Every June, the Australian Alps – the highest chunk of Australia’s Great Dividing Range – welcome snow-loving refugees from the summer up north. With four major resorts surrounding its bare flanks, Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales is both the sunburned country’s tallest peak and its powder capital.
In 1840, Polish explorer Pawel Edmund Strzelecki gifted the mountain with its fierce sounding name because it reminded him of Krakow’s Kosciuszko Mound, a memorial ground dedicated to Polish general and American Revolution veteran Tadeusz Kosciuszko. Like the general, the mountain is a rebel. In a country defined by heat, it has the courage to be chilly. Beginning on June 10, the first day of the ski season and the Queen’s birthday, Aussies make the trip here from cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Beginning on June 11, Aussies whine about the 26 degree cold – hardly severe by non-Australian standards.
Many skiers warm up before morning sessions at Thredbo Resorts with a “flat white,” or latte, from Australia’s highest café, The Eagle’s Nest, which perches at the top of the Kosciuszko Express chair lift. They then spend hours carving their way across the open bowls and drifting down scenic runs like 3.7-kilometer-long Supertrail. Hours later, the day ends with a “coldie” at Schuss Bar, where the snowshoers who head to the summit on a trip organized by K7 Adventures brag about making a pit stop at Australia’s highest toilet.
Fifteen miles down Alpine Way, a thread of road that winds through picturesque mountain valleys, savvy skiers hang out at Alpine Habitats, an eco-lodge with 18 luxury cabins scattered across 40 acres of woodlands. The lodge offers free underground transport to Perisher Resort, the largest local hill with 47 lifts, and the neighboring town of Blue Cow Mountain.
For those looking to warm up, transport is also available to the Wild Brumby Schnapps Distillery, which hosts free tastings of flavors like Devil’s Tongue and spikes its hot chocolate with enough peppermint to banish the August cold.
More Information: The Snowy Mountains are equidistant between Melbourne and Sydney. Upon arrival to Australia, most people travel to the resorts by car. Murrays Snow Express offers lift packages that include bus transport from either Sydney or the capital city Canberra