year to be poor, while the very next year is a bumper season. Therefore, it's wise to be prepared for the worst and have other activities available to make the most of your holiday.

More than 400 ski lifts have operated in Australia at various times. A list of every lift, past and present is here.

Victorian Resorts are managed by 2 different entities Resort Management Boards and Lift Companies. In NSW all resorts are in National Parks. For historical reasons different resorts in NSWhave different types of land occupancy, although in 2009 Perisher has had its varied land occupancy right rationalised. The variations make little difference to the experience skiers and boarders have at each resort.

New South Wales

Victoria

Tasmania

When to go

The Australian season can be variable. A really bad year can mean almost no snow except on snowmaking areas. An exceptional year can mean complete coverage from early June to early October and beyond. However in average years you will have some skiing in June. By early July the coverage is reasonably extensive and from late July to early September coverage will be complete. The deepest snowpack is usually found in late August and the first week in September. The thaw generally starts in early September and snow depth starts decreasing from then, although significant falls of snow are possible at any time in September and October.

Snow quality is best in July as this is the coldest month but the weather is less stable. By September warmer weather means spring conditions - frozen in the morning and softening during the day. By late September there will be quite a few nights without an overnight freeze and things get steadily slushier and heavier. August is the best compromise among weather, snow depth and snow quality. August, not coincidentally, is peak season and most expensive. If you factor cost in as well the end of shoulder season in July looks pretty good.

The Snowy Hydro Snow Depth Calculator gives snow depth information for NSW over many decades. Spencers Creek is the nearest measurement site to the major resorts of Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass. Three Mile Dam is close, albeit a little lower in altitude, to Selwyn Snowfields. Snowy Hydro records depths for its own purposes of calculating how much water will flow into its dams and is uncontaminated by commercial wishful thinking.


Height comparison

Resort

Peak (m)

Base (m)

Vertical (m)

Mt Kosciuszko *

2228

Thredbo

2037

1365

672

Perisher

2034

1605

429

Charlotte Pass

1840

1670

170

Selwyn

1614

1491

123

Mt Bogong *

1986

Buller

1781

1367

414

Hotham

1850

1455

395

Falls

1780

1400

380

Mt Mackay *

1842

Buffalo

1742

1604

138

Baw Baw

1564

1339

225

  • Backcountry, included for comparison.

Steepest Runs

So what are the steepest runs in various resorts, and how steep are they?

  • Thredbo
  • Perisher
  • Charlotte Pass
  • Selwyn
  • Falls Creek
  • Hotham
  • Buller - The Chutes (Out of Bounds)
  • Baw Baw
  • Mt Mawson - Rodway
  • Ben Lomond

Getting there

Australia can be an expensive country to reach due to the distance from other countires, so be prepared to pay for expensive air tickets. The main tourists visiting Australia are Chinese, Japanese, European and American citizens. The majority of visitors travel by air, but cruise ships regulary visit Australia as a stop-over. International ferries in Australia are largely non-existant.

Visas and documentation

All travellers to Australia require a visa. Be sure to check with the nearest Australian consulate or embassy to find out if you are eligible to enter the country, or visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Airports

Australia has many entry ports but the three main hubs are Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Airports. All Australian international airports have duty-free shops, airline lounges, waiting area, food courts in their "International Zone", automatic teller machines, washrooms, and frequent transport shuttles to and from airport and CBD.

Sydney 'Kingsford Smith' Airport

Apparently the airport has won awards, however arriving in Sydney on an International flight can result in a significant wait to get through immigration, and another long wait for Customs.

The main problem with this is the seemingly total inability of the Airport Authority to provide adequate airconditioning in these areas. So, sorry.

Fortunately once past customs, you have several options to get out of the airport; bus (shuttle), train, taxi and hire car. The train may sound good, but it is bloody expensive and you still have to get from the stations to your destination! If there is more than one of you, and you are going to the city, a cab could be the best bet.

The International and Domestic terminals are physically separated - if you are transferring to a domestic flight, you will need to catch a shuttle bus to the domestic terminal. Check with your (domestic) airline for more information.

