By: Rebecca Johnson
Perisher Ski Resort – the Gem of the Australian Alps
Tucked among the mountains and valleys of Australia’s Snowy Mountains, Perisher Ski Resort is an amalgamation of the Blue Cow, Smiggins Holes, Guthega and Perisher Valley ski areas. In addition to being the largest ski resort in Australia and New Zealand, Perisher Ski Resort is also known for its world class facilities and for being home to the Australian National Freestyle Ski Team and the Australian National Snowboard Team. Located 30 minutes from Jindabyne in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park, the resort is 8 km from Charlottes Pass and 15 km from Thredbo.
The first ski lodge in the area was opened in 1951 and by 1958 the first rope tow and T bar were built on the mountain, easing the over snow transportation for visitors. Since the resort’s founding there has been steady development, including the installation of world class facilities, accommodation, hi tech snow making operations and national and international training facilities.
In 1995 Perisher Blue was formed, merging Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Perisher Valley. In 2009 the resort amalgamation changed its name to simply Perisher Ski Resort.
Due to its climate and the location, no Australian resort is 100% natural snow and Perisher is no exception. With 271 snowguns in their snowmaking inventory, the mountain operations crew at Perisher covers 53.4 hectares across the resort including at Smiggins Holes, Blue Cow and Perisher Valley. They recently upgraded their equipment in 2008, spending $9.75 million on new equipment including 68 automated snowguns.
Perisher Ski Resort covers 1245 hectares and includes 126 runs with the run difficulties graded 22% beginner, 60% intermediate and 18% advanced. Although the resort does seem more suited for beginner to intermediate skiers/boarders, the advanced runs do offer their own challenges for the advanced athlete.
One of the attractions of the resort is the sheer size of it. It’s so large in fact; you can ski/board all day and not ride the same lift twice! With the snow covered interconnections, you can switch ski areas and not have to leave the hill, although it does require some map familiarization to ensure you don’t get too lost up there.
Due to the vast size of the resort, Perisher offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, ice skating, snow shoeing and snow tubing. There is definitely something for everyone’s tastes.
There are plenty of ways to get to Perisher. If driving, it’s an easy 6 hour drive from Sydney or a 7 hour drive from Melbourne. There are numerous couch tours and routes that include Jindabyne on their schedule. If the idea of sitting in a vehicle for that long makes you edgy, Aeropelican offers regular direct flights from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains Airport. Either way, check with your travel agent for all options available to you from your current location.
The ski resorts of the Snowy Mountains have the best skiing and snowboarding in Australia, and offer locals and international visitors alike the opportunity to ski among the snow gums and eucalyptus. The season is short and intense, lasting only 4 months from June until October. With opposite seasons, the Australian ski resorts offer northerners the chance to ski through their summer and practice for the upcoming northern winter.
Traveler, writer and nomad. I experienced the skiing in the Snowy Mountains on my trip around Australia in 2010 and fell in love with the area. So much so that I created a website about it. The snow, the red sand and the beaches just add to the mystique that is the land down under.