Contrary to popular belief, Australia does get a ski season. Admittedly it’s usually short, and boosted by snow making; so downhill skiing can get expensive. I decided to try out cross country skiing because it offers more ski locations and is cheaper. I didn’t know anything about the sport before I tried it, and for the most part I’m self taught so I’ve got a lot to learn! Here’s what I’ve found out so far:
1. It is cheaper
This is an easy win – there’s no need to buy a lift pass, so you’re already around AU$100 richer! Equipment hire seems to be a little cheaper too by about AU$30 or so. We use clothing we already have: thermals, a raincoat. I wear my water resistant cycling pants, my friend uses gardening gloves on his hands!
2. There are lots of places to ski
There are cross country trails at all four downhill resorts in Victoria: Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw. On top of that, there’s also Mt Stirling, Lake Mountain and Mt St Gwinear. That’s a collective 248km of trails available, so that’ll keep me busy for a while. So far I’ve skied some of Lake Mountain, Falls Creek and Mt Stirling’s trails.
Lake Mountain and Mt St Gwinear are within two hour’s drive from Melbourne, so they make great day trips. Mt Stirling has an alpine camp; an affordable and comfortable way to try out snow camping. It provides the tents and cooking equipment so you don’t have to carry in heaps of equipment.
3. It’s a great work out
You work up a sweat! Because you’re moving your legs and your arms, cross country skiing is good cross training. I’ve learnt to wear a light outfit; anything more and I overheat! Come prepared with enough food, you burn a lot of energy and get hungry easily.
4. It can be worth hiring off mountain
I don’t have my own skis yet. Until I feel confident enough to invest in my own set, I’ve hired on mountain. Lake Mountain staff are friendly and efficient, but there are so many customers it can take ages to get equipment. Mt Stirling’s equipment is manual release, and more expensive than other locations I’ve hired so I’d try off mountain next time.
5. I love it!
It’s such a good feeling to be skiing amongst eucalypts on a clear day. I’ve discovered that cross country is like bushwalking on skiis. It doesn’t compare to downhill for pace or agility but my speed-loving husband still enjoys our trips out…so long as he gets to charge ahead! I’d love to build up to overnight trips, using the many huts dotted throughout the alpine parks.