Customs and quarantine

Due to Australia's isolation from the rest of the world, Australia has some of the toughest quarantine laws in the world. So it is important to check with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to find out what food product is allowed into the country and what is strictly prohibited.

"Nature made Australia unique - Quarantine keeps it that way", You would see this quote plastered around the airports on arrival, so please co-operate with the Customs in order to protect this unique ancient environment. If you don't, you face hefy fines up to $500,000 and a long prison sentence, and the possiblity of starring on 'Border Security'.

Tasmania has its own quarantine system to protect it from nasties that occur on the mainland. Don't take fruit, vegies and some types of meat to Tassie or those cute Beagles that run all over your luggage will find it and you will be hit with a big fine.

Cultural Info

National Holidays

  • January 1: New Years' Day
  • January 26: Australia Day
  • Easter weekend: Four day long weekend in March or April
  • April 25: ANZAC Day
  • Second Monday in June: Queen's Birthday holiday
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day

Victoria

  • March: Labour Day (2nd Monday of March)
  • November: Melbourne Cup (for metro Melbourne only) (1st Tuesday of November)

Food and Drink

Food and drink in Australia tends to be very international. It is not rare to find a cafe that sells Asian alongside with traditional foods such as pizza.

Major Centres All capital cities, and many large regional centres, have a wide range of cuisines and an equally wide range of prices. There are comparatively few major chains of restaurants except for the ubiquitous fast food operators. Most restaurants are owner operated which generally means higher quality food than diner style chains. Australian produce is generally very fresh compared to Europe and the USA.

Top range Australian restaurants are among the best in the world, and the mid-range and "cheap and cheerful" restaurants are excellent value. In the major cities you will be able to find almost any style of cuisine.

Resorts All resorts have fine dining options and better value options. The range is obviously not as great in the cities but in the major resorts there are enough restaurants that you do not have to eat in the same place twice over the course of the average vacation.

All resorts provide the standard burger or hot dog/chips (fries) style meals in cafeterias for lunch. Recently the resorts have extended their range and there is now a largish range of tasty and/or healthy food available.

Sub Alpine Towns Generally have a range of restaurants somewhere between major centres and resorts.

Transport

Most people in Australia get around by using their car as their main form of transport. Most of the public transport use happens during the "peak hour" in the urban centres around Australia.

Road

The roads in Australia are comparable to the rest of the world. A driver traveling between major regional centres would not be likely to face any significant problem, as the main regional highways are maintained at the highest standard possible.

In Victoria, the roads with the highest quality would be the 'A' roads linking the major urban centres, such as 'A1' linking Traralgon with Bairnsdale. Linking the small regional towns with population of 2,000-5,000 people would be the 'B' roads, for example 'B300' links Melbourne Eastern Suburbs to a small town of Mansfield. Lowest quality roads are the 'C' roads, their functions are connector roads, creating a link between two roads, or is an access to a small town less than 2,000 people. However, some 'C' roads are an exception in terms of road quality such as the roads leading up to the ski resorts.

All mainland ski resorts in Australia have sealed roads with adequate protections such as crash barriers. Main roads to the resorts are snow-cleared in winter, however back roads and private roads may take a day or two to be cleared after a heavy fall.

Car Hire/Rental

Renting a car for your traveling purposes or sight seeing is a popular form of tourism in Australia. The positives include the freedom of no timetables, schedules and storage. On the other hand, Car hire companies tend to cost more than other conventional means of transportation. Use a comparison tool like that at Discovery Car Hire to find the cheapest prices. Most major car hire companies are also stationed at the major airports in Australia, to make booking rather easy.

Rail/Train

Using rail as a mean of transport in Australia is possible, but can get a bit expensive at times and often involves inconsistent timetables. Security on the trains are sometimes questionable, but generally, it is a safe place. A train is used to access much of Perisher ski resort in New South Wales, although that train is a couple of hundred kilometres from the rest of the rail network. Rail is not a viable way of getting to the ski fields in Australia.

