Selwyn Snowfields, or Mt Selwyn as we used to call it more impressively back in the day, will be sadly missed in 2020.
With COIVD-19 restrictions playing havoc with normal access and use of the resorts, Selwyn’s role as the ideal cheaper, family, first timers and snow play favourite will be felt by all the people in those categories.
You can put us into several of those categories over the years, and still in all of them when it comes to introducing farther flung family to the snow, like the Queensland grandkids.
No Audis, Bimmers or Rangies here, no designer ski wear either. Just Aldi stuff stuffed in the back of the wagon, ute, van or old Patrol. And friends and family stuffed in the front.
We have a real soft spot for Selwyn. This is pretty much where it all began for Snow Action. Racing each other down Racecourse, Selwyn’s only real black run, were as happy ski times as we have had in 35 plus years of skiing all over the globe.
Making it all the way down without a yardsale, and beating sons/brothers/mates, was the bees knees.
It was also a lot cheaper than the alternatives of Thredbo or Perisher.
As was staying in Adaminaby, the main accommodation base for Selwyn and as sleepy as a country town gets. On our last stay in 2014 it was even sleepier than in the 1980s, which was pretty sad. We took our son, who had learnt to ski there with us 35 years before, and our four Queensland based grandkids who had never even seen snow before.
Selwyn makes things super simple.
Drive up, take the almost a flat car park walk to the base, gear up at the hire, walk out onto the snow and ski down. You can even take your own lunch and thermos of hot drinks and enjoy them in the free indoor shelter area – not that the food and coffee on offer is overpriced. But for a lot of families just trying the snow is a big stretch financially, so every bit saved helps.
The night we arrived it dumped all the way down to Adaminaby, so the kids got to make their first snowman too.
The then 10 year old summed up his first day of skiing, in a blizzard at Selwyn, like this,
“That was the best day in my entire life ever!”
Day two we woke up to rain outside our rented house in Adaminaby, and the adults looked at each other thinking, hmm, this sucks..
But the kids were so keen we had to go back for day two, and they didn’t care that it rained at all. Let’s face it, if you’ve never been skiing it is what it is, and it’s not what it is back home on the Gold Coast!
It turned to wet snow and reasonable snow and we all had fun in the end. The son was back into it after more than 20 years. Considering rustiness he was going great, till the inevitable happened in Pig Gully. The grandkid’s friendly instructor even found a bit of tree powder with me after their lesson.
It was great to get back there. One of our daughters was Selwyn’s telemark instructor for many seasons, and the staff were like family.
For many years also Selwyn supplied several family passes a season for my “Ask Doc Mogul” giveaway Q & A sessions in The Canberra Times each winter. Grateful letters and emails from happy recipients were always a reminder how appreciated it was.
Judging by the overwhelming response to news of the bushfires smashing it so badly in January there is plenty of latent love for the resort out there.
Skiing should not be limited to expensive resorts and upmarket experiences.
Hopefully Selwyn Snowfields will be back on board for 2020 better than ever after reconstruction.
In the meantime, if and when it snows enough and the Snowy Mountains Highway is open, for snowplay fun along the Highway past Kiandra is one of the cheapest ways (no KNP access fee required) to go and make a snowman and generally frolic in the white stuff with your kids.
There may be enough snow to make a kicker to session or scoot around on tele, skinning or AT skis as well. The ski area was originally on the hill behind Kiandra with a t-bar, before scetchy seasons saw it moved to nearby and higher Mt Selwyn.
We used to ski from the road down to the Eucumbene River occasionally back in the day when conditions allowed.
Selwyn in NSW and Baw Baw in Victoria offer easily our most affordable family skiing, the perfect opportunity to share the fun of the snow with your kids or grandkids. They are (temporarily were) essential feeders for the industry generally to introduce new people to the sport.
Vale Selwyn, see you again soon!
– Owain Price