Australia Holidays: Why a ski trip to Thredbo, NSW should be on your bucket list this winter

Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Photo / Destination New South Wales

A little piece of Europe across the divide, Thredbo is the perfect location for your next ski holiday.

Installing a new mountain gondola would be difficult at the best of times, let alone while bushfires raged nearby and a deadly global pandemic took hold. Incredibly, these factors only delayed the opening of Australia’s first alpine gondola by two weeks.

On June 20, 2020, the ski resort of Thredbo in the Australian Alps unveiled the 1.3km long Merritts Gondola. The $15 million system was a game-changer, dramatically increasing throughput, cutting download times to six minutes, and giving non-skiers access to on-mountain restaurants.

Thredbo has been named Australia’s best ski resort five years in a row, made even more attractive with upgraded facilities and a host of new experiences. Thinking of taking a winter break across the divide this year? Here’s what you need to know.

Thredbo Village, Thredbo.  Photo / Destination New South Wales
Thredbo Village, Thredbo. Photo / Destination New South Wales

The mountain
Located in Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Thredbo has almost double the vertical drop of any other Australian resort (672m). It also boasts Australia’s longest downhill ski run (the thigh-testing 3.7km Supertrail), Australia’s highest point (2037m at the top of Karels T-bar) and the restaurant the tallest in Australia (the 1930m high Eagles Nest).

There’s an impressive variety of terrain, from Friday Flats, a well-equipped beginner’s area with gentle slopes and easy lifts, to black runs and off-piste bowls for advanced snowboarders and skiers. Intermediates are especially catered for with plenty of long, tree-lined cruisers descending the mountain.

Aerial junkies can get their fix at the resort’s two terrain parks while the more intrepid can sign up for a backcountry excursion to hunt hidden bowls and secret mountain hideouts.

There are quirky features too, like the Thredbo Community Bell atop the Karels T-Bar (ringing it is a rite of passage for beginners), plus the novelty of skiing through native Australian gum trees.

Australia's highest point, Thredbo.  Photo / Destination New South Wales
Australia’s highest point, Thredbo. Photo / Destination New South Wales

On average, the resort receives almost two meters of snow a year, but there are extensive snowmaking facilities for those times when nature does not cooperate.

In 2021, Thredbo became the first Australian ski resort to achieve EarthCheck Gold certification for its environmental initiatives, which include energy conservation, emission reduction and waste management. It was also the first Australian ski resort to power all of its main operations with 100% renewable and clean energy; In addition, it is well on its way to eliminating all single-use plastics in front of the house.

Snow blankets the landscape at Thredbo, Snowy Mountains.  Photo / Destination New South Wales
Snow blankets the landscape at Thredbo, Snowy Mountains. Photo / Destination New South Wales

The village

If there’s one thing that sets Thredbo apart from other winter playgrounds in Australia, it’s the resort’s quaint European-style village. Conveniently located at the foot of the mountain, it’s a small group of cozy lodges, restaurants and bars, many of which were built by Czech immigrants in the mid-1950s (visit the Thredbo Alpine Museum to learn more about the station’s fascinating history).

You’ll find an impressive array of restaurants ranging from casual, family-friendly affairs such as the T-Bar Restaurant to intimate venues such as the Candlelight Lodge, where you can sample Alpine specialties such as cheese fondue and spatzles washed down with a beat chest. schnapps (or three).

Candlelight Lodge, Photo/Brett Hemmings, Destination NSW
Candlelight Lodge, Photo/Brett Hemmings, Destination NSW

There is a wide range of accommodation, including chalets, boutique lodges and self-catering apartments, but the most convenient option is easily the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, which is a short walk from the base and has a cozy fireside lounge serving a medium espresso martini. .

Non-skiers are also well catered for with plenty of cozy cafes, a well-equipped leisure center and self-guided art and eco walks.

The scene

The station’s founders decided to create a mini-St. Anton and Thredbo are certainly the most European Australian ski resorts. This is partly due to the village’s intimate atmosphere and ubiquitous alpine architecture, but it’s also thanks to the resort’s legendary events and afternoon scene.

If you’re lucky enough to score a lunch reservation at Kareela Hutte, a cozy, ski-in ski-out mountain restaurant, get ready for an indulgent feast of schnitzel, pork knuckle and goulash.

As the schnapps and champagne flow and the music rises, things can get quite lively (singing and dancing are not uncommon), which can make for an interesting downhill ski run. Merritts Mountain House is another popular afternoon spot, with the added bonus that it can be reached by non-skiers via the Merritts Gondola.

Once back at base, you’re just a mitt’s throw away from the Alpine Bar, where skiers and snowboarders congregate around firepits to swap stories of the day. Expect even more exuberance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with a stellar après-ski lineup, if years are any indication.

Saturday evenings are also traditionally the time to see the resort’s famous Flare Run, a 30-year-old institution where a group of expert skiers and snowboarders race down the Supertrail with flares before the sky is lit up with a spectacular fireworks. A kid-friendly version sees little ones ride the sweet Easy Does It run while holding flashing LED lights.

Saturday night tradition at Thredbo.  Photo / Destination New South Wales
Saturday night tradition at Thredbo. Photo / Destination New South Wales

Control List

GETTING THERE
Thredbo is about a six hour drive from Sydney and Melbourne and a 2.5 hour drive from Canberra.

Qantas offers flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Snowy Mountains Airport in Cooma, which is an hour’s drive from the resort. qantas.com

Y SKIING
Conditions permitting, the station will begin winter operations on June 11 and will remain open until October 3. For season prices and more information on this year’s events, thredbo.com.au

Please check the latest border restrictions in each state and territory before travelling. For more information, visit australia.com

About George Dailey

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