Skiing and snowboarding in Australia

Snow in Australia? Am I crazy? It should be sunny and hot country, isn’t it? When I arrived to Australia first time I didn’t know you could see snow there and wasn’t thinking about skiing in Australia at all.
During rainy and windy day in Sydney I was looking that to do during winter as it is too cold go to the beach and was no much fun to do anything else out doors during such weather as even sea was too rough for whale watching in Sydney.  One weekend I spent in Canberra, but that to do next weekend?
I know you can go skiing in New Zealand, but you need to buy plane tickets in advance to get good deals, so I started to look for such activities in Australia. Tasmania has similar climate to New Zealand and it has mountains and I thought it should be ski area there. But to my surprise the best ski resort in Australia are located much closer to Sydney.

Perisher ski fields in Australia

Perisher ski fields in Australia

There are ski fields in Tasmania and Victoria, but the largest ski fields are in New South Wales on the boarder with Victoria state and actually the first ski club in the world in 1861 was established in Snowy Mountains in Australia. Who could thought Australia has such long history of skiing?
Two largest downhill ski resorts are located not far from highest peak (Mt Kosciuszko) in Australia.  Thredbo ski resort has longest ski run and Perisher ski resort has largest ski fields – 12 square kilometers (4.6 sq miles) and it calls itself as largest ski resort in Souther hemisphere.

Going down from Perisher peak in Australia

Going down from Perisher peak in Australia

Both resorts are located somewhere in the middle between Sydney and Melbourne and only ~60 kilometers (~40 miles) away from each other, so you can visit both on your trip to snowy mountains.


View Skiing/snowboarding in Australia in a larger map

Here is comparison of these two resorts if you want to choose one of these resorts.

 Perisher  Thredbo
 Top elevation  2054m / 6739ft*  2037m / 6683ft
 Base elevation  1640m / 5381ft  1365m / 4478ft
 Skiable area  1244ha / 3070acres  480ha / 1200acres
 Runs  126  46
 Lifts  49  14
 Longest run  5.9km / 3.67miles
 Begginer  22%  16%
 Intermediate  60%  54%
 Advanced  18%  30%
 Snowfall  1.9m / 75inches  2.04m / 80inches
 Lift pass 1 day  TBA**  $110**
 Lift pass 2 days  $230**  $220**
 Ski hire 1 day  $76**  TBA**
 Ski hire 2 days  $102**  $110**
 Snowboard hire 1 day  $83**  TBA**
 Snowboard hire 2 days  $120**  $110**
 Distance from Sydney  490km / 310 miles (6 hours)  495km / 310 miles (6 hours)
 Distance from Melbourne  610km / 380 miles (7.5 hours)  550km / 340 miles (7 hours)
 Accommodation  Perisher Valley / Jindabyne  Thredbo Village / Jindabyne

* you can go up to 2034 meters (6673 feet) elevation and then climb 20 meters (66 feet) to the nearest peak. Both picture bellow are done from that highest point.

** all prices are in Australian dollars. The price of lift pass and ski/snowboard rent shows how much you need to pay if you pay at the resort. You can get better deals by buying lift pass and hiring skies/snowboard online in advance. Or buy visiting resorts during low season. Check their websites for the deals.

My choice was Perisher, because by lift you can get up to 2034 meters (6673 feet) elevation and climb another 20 meters (66 feet) to the peak of Mt. Perisher for fantastic view.

View from Perisher peak in Australia

View from Perisher peak in Australia

Another view from Perisher peak in Australia

Another view from Perisher peak in Australia

I also need to note that you should carry snow chains as you may require to put it on in case of heavy snow in a ‘snow-ice’ risk section within the Kosciuszko National Park. Chains can be hired in Jindabyne and Khancoban or in Cooma if you are coming from Sydney/Canberra.

So enjoy the snow but be careful and don’t underestimate snow in Australia, as it happened to these cross-country skiers.

Many times, I will book a hotel in Canberra with Expedia and then drive to the mountain in the morning. This saves me money on every trip, since most of the resorts close to the ski hills are very expensive. Of course, this does mean that I risk driving in the snow, but it is worth it to save some cash every time I go skiing. It only takes about two hours to reach Perisher or Thredbo from Canberra, making it the perfect place to set up your home base if you are arriving from Sydney or Melbourne.