Looking for a powder fix this Summer? Why not try down under? The southeastern states of New South Wales and Victoria are home to a whole bunch of diverse ski areas, and we’ve skied them all again and again to give you our pick of the best 5!
Known For: Being easy to reach from Melbourne (by Australian standards, it’s still a 3-hour drive!)
- Solid snow grooming keeps slopes in good shape
- Fantastic views over the Victorian Alps and Delatite Valley
- Fun après ski scene at one of the largest ski villages in Australia
- Crowds can get overwhelming, particularly on weekends
- Not enough parking spaces close to the slopes
Combining quality ski trails, spectacular scenery, and first-rate resort facilities, Mt Buller certainly has a lot going for it. With two distinct mountainsides, there’s a choice between the Northern Slopes, packed with blue runs, and the Southern Slopes, where black trails reign. The Bourke Street beginners ski area is just like the actual street in Melbourne; very busy and best avoided when you can!
The Largest Ski Lift Network in Victoria
Mt Buller stacks up a total of 22 lifts to serve its 299 ha of skiable terrain, with its ABOM Express six-person chairlift whisking skiers up the mountain in just 4 minutes! Riding one more chair gets you to 1,780 m, the highest point accessible by lift in the resort, and from here experts can hike to some out of bounds double black diamond terrain. Funnily enough though, even with all its lifts, Mt Buller still has fewer ski runs than Falls Creek (which has just 14 lifts).
Bars, Spas, and Toboggan Parks!
Once you’re done with skiing there’s still plenty more to keep you busy at Mt Buller. Over 30 bars and restaurants create a vibrant après ski scene that’s not to be missed. The Kooroora Hotel is a top spot to party, and for the morning after why not indulge yourself at a day spa! The Breathtaker On High Spa Retreat is one of the best in town, and if you’ve got kids with you there’s not one but two toboggan parks here to keep them busy.
Getting there: 3-3.5 hours drive from Melbourne
Cost: One Day Lift Pass (Advance) - Adult $90 USD ($116 CAD) / Kids $53 USD ($68 CAD) / Age 65 & Over $53 USD ($68 CAD) / Age 5 & Under or Age 70 & Over $4 USD ($5 CAD)
Learn more about Mount Buller
Known For: Serving up stacks of intermediate-friendly terrain, both on and off-piste
- Not much advanced terrain to keep expert skiers busy
- Black trails are always last to open and first to close
- Poor snow years can leave some runs closed all season
Falls Creek is a firm favourite amongst intermediate skiers from Victoria, with its wide ski fields, mellow pitches, and friendly village atmosphere all being a big draw. The peak of Mt McKay is a magnificent backdrop and the Summit chair will get you as high as 1,780 m, where peak season snow is reliable.
The Most Skiable Terrain in the State
It may only be a third of the size of Perisher in New South Wales, but Falls Creek beats all other ski resorts in Victoria when it comes to the number of trails it has to carve up. There are 92 runs in total and with so much choice the slopes rarely get crowded. If that’s not enough, snowmobile backcountry tours open up empty bowls and cruisey tree skiing for your best chance at scoring freshies! Down in the village, it’s another story, the north facing roads can quickly lose their snow cover which means you might end up walking to the lifts from your ski-in/ski-out accommodation!
Top Spot for Cross-Country Skiing
There’s over 64 km of groomed cross-country ski trails to explore at Falls Creek, and it won’t cost you a cent to access them. First timers can even get a free hour of cross-country ski gear rental to give it a try! Experienced Nordic skiers looking for a challenge should attempt the 14 km Heathy Spur trail, or even take part in the annual Kangaroo Hoppet cross-country marathon. It’s held on the fourth Saturday of August and attracts competitors from across the world!
Getting there: 4.5 hour drive from Melbourne
Cost: One Day Lift Pass (Advance) - Adult $95 USD ($122 CAD) / Kids $53 USD ($68 CAD) / Age 65 & Over $53 USD ($68 CAD) / Age 5 & Under or Age 70 & Over - Free
Learn more about Falls Creek
Known For: Having the five longest ski runs in Australia and some decent vertical drop too!
- Bustling alpine village that caters well for foodies and partygoers
- Lots to do besides skiing including backcountry snowshoe tours
- You can ski here with a Mountain Collective Pass
- Low base elevation of 1,365 m means snow can get slushy at the bottom
- Dull Friday Flat beginner area could leave newbies uninspired
One of the best-known resorts amongst Australian skiers, there really is a little something for everyone at Thredbo. Whether it’s a top-to-bottom schuss down the 5 km Village Trail (the longest ski run in the country) or dining at the Eagle’s Nest, Australia’s highest restaurant. With 50 ski trails in total, it’s not the biggest ski resort down under by a long shot, but it holds enough national records to make up for it!
Can’t Be Beat on Vertical Drop
With the highest vertical drop in Australia and some respectable steeps, experienced skiers should try the Funnel Web black trail for a challenge, or even drop over the ridge into the Golf Course Bowl. Intermediate runs are the mainstay here, with almost two-thirds of all the runs being blues. First-timers might be a little disappointed with the slushy Friday Flat beginners area, but there are some greens at the top of the mountain with better snow quality.
