Mt. Selwyn   Leave a comment

Thursday, 19th July, 2012

‘It’s always hot and sunny in Australia!’ I kept being told before I left the UK for Canberra. So imagine my surprise when I found out you can go skiing in the mountains less than three drive from our place. There are three main ski resorts in the Snowy Mountains located in southern NSW, with the state of Victoria having some as well. Perisher and Thredbo are the main resorts on either side of a mountain called Kosciusko. Both of these ranges have many excellent ski runs of varying difficultly all serviced by ski lifts and all the paraphernalia you associate with any alpine resorts. Both of these centres are geared towards the serious skier and unless you’re after ski or board lessons or a confident skier it’s probably not a good idea to head up that way. However, there is a third smaller area on the Snowy Mountains which claims that it caters for younger families without much ski experience or those that just want to have some fun in the snow. This place is called Mt. Selwyn.

So after a day’s rest, in which we went and hired some cold weather gear (trousers, jacket and snow boots), the plan was to get up early drive to Mt Selwyn and spend the best part of the day on the slopes, tubing and tobogganing. So it was off to bed early and the alarm set for 6am. However, as you know by now, getting Ciara out of bed at any time before 11am in the morning always going to be a challenge, so it was around 8am before we left the apartment for the two and half hour drive up to the resort. The journey up there can split into two parts, the first is a straight run up to a town called Cooma. Here, the road splits and you either go to up to Perisher/Thredbo, while the other way skirts round a huge lake called Eucumbene up to the snowfields of Mt. Selwyn. Whilst at Cooma, we took the opportunity to stop at the first service station to fill the car up and also to buy some sandwiches and drinks for lunch on the slopes. Outside the petrol station I noticed loads of chains hanging up on racks, ‘what are those for?’ I asked the attendant, ‘Where are you going?’ he asked me. Turns out that during the ski season all non four-wheel drive vehicles going up to the alpine resorts MUST carry snow chains and these must be fitted to the drive wheels when instructed to do so by the police. So with a set of hire chains safely stored in the boot and $20 lighter, we set off on the second part of the journey.

Let me just say, that up until this point, neither of us had seen any snow! Even though the snow reports all said the three main areas were covered in the stuff. After assuring Ciara that once we started driving up into the mountains we’d see plenty of it, I was getting a bit worried and my fears were confirmed, when Ciara turned to me and asked where all the snow was. Even as we entered the Kosciusko National Park ($27 entrance fee for each car), there was no sign of it, even though there were lots of signs telling us to prepare to put on our snow chains. The lady at the toll booth helpfully told us that this was the worst year so far for snow but there was a good covering in the ski resort itself. Re-assuring!

Even as we entered the massive car park at  the resort, there was no snow, except for a few bits piled up at the sides. So it was great dis-appointment that we donned our gear and walked up towards the main entrance. When we got there, it couldn’t be more different, snow and lots of it everywhere. Turns out that they have these massive snow making machines dotted all over the resort to give nature a bit of helping hand. The tubing runs were closed, even though the website said they were open, so we had to make do with the tobogganing run which was located just outside the main complex. Unfortunately, there was no ski lift back to the top of the slope after we’d slid down it, so it was a bit of hike back. After an hour or so the cold weather gear was making us very hot and took a break by laying down in the snow while we watched the others on the slopes. Took a few pictures of the actual ski runs and it all looked like a very nice little resort. The going down the hill bit was great but logging the toboggan back up again was becoming a bit of a drag, so we grabbed our lunch and sat down in the outdoor café area near the start of the ski lifts into the main ski runs.

The sun had been out all morning which pushed the temperature above freezing and this was starting to effect the condition of the snow on the tobogganing run at least, so we were forced to use the slope reserved for the tubing which was a lot longer and faster, which was great. The resort staff weren’t too happy about us using this slope, but as several people pointed, we had paid good money to have a full days tobogganing. At around three with the snow getting really patchy in places we decided to pack up for the day and head home. I was secretly delighted, as I was knackered after all that hill climbing.

On the way back to Cooma to drop of the snow chains (fat chance of using them today!) we stopped off in the town for a quick look round and grab a MacDonald’s to fortify us for the journey home. It was a nice run back to Canberra, where Ciara fell asleep in the back of the car and it was well into the evening when we arrived home to sort the gear out for returning it to the hire shop. All in all a great day out and I for one would go back up to the Snowy Mountain ski resorts, where maybe I would have some ski/boarding lessons.


Posted July 19, 2012 by yermandownunder in Observations, Travels

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