2017 is shaping up as a great time to ski Victoria. It’s easy to get set in our snow habits and just default to the regular/closer option – which for NSW skiers & boarders means Thredbo or Perisher. But it’s quite amazing the difference between the two sides of the border, so if you’ve never been to ski Victoria, or not for a while, there are plenty of reasons stacking up why you could/should check out Buller, Hotham and/or Falls this season.
Terrain is one, as Tony Harrington summed it up in his WILD BULLER feature for our WILD SOUTH issue.
“In the early days (doing seasons in Thredbo) I occasionally raised the question to friends of “What about a trip to Buller?”, but no-one really hyped it up, so it wasn’t until my first trip there in 2005 that I had my eyes opened up to the gold that this mountain offers.”
“Buller’s South facing Summit Chutes feature some of the rowdiest terrain in Australia and beyond to ski. It’s a place where local knowledge, patience and skill can make the difference between life, death and everything in between.”
Now he calls it home, running The Photo Shop and a new Ripcurl store there this winter. He is making use of that terrain to launch Australia’s most anticipated freeride event in a long time, Buller X. That gives our top ski and snowboard athletes the chance to test themselves in the awesome terrain available here when conditions permit.
What’s shaping up as Australia’s most innovative snowmaking set up is another. Buller’s new Snow Fridge basically can make snow anytime – they even did on a sunny day back in March for a demo, and are cranking it up to gaurantee runs open for June Long Weekend opening day. The Bourke Street slope has started many thousands on a path to snow enjoyment, and it doesn’t get much simpler to enjoy than from accommodation options either side like Pension Grimus (voted Australia’s Best Ski Hotel at the World Ski Awards 4 years in a row!), Mt Buller Chalet, or the Ski Club of Victoria’s lodges.
The in snow village experience sets all of the big 3 Victorian ski Resorts apart – at Buller and Hotham the villages straddle the mountain heights, while Falls is tucked into an above snowline bowl. Proximity to Melbourne means Buller has a huge village buzz on weekends, and a connection from great coffee to restaurants that many of that clientele expect, never mind the pumping nightlife plenty also expect.
At Hotham things are more strung out, straddling the road, but there’s no shortage of activity and starting pretty much on top of the mountain and skiing down is different to all our other resorts, albeit also possible on some runs at Buller and Falls depending on where you are staying. New luxury developments have added greatly to the accommodation mix over the past 20 years at Hotham, but the ski club lodges remain a key part of the equation and great to stay at, especially for families.
Our three year old Hotham star from the new issue got his opportunity because his parents are keen members of Arrabri Lodge, and the supporting environment of the lodge is great for getting kids into snow sports.
Hotham locals and regulars will swear by their terrain as the best too, with some genuinely steep powder lines off the lifts. Get lucky and you do get Australia’s lift-accessed best pow lines here.
Hothams 3 for 2 midweek magic lift pass deal is a great way to discover it – $233 for a 3 day pass Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday adults, $130 kids.
Neighbouring Falls is mellower terrain wise, and also perfect for families, but more testing terrain is readily accessed – best done with Steve Lee’s snowmobile service out to Mt Mackay. Falls Alpine Touring Programs using AT gear will get you out to great terrain there in no time.
Another thing setting Victoria apart are the burlier access roads – especially at Hotham. If you don’t want to take your own vehicle get on Europcar’s snow packages with 2 day or more rentals including snow chain vouchers and snow damage cover to drive above the snowline.
The only downside to Victorian skiing is their overnight car parking fees make NSW National Park fees look cheap – be nice if someone had a look at lowering those.
To check out deals to ski Victoria go to