Terrific Backcountry and Terrain Parks
Thredbo is nestled below Australia’s highest peak, the mighty Mt Kosciuszko. While the highest lift-served point in the resort is a little lower than the summit at 2,037 m, it’s a handy jump off point for backcountry tours! If you’re more freestyle than freeride, there are four terrain parks with everything from mellow introductory features to expert big air kickers. What’s more, there’s also a mogul slope and two rider cross courses to try out!
Getting there: 6 hours drive from Melbourne or Sydney and 2.5 hours drive from Canberra
Cost: One Day Lift Pass (Advance) - Adult $92 USD ($119 CAD) / Kids $50 USD ($64 CAD) / Age 65 & Over $50 USD ($64 CAD) / Age 5 & Under - Free
Learn more about Thredbo
Known For: Its unique upside-down layout, the ski village is at the top of the mountain!
- Amazing ski terrain by Australian standards (when the snow gods deliver)
- Doesn’t suffer from crowds like other Victorian ski resorts (particularly Mt Buller)
- Some of the best ski-in/ski-out lodgings in Australia, all high up on the mountain
- Great dining options, don’t miss Zirky’s for delicious food and glühwein any time of day!
- It’s rare for the entire ski area to open up, poor snowfall has a big impact here
- The kid’s ski area is inconveniently located away from the resort center
- Treacherous drive to the mountain village, don’t do it at night or in poor visibility
Taking our silver medal is Mt Hotham, the go-to resort for experienced skiers who’ll settle for nothing less than the country’s most challenging terrain. It’s home to Mary’s Slide, the steepest double black diamond run in the country, and has the highest ratio of black trails of any Australian ski resort. Though it's nothing as gnarly compared to Europe or North America, it’s certainly enough to get your heart pumping!
Highest Average Annual Snowfall of All the Resorts in Victoria
No other ski resort in Victoria enjoys more altitude than Mt Hotham. Lifts will get you as high as 1,845 m, and from up there you have a reasonable 395 m of vertical drop to race down. Being so high in the Victorian Alps, combined with its southern location, means Mt Hotham comes out on top when comparing the average annual snowfall of Victoria’s ski resorts. Get here when it’s a dumping and you might just score powder freshies!
Sublime Views Surround this Unique Mountain Village
Most ski resorts have a base at the bottom of the mountain, but not Mt Hotham. The ski village is perched on an alpine ridge that’s blanketed with snow during the winter. Stay up here and you’ll have views of the clouds alongside the white slopes below! With over 20 restaurants and bars to dine and drink in there’s no shortage of après ski fun, not to mention the snow tubing, tobogganing, and 35 km of cross-country ski trails to explore!
Getting there: 4.5 hours drive from Melbourne or 8 hours from Sydney
Cost: One Day Lift Pass (Advance) - Adult $95 USD ($122 CAD) / Child & Senior $53 USD ($68 CAD)/ Age 5 & Under or Age 70 & Over - Free
Learn more about Mount Hotham
Known For: Being a massive ski area, not only the largest in Australia but the entire Southern Hemisphere!
- A diverse variety of terrain to keep skiers of all abilities happy
- Trails and lifts are cleverly interconnected to link up four different ski areas
- Lots to do off the slopes if there’s poor snow or huge crowds
- Handy Skitube alpine railway helps you avoid icy roads to the resort
- Far too many long T-bar lifts still in operation
- Heavily reliant on natural snow to keep slopes and connecting runs open
The trophy for Australia’s number one ski resort goes to Perisher, and not just because it’s the biggest. This place is an all-singing, all-dancing alpine resort with stacks of activities and facilities to keep you entertained off the slopes. With the once separate ski areas of Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow, and Guthega all combined to create the Vail-owned Perisher ski resort, there’s an impressive 1,245 ha of skiable terrain to explore.
5 Terrain Parks Make It a Top Choice for Tricksters
Freestyle skiers and snowboarders will find parks, half pipes, and rider cross courses to test every skill level. Piper Park features mellow rollers and rails to get first-timers started, while Blue Cow park features expert kickers ranging from 5 m all the up to 11 m! For tabletop jumps and big curved banks take on the Sun Valley Rider Cross course, but save something in the tank for Perisher’s 5 m half pipe, it’s the only one of its kind in the country!
Keep Skiing Into the Night or Watch the Fireworks
The fun isn’t over when the sun goes down at Perisher, because every Tuesday and Saturday the Front Valley slope is lit up for night skiing. The Village Eight Express chairlift keeps whisking you up the mountain until 9:00pm, and for all the non-skiers there’s a huge fireworks display on the same days. All through the year Perisher hosts festivals and events, like the Peak Music Festival, the BrewSki Festival, and the wacky Perisher Pond Skim, so check out what’s happening before you go!
Getting there: 5-6 hours from Sydney or 6 hours from Melbourne and 2.5 hour drive from Canberra
Cost: Two Day Lift Pass (Advance) - Adult $175 USD ($226 CAD) / Kids $96 USD ($124 CAD) / Age 65 & Over $131 USD ($169 CAD) / Age 5 & Under - Free
Learn more aboutPerisher