Metropolitan Networks

Rail in the state capitals are often reliable enough to use on a day by day basis. The two biggest rail networks in Australia are in Sydney and Melbourne. The minor rail networks are in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Tram (street car)

Melbourne is the only city in Australia that has a reliable and comprehensive tram network, although Adelaide and Sydney have one tram line each.

Air (domestic)

Traveling by air in Australia shouldn't be much of a problem. The three main airlines in Australia are QANTAS, Virgin Blue and JetStar. One ski resort, Hotham, is linked by air to Melbourne and Sydney. The nearest airport with actual flights to the NSW resorts is Canberra, with direct flights to and from all other capital cities. There is an airport at Cooma and REX (Regional Express) flies there, as of 2016. The nearest airport to Mt Buller in Victoria is Melbourne. Albury is closest to Falls Creek and Mt Hotham (if you cannot get a direct flight).

Getting To Australian Snowfields

Driving

Driving to the NSW and Victorian resorts are two different experiences. This reflects the fact that the major access to NSW resorts is from the east, and to Victorian resorts is from the west. The western side of the range is much steeper and more rugged than the eastern side.

Access to NSW resorts is on good roads with relatively gentle curves. The speed limit is 80 km/hr in the National Park and, with good road conditions, there is no reason why you can't do that speed for the majority of the trip. It is rare for it to be necessary to fit chains into Thredbo or to the bottom of the Skitube.

Access to the Victorian resorts is steeper, and via 'interesting' roads with many hairpin bends. Because the Hotham village is at the top of the hill it is often necessary to fit chains. (Remember it is compulsory to carry chains in Victoria whether or not you have a 4WD. Carrying chains in NSW is also compulsory for 2WD vehicles in most parts of the National Park)

In Victoria there are usually a choice of routes, depending on factors like where you are leaving from and whether you are in a hurry or want to admire the scenery. Some of the most popular are covered in Driving from Melbourne

From Sydney there are no real sensible variations now that there is divided road to Canberra, (except for the perennial "how to avoid Canberra - Queanbeyan or the airport" controversy) Drive to Jindabyne, and follow your nose is the only advice you need.

Access to the two Tasmanian resorts is quite different. The small Mt Mawson 'club field' near Hobart has a relatively easy drive to the main carpark (albeit on a gravel road), followed by a 20 minute walk to the tows. By contast, you can drive right to the tows at the larger Ben Lomond resort near Launceston, but the road climbs the infamous Jacob's Ladder. Essentially it goes straight up a cliff with some truly hairy hairpin bends.

When driving in the high country during winter, it is not uncommon to encounter 'black ice' well below the snowline, where water on the road has frozen overnight forming patches of invisible ice. Be wary of sharp and off camber corners, expecially if they are shaded from the morning sun.

Flying

You can fly to an airport 20 km away from Hotham by commercial or charter flight.

Cooma is the nearest airport to the NSW resorts. Flights into Cooma, operated by Aeropelican, will be restored for the 2010 season after 3 years of absence. A shuttle will meet the flight, and the airport is about an hour+ drive from the resorts. Canberra is the next nearest airport.

For air travel to Falls Creek you can fly into Albury, but you are still 1.5 hours from the hill. Regular coaches visit the resort from Albury.

Bus

A number of coach companies run regular shuttles from Sydney and Canberra to NSW resorts, including Greyhound, Murrays, and Transboarder. They will drop you at Jindabyne, Bullocks Flat (for the ski tube to Perisher), and Thredbo, but sadly not at your door.

Snow alliance is a bunch of local operators working hard to get you to the snow (via bus or shuttle )at the best price. http://www.snowalliance.com.au They offer canberra airport transfers to your door and shuttles from Jindabyne to Perisher but if you are coming from the airport book them direct to avoid a transfer at Jindabyne. They cost around the same as the large coach companies but you get less people on the bus and great personal service. They are also very helpful if you have any general questions. They live in the area and know most options.

