I freely admit I was sceptical about skiing in Australia, some may even say contemptuous. I learned to ski in New Zealand and have since spent many happy ski holidays in the ski resorts of the European Alps. Australia doesn’t even have proper mountains. How can it possibly have proper skiing?
But I’m always ready to give something a go and last winter I was getting pretty desperate to play in the snow. So I drove three hours from Melbourne to Mt Buller in the Victorian Alps. I had no idea I was living so close to a ski resort. And it is a proper ski resort. There may not be any soaring snowy peaks surrounding it but it looks like a ski resort, sounds like a ski resort, feels like a ski resort…
There is a good selection of Mt Buller accommodation. You can stay right on the mountain (just like in Europe) or in one of the surrounding villages such as Mansfield. There are restaurants and bars and supermarkets and Mt Buller ski hire shops. Everything you need for a great ski holiday – just look at the smile on my face.
I was a bit mortified to realise that Mt Buller has more ski lifts and runs that most New Zealand ski resorts. There are over 300 hectares of skiable terrain and more than 80 kilometres of marked ski trails. It caters particularly well for intermediate skiers – which is what I am – and I found I could ski everything I tried on the mountain, even the black runs (in other words there is no challenging skiing here).
There are some lovely forest trails such as Wombat Run and Little Buller Spur. Just steer clear of the highway that is Bourke Street, which really is as busy as one of Melbourne city’s main thoroughfares at lunchtime!
Of course all the runs are not always open and the Mt Buller snow season will often necessarily be a relatively short one. Most of the snow I was skiing on was man made but it felt good for all that. They put a huge effort into snowmaking at Mt Buller and although this is reflected in the price of a Mt Buller lift pass, it does offer a decent ski experience. I had a really great time and promise never to be contemptuous about Australian skiing again.
I’d also love to come back to Mt Buller in the summertime. There are loads of walking trails through the vast expanse of forest that you can see stretching out to the horizon from the ski slopes. It’s beautiful Australian alpine bushland with or without the snow.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been skiing at Mt Buller Australia? Or perhaps another Australian ski resort?