Hit the slopes!

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OK so winter’s over – freezing nights and cold windy days are gone … Exactly! Crisp, not frigid, mornings in Australia’s alpine resorts are ideal for leaping out of bed early and hitting the slopes.

The still-firm snow crackles and breaks like a fresh-baked crusty loaf under your skis (or board) and is far more forgiving of error than winter’s hard-packed surface, and the weather’s welcoming, encouraging flinging off of anorak or parka and skiing in short sleeves, acquiring a glamorous snow tan along the way!

Lunchtimes in mid-winter can mean a mere quick stop for some much-needed nutrition to keep up the energy levels, but a reluctance to linger – because you get so cold if you don’t keep moving. By contrast, lunchtime in spring is an invitation to indulge, to laze back on the forecourt of a mid-mountain restaurant-chalet enjoying hearty pastas and hot chocolate, taking in the clear air, and regrouping for the afternoon’s attack on the piste. You needn’t worry about all those carbohydrates; they’ll soon be expended by a few vigorous runs.

Spring skiing is acknowledged as a distinct sporting pleasure in Europe and should be regarded similarly here too. There are fewer hard-running cowboys to contend with than in deep winter, road access is easier with no need for tyre chains or engine anti-freeze concerns, parking is more plentiful, the risk of injury is lessened, and the days and nights are far kinder to climate-timid souls, beginners and kids.

The best attraction in spring, however, is far more agreeable prices for accommodation, hire equipment if you need it, and lifts. Starting September 5 through to season’s end on the October long weekend and taking in the school holidays, Thredbo’s adult lift passes are around an affordable $70-$75 a day – great value, and your skiing day is essentially a longer one too, with fewer harsh weather conditions to deter long days on, usually, the same number of runs. There are many special offers and packages to be had at www.thredbo.com.au

My favourite spot to stay is at Banjo Apartments on Banjo Drive, ideally located in the centre of the village and with great views over the main mountain activities. The Thredbo bus stops right near the door and drops you at the valley terminal or the gentler slopes of Friday Flat where tiny tots from toddlers up can enjoy special kids’ club events. Our apartment at Banjo, two bedrooms plus a loft third bedroom and two cosy bathrooms, has a great wood fire, comfy lounge, full-length sunny deck, ski equipment storage and a dedicated car park right at the front door. The timber townhouse has a great alpine atmosphere and a terrific, spacious, fully-equipped kitchen for budget catering as well as great in-home party nights. There are flat screen TVs, CD player, microwave and dishwasher, washer and dryer – everything to make it a perfect retreat. Call booking agent Kasees Lodge next door on (02) 6457 6370 or 0408 633 992, speak to Ann or Cees Koeman and ask for the Crane apartment, or see www.kasees.com.au/banjoTownhouses.html

And what happens if the snow suddenly fails? It’s unlikely, with the excellent falls received this year plus state-of-the-art snow-making going on through the season but, if the worst happens, there’s heaps more to do than there is if you’re housebound by winter blizzards. There are scenic chairlift rides, cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing, self-guided tours and hiking, heated indoor swimming pool, massages, barbecues and horse riding, to name a few, and not to mention some great dining and fun gluhwein nights and dancing, entertainment and nightclubbing at Thredbo Keller.

Yes, babysitting is available.


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