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Tuesday October 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

We check the resort of Perisher after an incredible season of snow and extended skiing. So, what's skiing like Down Under?



Hearing the sloshing sound of spring snow as it softens before becoming too slushy isn't something I would expect in October.

It's more likely to be the sound of chattering teeth or skis high up on a glacier somewhere like Tignes in France or Hintertux in the Austrian Tirol as I try to get a few early season turns under my boots.

But I happen to be in Australia after it has experienced its best winter in living memory and had to see for myself what it's like.

I won't kid anyone.

I wouldn't head to the other side of the world just to get a few more days on skis.

But if you're on the country's East Coast - in Sydney or Melbourne - during June to October, it's worth a detour.

Well worth a detour.

Getting there is an adventure in itself.

Driving the 480km from Sydney to the Snowy Mountains, it's hard to think there will be any skiing at all.

Mile after mile of parched countryside doesn't bode well.

But after a steady four hour climb to above 1,000 metres, the white ribbons of the still far off slopes reveal themselves.

They're still another 100km away and it's a sweltering 27°C.

Yet Australia has had its best snow year in living memory with huge dumps midway through - including more than two metres in August - leaving Perisher to bask quite literally in an extended 2017 season.

Lewis PantherYours truly
















Pulling into the car park full of huge SUVs and a crazy painted surfer's wagon, it has got that end of spring feeling.

Smiggin Holes Alpine Village, sitting at an altitude of 1,680m, had already closed.

The lifts up to Mount Blue Cow and Guthega Peak were also closed though there is a healthy amount of ski tourers who were unpacking and heading off up to the empty slopes.

There was certainly enough snow to ski down to the base of Perisher.

After getting kitted out - an interesting part of the Perisher experience which I will return to later - it was up the Village 8 Express for a few warm-up runs.

Several laps around the already softening snow while keeping on the boarders and skiers flying off the jumps and rails and I was ready to head off further afield.

It wasn't crowded, but I wanted to get amongst the distinctive Eucalyptus gum trees that are dotted all over the slopes.

With just over 300m of vertical to play with, I felt like I had to spread out to get the best out of the place.

Traversing round to Mount Perisher, it's clear the Australians make sure they have enough to keep themselves amused.

While there's nothing particularly challenging, every yard of off-piste has been skied out and all the rocks jutting up through the snow have got the tell-tale signs that boarders and skiers have jumped off them.

















Edge of the resortShiftys
















From here, I headed to the edge of the resort and a blue run called Shiftys.

It hadn't been pisted but had a fairly flat surface without any big bumps.

As it began to soften around 11am, it had that wonderful creamy feel you get with the perfect spring snow.

So I stayed there for the best part of an hour getting fresh spring tracks each time.

A food area at Perisher Central caters for everyone eating everything from traditional Australian meat pies and an area for those who had brought the packed lunches to a bar and healthy kebab kiosk.

But I preferred to sit at the wooden, cash-only shack at the bottom of the Eyre T-bar where you could get gluwein and chips or a burger.

Eyre T-bar base shackEyre T-bar base shack
















Lunch breakLunch break
















Soaking up the sun squeezing onto the benches, it was clearly the place to be.

Even the local fire and rescue crew turned up for lunch.

Back on the hills, I could have charged around until 4.30pm, but decided to save the legs for day-two as it was getting a bit too heavy.

As with most of the people in Perisher, the end of the day meant returning down to the town of Jindabyne where most of the accommodation is outside the Kosciuszko National Park.

Once there, it was back into the shorts for a stroll around the town, looking for some extra sun cream and checking out the microbrewery and end of season bargains - ready for the northern hemisphere season.

Gear on saleGear on sale
















Back up the hill for day two and the weather started to close in - with more snow expected.

But I was really left licking my lips for what could be if the whole resort was open.

And then there is nearby Thredbo, which isn't anywhere near as big as Perisher but has steeper runs.

Going back to the equipment hire as I mentioned I would, one of the things that worried me about skiing in Perisher was that it would be a right pain schlepping boots and the rest of the clobber that soon adds up to airlines' stingy 23kg.

And the idea of hiring boots for the first time in three decades and the prospect of battered and blistered feet filled me with horror

As a compromise, I packed my Profeet footbeds to slip into Perisher hire centre's Dalbellos which took a bit of the sting out of renting.

You can also hire all the weatherproof clothing you'd need, which seems like a good idea if you don't have the capacity to carry as much luggage as Imelda Marcos.

Another point worth mentioning if you're thinking of heading there - especially if you're going to be skiing Whistler, Vail or any of the other Epic Pass resorts this coming season - is that you would get free days in Perisher next summer (or winter).

PerisherAussie life
















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