Get your skis ready

The ski season is set to officially kick off in NSW and Victoria from today, after weeks of delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With overseas travel to popular ski fields in Japan, Canada and even New Zealand off the cards for the foreseeable future – all eyes are on what Australia has to offer.

But while the slopes are looking to have a bumper season – it will not quite be “business as usual” when visiting the mountains.

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Australia is set to have a bumper season on the slopes this year.Source:Supplied

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With skiers required to pre-purchase all lift tickets online for the first time thanks to COVID-19, and social distancing measures in places across all resorts, everyone must think carefully about which mountain to choose this year. So whether you’re a first timer or seasoned campaigner here are your major options at-a-glance:

Thredbo NSW | Opens today (Monday, June 22)

Long runs plus the prestige factor help make this resort Australia’s Aspen. Half an hour’s drive along the Alpine Way turn-off just past Jindabyne, Thredbo Village offers luxe apartments, hotels, affordable club lodges and everything in between, all nestled on a hillside opposite the ski field. Find excellent beginner facilities at Friday Flat, ideal intermediate terrain at Merritts and runs for all else across the rest.

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Playing in the snow in Perisher. Picture: PerisherSource:Supplied

Must See & Do: Ride the new Merritts Gondola – the first 8-person gondola in the Australian snowfields which replaces the two-person Merritts Chairlift. Also ride Karel’s T-bar, then at the top have your picture taken ringing the bell beneath the “Australia’s Highest Lifted Point” sign (2037 metres) and post it to social media. Satisfy mountain appetites with pizza from Alfresco in the village, the Snowy Mountain’s longest-running pizzeria (30 years-plus).

•First release lift passes valid June 22 to October 30 are sold out BUT stay posted for Second Release which should be announced soon.

Perisher NSW | Open Wednesday, June 24

Our very own mega-mountain combining four resorts: Perisher links to Blue Cow, Smiggins Hole and Guthega via 47 lifts, officially making it the Southern Hemisphere’s largest alpine resort sprawling across 1245 hectares. It also has the largest number of terrain parks (5) plus a half-pipe. Renowned for being unintimidating for beginners, as well as immensely satisfying for intermediates and a spectacular venue for the advanced to enjoy some high-speed cruising while covering oodles of kilometres. Oh, and don’t forget that this mountain offers gorgeous high-alpine views.

Perisher in the Snowy Mountains is ideal for beginners and those with more skiing experience.Source:Supplied

Must See & Do: Ride to the resort via the SkiTube, a Swiss designed rack-rail train that is Australia’s longest transport tunnel (6.3 kilometres). Like ski lift passes, SkiTube tickets must also be pre-booked.

• First Stage pre-purchase lift ticket passes for dates June 24 to July 19 are on sale.

Charlotte Pass NSW | Opens on Friday, June 26.

Cosy hamlet with just three lifts, one poma, one T-bar, one chairlift. A paradise for families, learners and the romantic at heart with the historic turreted Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel as village centrepiece. Charlotte Pass is Australia’s highest ski resort (1765 metres) offering excellent quality natural snow, is the closest to Mt Kosciuszko and accessed only by over-snow transport from Perisher. Terrain is small and friendly.

Charlotte Pass Ski Resort in the Snowy Mountains is perfect for families. Picture: Destination NSWSource:Supplied

Must See & Do: Stay at the Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel, originally built in the 1930s earning it the title of “grand old lady” of Australia’s alpine. Sink into the guest lounge’s chesterfield-style armchairs and watch the kids taking their lessons while sipping a cocktail. Get your Chinese food fix at the restaurant in Lucy Lodge.

• Book lodging by Thursday, June 25 to receive a 15 per cent discount.

Hotham VIC | Open Wednesday, June 24.

Whereas most ski villages sit in or alongside valleys, Hotham is unique for its mountain ridge location. Magical sunrises and sunsets, modern luxe apartments, and luxury hotels are part and parcel of this resort. Excellent quality snow due to a high alpine location deep within the main ranges, fabulous terrain for all levels and especially the intermediate to advanced.

The Hotham Mountain Alpine Nature Experience is the perfect post-iso getaway. Picture: Kate HantonSource:Supplied

Must See & Do: Visit and/or stay at Dinner Plain a one-of-a-kind high alpine lodging settlement among the snow-gums a 15 minute drive from the resort. Pampering is the name of the game here – book in for a treat at the chic Breathtaker Spa and/or the Onsen Retreat + Spa. Japanese-inspired, the Onsen retreat offers 40 degree outdoor onsens (relaxation pools) designed for both bathing and rejuvenating the muscles and mind.

• Resort entry permits must be pre-booked online this year along with all lift passes and accommodation. Hotham has also just opened a coronavirus testing station located in the resort’s Corral Carpark.

Falls Creek VIC | Open Wednesday, June 24.

There is nowhere in Australia quite like this family-friendly enclave. Car-free and ski-in ski-out, Falls Creek village cascades prettily down a hillside deep in Victoria’s alpine. One of the greatest delights of staying here is the ability to ski home to your lodge down snowy streets while passing picturesque snow gums. Perfect for learners and those progressing to intermediate levels.

There is nowhere in Australia quite like this family-friendly enclave known as Falls Creek in Victoria.Source:Supplied

Must See & Do: Eat and drink at the swanky revamped Cloud Nine restaurant at the summit of the Halley’s comet chairlift. Overlook mountaintop vistas while enjoying waffles to wood-fired pizzas. Stay at Astra, 7-time winner of Australia’s best boutique ski hotel at the Annual World Ski Awards. Lap up the European hospitality and boost your skills with the internationally acclaimed Skimetric ski improvement system.

• Single and consecutive lift tickets currently available June 24-July 19 with several days sold out.

Buller VIC | Open Wednesday, June 24

Victoria’s equivalent to Thredbo: a high alpine experience combined with a sophisticated village. Buller’s extensive terrain is perfect for the adventurous as well as advanced who want to explore, and for the beginner and novice there is plenty of gentle cruisers. One of the few resorts where day tripping from a major capital city is possible thanks to being about three hours from Melbourne.

Mt Buller is Victoria’s answer to Thredbo. Picture: Mt BullerSource:Supplied

Must See & Do: Buller is renowned as the best place in Australia to go dog sledding. Australian Sled Dog Tours have operated tours here since 2014 with the stars of the show a team of enthusiastic Siberian huskies. Undoubtedly a bucket list experience. Tours operate throughout the entire season.

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