Fall in Love with Falls Creek
by Stephanie Williams
My first ski was at the age of about 16 at Ben Lomond. We only had one day up there and it was a literal crash course in skiing.
I learnt that the most effective way to stop on day one was by falling, and the poma (the little lift that takes you to the top) was not a seat. I also learnt that trackpants were not suitable ski attire.
Fast forward to more than 25 years later and I have a much better handle on skiing, as well as appropriate ski gear. I’m not out for heart-pumping black-run adventures, but I do love a good ski surrounded by beautiful mountains. The pandemic has put the snow plough on ski adventures the past few winters, but this year we decided to bite the bullet and enjoy a ski trip. It’s good to ski in Tassie, but it’s great to get up to the Victorian Alps and enjoy some longer, steeper runs.
For this trip, Falls Creek was our resort of choice, the northernmost Victorian resort. Although we’re Spirit of Tasmania veterans, this was our first trip into Geelong. We calculated that driving from Geelong as opposed to Melbourne added about half an hour onto our trip, which wasn’t so bad. Falls Creek is home to the largest ski/snowboarding terrain in Victoria and is a ski in/ski out village, which comes into it’s own when you’re getting kids out the door in the morning. It also makes it easy to just ski home for lunch and get back out there easily.
As we approached Falls Creek and ascended into the mountainous area, dustings of snow lined the road and the kids’ excitement built. My eldest has skied before but it was my youngest’s first time. Being ski in/ski out, you can’t drive directly to your accommodation. You can lug all your gear up into the village or opt for the oversnow – the main vehicular transport around the village. At this point, we resigned ourselves to the fact that nothing at the snow will be cheap, and paid for transfers up the hill. It turned out to be a super exciting experience for the kids, sitting in the front seat of the snow cat as it clawed it’s way up the hill. Once settled into the lodge we sorted out the kids ski rentals (Central Snowsports were very helpful and conveniently near our accommodation) and lift passes. At about $220 a day it feels like a fair whack, but we took the gamble on being able to ski each day and got a week long pass at a discounted price. If you’re really organised you can opt for an EPIC pass which gives you access all season and works out much cheaper.
On the first day, my eight year old went from being tentative to easily heading down the runs. Being school holidays, the ski school was heavily booked but we managed to get in for one fun day. It meant our youngest came to the Mum and Dad Ski School for the rest of his lessons. Talking him through the basics “pizza and fries” – fries when your skis are straight and pizza for when you bring your skis together into a point if you need to stop. He started to prefer skiing between our legs (because he could go faster!) so he joined us on some steeper runs. Australia’s longest green run, Wombat’s Ramble, becomes a favourite run, especially after discovering Slides Cafe at the bottom, adjacent to Halley’s Comet Chairlift. After thinking nothing was cheap on the mountain, I discovered they sell the most amazing caramel slice, good coffee and huge South Melbourne Market dim sims for $4.50. One and done! Another popular lunch option is Cloud 9 at the top of the mountain. The pizzas are quick and easy, as well as coffee, full bar and sweet treats. Any decent alpine resort should have a donut shop – Falls Creek has Snonuts, the perfect ending to a day on the slopes.
Non-skiers can also have loads of fun at Falls Creek. The toboggan park is a new addition – you need to book but it’s free and has a ‘magic carpet’ to take you from the bottom of the run back up to the top. You can also hire snow shoes, or head out hiking and be rewarded with stunning views over the lake and Mount Bogong.
After hours, the village is for exploring. Many lodges have a cafe, bar or restaurant and we set out to try a few. Head to The Frying Pan Inn for a drink, burgers and pub fare at the base of the Summit run. It’s especially good on Thursday nights after the weekly fireworks show which is right outside. The Chop House serves up excellent American BBQ inspired food – we enjoyed a feast of loaded fries, smoked meats, maple cornbread and kids burgers. And Astra Lodge is where to head for luxe apres over French bubbles and fine dining.
After a week of skiing, with a mix of bluebird days and low visibility, the kids are skiing beautifully and the parents are feeling like they’ve had an actually relaxing getaway. Descending the mountain, we were already planning our next trip.