There’s two holiday experiences every kid should have – the feel of soft tropical island sand between their toes… and the crunch of just-fallen snow beneath their feet. We’ve already shown you the finest snow resorts in Canada, Europe and New Zealand. Now come with us and explore an alpine resort that’s closer to home.
Falls Creek, in Victoria, proudly lays claim to being the only true ski-in ski-out resort in the country. That means you can strap on the skis – or load the kids into the toboggan – right outside your door, or any other door in the village, and be on your way. That’s exactly what we did when we spent a week there with the kids just last month.
This was to be a special family trip because it was the first time my children – seven, four, and two – had ever seen snow. And Falls Creek didn’t disappoint, turning on a picture-perfect display of falling snowflakes just as we arrived, prompting the first magical moment of our holiday – our daughter, twirling in the snow with a look of pure joy on her face, calling out “mum, it’s just like fairy dust!”. Aaaaaw!
We stayed in one of the many self-contained apartments that dot the Falls Creek village, which has everything from budget lodge-style accommodation to luxurious serviced chalets and four and five-star hotels for those who want to live it up. Some of the lodges have their own cinemas, heated pools and kids’ clubs, while Mirvac’s Quay West Resort even boasts a day spa that’s very popular with mums.
There is plenty for children to do, with those of preschool age and older very well catered for. My eldest children went happily off to Falls Creek’s snowsports school, with separate groups for varying ages. Any fears I had that they would feel lonely or lost in a group of strangers, and without each other, were unfounded – they had a great time and staff had them skiing like pint-sized pros after only a day. They were served a hot cooked lunch each day, including stir fries, bangers and mash, and casseroles, with lots of hot chocolate in between all the outdoor adventuring to help warm them back up. The younger group divided their time between outdoor fun and indoor games and activities, while older kids spent most of their time on the slopes.
After finding their ski legs (and, it must be said, surprising both themselves and us at how easily they picked it up), our kids spent each morning in ski school before my husband collected them after lunch for some family time on the slopes. Our seven-year-old (pictured above) quickly became a ski junkie – if only teaching him to ride a bike sans training wheels had been this easy – and had to be dragged back to our apartment under duress each afternoon.
My daughter even shouldered her nerves and joined her brother and dad to ski down the main run – Wombat’s Ramble – on the last day of our stay, a winding two-and-a-half kilometre stretch from the summit all the way down the mountain. She was bursting with pride at her achievement, and I had to brush away a tear or two myself!
While the ski slopes are enough to keep you busy – there are ninety-two ski runs and fifteen lifts here – there’s plenty more for families to do. Making snowmen is just the most obvious start. Primary school aged children can feel what it’s like to fly with the Snow Bungy Trampoline down in the Village Bowl. We recommend giving it a go when it’s snowing so your kids can soar with the snowflakes! More adventurous families can try snow-shoeing, snow bike riding, snow tubing, helicopter joy rides or cross country skiing. The Falls Creek Nordic Centre can even pack you a picnic lunch to enjoy mid-adventure.
Toddlers might be too little for ski school, that doesn’t mean they miss out on the fun. My little one (below) had the time of his life watching the passing skiers, snow mobiles and buggies trundling past from the cosy comfort of our apartment, or rugged up outside on the front steps. When he wasn’t eating snow, he was throwing himself headlong into it making snow angels or tobogganing on the gentle slopes outside our apartment. Riding the ski lift was a huge adventure, and he couldn’t get enough rides in the snow transports, taking a particular liking to one driver who kept a pocketful of chocolates for his smallest passengers.
If you want to ski without worrying about your toddler, Falls Creek has a registered childcare centre or private babysitting can be arranged too. We booked a babysitter one night and escaped for a child-free dinner at one of the many restaurants – the first time we’d ever left the kids with a babysitter – and she won them over completely. Most of the restaurants and eateries here are child-friendly too, with many sporting kid menus. Our lot were too tired most nights to go out for dinner and we happily discovered that a few restaurants, like Oishii Go, offer a takeaway menu or even delivery.
It’s worth trying to fit in a Thursday night stay to take advantage of Falls Creek’s exciting night show, with thrilling ski displays and fireworks all the way through August. You can try night-skiing under lights on the main run too on certain nights, and Falls also puts on a family concert twice weekly with Pete the Snow Dragon and his friendly fairy friend that the kids just love .
Now, a word of warning. Ski hire gear is not glamorous, not one bit. If you wish to avoid feeling as daggy as my husband in his hideous brown hire jacket and me in my own tres-ugly number, I do recommend bringing your own! In fact, they were so incredibly daggy, we’re too embarrassed to show you a photo here! We’ll be investing in some stylish ski gear for next time, so we look more like this family below, after our kids made us promise to bring them back.
Falls Creek is a four-and-a-half hour drive from Melbourne (or slightly longer, if you factor in toilet stops for the kids!), two hours from Albury and a day’s drive from Sydney. The Australian ski season runs through until September. For more information about Falls Creek, or to explore accommodation options and holiday packages, visit Falls Creek Australia.