Snow doubt about it, Thredbo has exceptional runs

It’s early evening at Thredbo. My quads and calves are burning from a day on the mountain.

I stand with my glass of wine as the open fire crackles away. Someone is having a gentle pass at some early Neil Young on the guitar. I’m looking out across the valley as evening falls and the lights are coming on in the chalets.

They’re always telling us to live in the moment, so I might choose to live in this one.

So how did I get to this moment? It’s firmly in the you-don’t-know-what-you’re-missing category. Luckily it only took me 20 years to find out exactly what I was missing.

Twenty years is how long my friend has been urging me to get to Thredbo. He managed a lodge there.

He said, “You’d love it. Skiing’s amazing and there’s wine and a fire at the end of the day. Thredbo’s the best resort in the country by far,” he said.

“Its runs are longer and wider and it’s comparable to the famous ski fields in France and Switzerland. So,” he said, “just get in the car and drive up. It’s only a 12-hour return trip from Melbourne.”

And still I said no. A few times over those years. What is wrong with me? He had me – or stopped me – at “12-hour drive”.

Drive to Thredbo? Nah, why not take the bus? Photo: Getty

My love of road trips has, over the years, receded. But finally, last year, my curiosity about Thredbo proved to be too great.

A friend I hadn’t seen in years phoned and suggested we head up to Thredbo to stay with our other mutual lodge-managing friend.

I was in, but still reluctant to drive. Maybe after all the lockdowns every moment at your destination is precious and the 12 hours on the road could be better spent on the mountain. Maybe it sometimes is about the destination more than the journey.

Again late to the party, I thought a cool way to get there was to fly from Melbourne to Canberra and then – and this is the good part – take a bus to Thredbo, a bus that takes you from the airport to the village at Thredbo, to virtually the base of the first ski run.

So that’s how, after 20 years of wondering, I got to Thredbo. And it could not have been easier.

In the one-hour flight from Melbourne you barely have time to finish your coffee before you are waiting at the bus stop at Canberra Airport with some ski travellers loaded with huge parcels containing skis, poles, helmets and skiing clothes. My small carry-on bag sat at my feet.

All the ski stuff awaited me on the mountain. This was the ultimate expression in travelling light, and it all just made perfect sense.

Was my friend right about Thredbo? Oh yeah.

The range of runs has something for everyone. Photo: Getty

From virtually the tip of Mount Kosciuszko – and yes, I got the photo of me at the highest point in Australia – stretched long, wide runs with no one on them.

The range of runs was extraordinary, from hugely fun Green and Blue to the trickier Black. Happily avoiding any Gwyneth Paltrow/Terry Sanderson moments, I came off the mountain exhilarated.

The evening also turned out to be a revelation.

We stayed in a club lodge, a recommendation by my friend. I didn’t realise how much fun club lodges are. When my friend pitched it, frankly, communal living at the snow sounded sub-optimal to me. After a day on the mountain don’t you want privacy? Do you really want to talk to complete strangers? Well, as it turned out, yes you do.

But it turns out you don’t just want to talk to complete strangers when your legs are hurting, you want to cook with them as well.

While the 25 or so people staying at the lodge pour a glass of wine and sit around the fire, or sit at the long refectory table and chat to either their own crew or people they’ve just met, in the large kitchen you and the designated cooks of each group use one of the six stoves to make dinner.

You’ve grabbed your ingredients from your section of the communal fridge and no running to get them like in MasterChef. The wine’s flowing, the onions are sizzling and soon seven meals are on the way. I don’t want to oversell it, but people you just met slicing garlic can be very interesting.

People may think club lodges are just for members and be put off by that, but non-members are welcome in many lodges at Thredbo, and the prices are significantly less than hotel accommodation.

Among those staying with us were several families, and with the room to move about and even hang out on the balcony where the barbie sits, that makes a lot of sense.

Thredbo has a family-friendly, village feel to it. Photo: Thredbo Resort

Distance had been the barrier for me getting there. Thredbo is, of course, a favourite for New South Wales skiers, what Mount Buller is to Melburnians: Your “home break”, to borrow a surfing term.

Even though it’s a roughly six-hour drive from both Melbourne and Sydney, Melburnians are outnumbered massively at Thredbo, so there’s almost a pleasure in being a kind of out-of-towner.

But I want that to change – for me. As much as I will continue to enjoy my regular trips to Mount Buller, Thredbo is now on my radar, especially now I know how easy it is to get there. Flying probably cost a bit more than driving, but was worth it.

Many Melburnians – including me – are frequent visitors to Sydney and enjoy a strong connection with that amazing city. I have always considered it just up the road, and I always know that I’ll be back there soon, and that I’ll head to my favourite haunts and I’ll reconnect with the excitement Sydney always offers. I’ll always be a visitor, but never a stranger.

Now I feel the same about Thredbo. It may be Sydney’s home break, but it beckons everyone. It’s just too good not to share.

Thredbo’s Winter of Events kicks off with its opening weekend on June 10-11. Visit the website here.

  • Peter Wilmoth was a guest of Thredbo
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