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Perisher for families

Perisher, part of the mighty Vail Resorts ski company, links Australian skiing to the world and still offers the best of what’s available down under, as Hilary Doling discovers.

F oaming hot chocolate with whipped cream as high as a mountain peak sat on the table in front of us. We were at the Avalunch Cafe near the base of the Pretty Valley Double Chair, deciding where to ski next. The trail map showed us valleys with names so appealing surely we can’t help but enjoy ourselves: Pretty Valley, Happy Valley and Sun Valley. My son was keen to try Australia’s only Superpipe housed on Front Valley, and I wanted to test my skills on Mother-in-Law, despite the intimidating name. Whatever we chose, with four valleys and over 1245 hectares of snowy terrain, we were spoilt for choice.

Best of all, at the end of the day we didn’t have far to go for a hot shower and an evening meal because one of the best things about Perisher is the opportunity to stay right on the snow. Families who choose this option reach their accommodation by Hans Oversnow, a transporter with caterpillar treads that crawls slowly up the incline. When we arrive flakes are falling fast, great splodges hitting the windscreen. My son has a grin from ear to ear; falling snow means fun. The lodges scattered around the edge of the slopes look as if they are snoozing under great doonas of the white stuff, piled on their roofs.

Convenience on the slopes
You could drive up from Jindabyne and park your car for the day, but why would you? It is far more exciting to take the Skitube, the special train which whizzes you right up to the centre of Perisher. Those staying on snow for a few days can park in the overnight car park in Bullocks Flat at the bottom of the Skitube. Simply roll your cases onto the train and porters will help you transport them to the upper level when you arrive.

Once at the top, anywhere you stay on the mountain is just a short walk to a lift or a run and Perisher has a full range of accommodation from star-rated hotels to cosy intimate lodges. We are staying at Perisher Manor, a family-owned and -operated hotel, with an unbeatable location right by the Village 8 Express chair and warm hospitality. It boasts one of only a few truly ski-in, ski-out locations on the mountain.

Perisher’s Snowy Day Care is perfect for the non-skiing littlies. Ski school caters for all ages right up to easily bored teenagers. Kids are grouped with other children of similar age and standard when taking part in any snowsports activities, so new friends are often made on the slopes.

International appeal
Perisher was established in 1995 following the merger of four separate resorts – Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Mt Blue Cow and Guthega – making it the largest ski resort in the southern hemisphere. Last year it joined the mighty Vail Resorts family.

The good news for visitors is that this means you can purchase an Epic Australia Pass which gives you unlimited skiing and boarding at Perisher during the 2016 ski season. More than that, it also gives you access to eight world-class resorts in the United States for the 2016/2017 ski season including Park City, Northstar, Keystone, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Breckenridge and 10 days at Vail and/or Beaver Creek combined.

A wealth of activities
However, there’s plenty to entertain in Australia. It takes seven mountain peaks to make up Perisher’s ski area, with 22 per cent of the terrain suiting beginners. The resort’s other credentials are impressive, too. It has 47 lifts, which can shift 53,990 riders per hour. Kids will love the fact there are two Rider X courses, five terrain parks (including one under lights) – more than any other Australian alpine resort. There is also a halfpipe and a mini halfpipe at Yabby Flats.

Add to this the option to try ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing and you may have to stay on snow for the whole season (June to October) just to get through all the activities. Every parent knows that it is hard to scoop ski-mad kids off the slopes at the end of the day. Luckily every Tuesday (all season) and Saturday (July and August) evenings there’s night skiing on Front Valley. We were there on a chilly Tuesday and I wimped out, watching from the window as the chairlift kept going until 9.30pm, carrying hardy skiers up into the misty night.



Getting There
Drive yourself or fly to Cooma with Regional Express Airlines (from Sydney) or Canberra (other major airlines) and catch a transfer. You must purchase a Skitube ticket for travel between Bullocks Flat and Perisher Valley which can be added on to your lift ticket at a discounted rate.


Thumbs up
The Snowy Daycare is good for the non-skiing littlies. Kids from three onwards can take lessons and are grouped by age and standard. Kids’ lessons are available for all ages up to 15 years.

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