By Jeremy Khalil on May 16, 2015
Escape the summer heat this school holidays by heading down to the Southern Hemisphere where it’s time to trade in flips flops for sweater weather! While Melbourne city itself does not have snow, winter in Melbourne is still a nice and chilly experience with temperatures ranging from frosty single digit nights to comfortable days in the low 10s. The cold doesn’t stop Melbourne from being one of the best cities in the world, with plenty of unique activities to entertain visitors no matter the season.
The state of Victoria is littered with snow fields that reach their peak form during the months of July to August, so winter is naturally the best time to hit the slopes of Victoria. This year, snow season officially starts on 6 June and runs through September. One of Victoria’s most famous retreats is Mount Buller, located an easy three hour drive from Melbourne. Mount Buller offers over 300 hectares of skiable terrain and a good mix of trails for skiers and snowboarders of any level, promising exhilarating days on the slopes and comfortable nights by the fire in world class ski lodges. To celebrate the beginning of the snow season, up to two kids can stay free of charge at selected accommodation at Mt Buller Village in June when accompanied by two sharing adults!
The Mt Buller Village is located right in the heart of Victoria’s snow fields, featuring 7,000 on-mountain beds ranging from basic to luxurious accommodation and more than 30 retail outlets, cafes and restaurants. As the most accessible major snow resort in Australia, coach tour operators offer easy transfers to the mountain on a daily basis and many tour companies run sightseeing day and overnight tours, making it easier than ever for families and friends to make a quick weekend trip down to the slopes. The seasonal dog sled tours are always a hit among visitors and are pre-book only due to the high demand. Take an once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore the winter wonderland of Mt Buller on an exhilarating ride led by adorable Siberian Huskies, and treasure the memory by taking photos with the dogs.
Falls Creek is another popular ski spot and is Victoria’s largest ski resort, located a little over four hours from Melbourne. It boasts the most snowfall among all Victorian resorts and paths are often covered with snow so visitors can ski straight from their accommodation to the slow slopes. Falls Creek has more than 92 runs serviced by 14 lifts and over 450 hectares of ski-able area, including the 2.2km Wombats Ramble, Australia’s longest beginner run. There’s plenty to do aside from skiing; you can try your hands at tobogganing, snow biking, snowtubing, watch the free Pete the snow dragon shows, or simply build your own snowman. When night falls, curl up by the fireplace and enjoy the post card worthy view of Falls Creek blanketed in slow and dotted with lights. If you visit Falls Creek on Thursday nights, you’ll even be treated to magnificent fireworks set to a thumping soundtrack!
Around 4.5 hours from Melbourne in the stunning Alpine National Park, Mt Hotham is the highest snow resort in Australia and boasts a varied ski terrain with over 40 kilometres of cross-country and multi-use trails. Skiers and boarders of all abilities are well catered for with downhill runs for beginners to advanced with free Snow Kat tours that enable access to untracked powder on ‘side country’ trails. For the first time, two-hour ski and snowboard master-classes will be available this season with the resort’s best coaches, offering high-level technical instruction, park tricks and insider local knowledge for those who want to sharpen their skills. A more kid-friendly experience is offered at Hotham’s Burton Riglet Park with a specially-designed snowboarding terrain that includes small bumps, ramps, rollers and toys that teach children three years and above about the fundamentals of balance and stance.
When you’re done with snow thrills, take a drive or a day tour to see one of the largest and most majestic mammals to roam the sea with your own eyes. Whales are often sighted along the coasts of the Great Ocean Road as they migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warmer regions of Australia. You can catch a glimpse of Female Southern Right whales as they return to the nursery of Logans Beach in Warrnambool each year during winter to give birth to and nurse their calves. For a more complete experience, hop on a specialised whale watching tour led by certified marine naturalists who know the best way to get a close look at some of the whales and can point out the many other sea creatures you can spot along the way, including sea birds, bottlenose dolphins and Australian fur seals. Even if you miss out on the whales, the magnificent coastal scenery is well worth the trip down to the coasts.
Meanwhile, at the Melbourne SEA LIFE Aquarium, the resident penguin colony is welcoming the cold from their Penguin Playground exhibit modelled after the temperatures and landscapes of Antarctica. Born in February, the aquarium’s three King Penguin chicks are settling in nicely with their family and friends and are excited to see their first winter. Melbourne SEA LIFE Aquarium provides an indoor retreat for anyone looking to escape the cold but still wants an interactive and fun experience. One of the main draws is the Crocodile’s Lair, specially built to house a crocodile that outgrew his last home. Weighing in at 750kg, Pinjarra the 50-year old crocodile is one of the largest saltwater crocodiles held in captivity. The aquarium also houses the largest collection of seahorses in the world and is home to the aquarium’s pride, a breeding program for the weedy seadragon. The seahorses and seadragons bred in the internationally recognised breeding program are shipped to aquariums all over the world.
Every season is a great season in Melbourne with plenty of fun and exciting awaiting you. For a memorable getaway, head to Victoria in winter and experience the ever changing charms of Melbourne. Discover the diverse wonders of Melbourne today!