Technology and Networks

The communication network in Australia is excellent, but the internet speed lags behind many other western countries.

Mobile (cell) phone coverage in Australia is fairly random due to the vastness of the country side. When travelling in remote areas some people carry a satellite phone for emergencies. All major ski resorts have good to excellent coverage by the major mobile networks: Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone. As the biggest carrier, Telstra generally has the broadest and most reliable mobile coverage.

In the Eastern states (Vic, NSW and Qld), mobile phone coverage is widespread along the major highways linking cities. Every state capital in Australia has full mobile phone coverage.

In Jindabyne localy based Carrier/ISP Airlan provides wireless WiFi prepaid internet hotspots in Jindabyne, Perisher Vally, Thredbo, Smiggin Hole and most of the major hotel and motels. Excelent coverage with hotspots in local coffee shops and rental properties. airlan.com.au.

Taxes

A goods and services tax (GST) of 10% is applied to all purchases (except fresh food). All prices displayed are inclusive of GST so there is no need to calculate what the price is with tax added.

Credit Cards

The major credit cards are generally accepted in Australia. Very few places don't accept credit cards. If paying for your accommodation via credit, be sure to check if they accept your credit card, particulary American Express or Diners. Some smaller accommodation will not accept them. Vendors are legally entitled to apply a surcharge for purchases by credit card. This is rare for Visa or Mastercard but is often added for American Express and Diners, reflecting the various card providers commission charges.

Automatic Teller Machines are ubiquitous in cities and can be found in most small towns. All resorts have ATMs. Most ATMs will charge you a nominal transaction fee (usually around $2.00) if your account is not with the bank that owns the ATM. You will be advised of this fee and given the option to continue or cancel.

Cheques (Checks)

Cheques (or checks if you are American) are NOT a common form of payment in Australia. Many places will not accept cheques, while others will require significant ID and / or charge a surcharge to process them.

Attempting to pay with a cheque at the supermarket will earn you some very strange looks!

Tipping

Unlike North America, tips are not required as a supplement to the staff wage; service industry staff are generally much better paid than they are overseas. Most Australians will only tip for good service; adequate or substandard service does not, and should not receive a tip.

It is conventional to tip 10%+ in restaurants and to leave small change on the bar for the bar staff. Rounding taxi fares up is common as (mirabilis) is taxi drivers rounding fares down.

Health and Safety

Australia has a nationalised health care system. Any person will be able to receive excellent quality emergency care without being asked for insurance details beforehand. Foreigners who are not from a country with reciprocal medical arrangements will still be charged for the services, so get travel insurance to be on the safe side!

Emergency Numbers

  • '000' is the nationwide Emergency phone number for Fire, Police or Ambulance services. It is for immediate emergencies only.
  • Mobile phones can dial 112 if for some reason you are unable to connect with 000.
  • Non critical situations(e.g. break and enter) should be rung through on the Police Attendance Line - 131 444.

Medical Centres

Medical centres are at every commercially operated resort in Australia. Australian medical standards are amongst the highest in the world and resort medical centres are no exception. Given the distance of the resorts from major hospitals it is still advisable to be insured for ambulance and air ambulance (helicopter) transport.

Natural Disasters

Australia is a hostile place for people to live. Australia is known for the bushfires that often rage the scorched earth, and cyclones that can scour the top half of the countries coastline.

Droughts in Australia are common, so it is important to conserve water by limiting waste.

Crime

Crime exists everywhere, Australia is no exception. Even though many Australians are fair and honest, their are some members of the public who are ready to act out a crime such as mugging, pick pocketing and breaking into unlocked areas such as houses and cars. So don't leave the car or house unlocked unattended. It is also recommenced that you make sure that valuable items are hidden from view to deter potential thieves from breaking in. Overall, Australia is regarded as a safe place.

Employment

Australian snowfields offer seasonal employment opportunities for a wide range of positions from instructors to hospitality. Find out more about Australian alpine jobs.

Trail Maps

Australian Ski Resort Maps

Resources

Australian Ski Areas Association

Subcategories

This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.