Melbourne gets mighty chilly in winter, but it rarely snows in the city itself.
However, there are a number of snowfields that are located within reasonably close proximity to the Victorian capital. Get your family and friends together and plan a day of skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snowman-building at one of these fabulous mountain retreats.
Situated two hour’s drive north-east of Melbourne, and with an elevation of round 1,400 metres, Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is the city’s closest true snowfield. Renowned for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities in winter, Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is also perfect for year-round family getaways, school excursions, and corporate retreats.
There are plenty of great reasons to plan a visit to Lake Mountain. The resort is recognised as one of the best cross-country skiing zones in Australia and offers access to 35 kilometres of cross-country runs, ranging from easy to difficult.
In spring, summer and autumn, the mountain’s many trails offer spectacular views and complete immersion in the pristine natural environment. Get your pulse racing on a mountain bike ride or cross country run, or traverse the landscape on foot at a more leisurely pace.
One of the most popular activities on offer at the resort is the 240-metre dual flying fox, which operates throughout the year. You’ll need to book in advance for this activity.
En route to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort, you’ll pass through wonderful local towns like Healesville (home to the renowned Healesville Sanctuary) and Marysville, and have the option to stop at natural attractions like Steavenson Falls. You may also want to take the opportunity to explore the Yarra Valley wine region.
At three hours’ drive from the CBD, Mount Buller is also doable as a day trip from Melbourne. The resort welcomes up to 7,000 rugged-up snow bunnies daily, so our top tip is to hit the road early and avoid as much of the traffic as possible. Spend your day skiiing and snowboarding, drinking in the stunning views, and soaking up the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the village. A shuttle bus operates from the car park to the village, which is home to shops, cafes and restaurants.
If you need to hire gear, stop off in the heritage town of Mansfield. You’ll find rental shops that offer equipment, clothing and snow chains, and there are plenty of cafes for that all-important morning coffee.
For those who just want to toss a snowball or two and enjoy a casual play in the white stuff, a visit to Mount Donna Buang is a relaxed and cost-effective option. Located just north of the town of Warburton in the Yarra Ranges, the drive from Melbourne will take you around two hours depending on the conditions. Mount Donna Buang is 1,245 metres above sea level, which means the snow line and amount of snow varies. There’s no entry fee and generally no formal requirements to use chains. However, drivers should exercise caution on the road as black ice is not uncommon.
At the peak you’ll find a 21-metre-high lookout tower, which offers magnificent views of the Alps, the Dandenong Ranges, the Cathedral Ranges, Yarra Valley, and on a good day, even Melbourne. Enjoy the toboggan runs and snow play area in winter, or go bushwalking at other times of the year. There are picnic tables, BBQs and toilet facilities.
Downhill skiing enthusiasts should plan a day out from Melbourne to Mount Baw Baw. This is the closest downhill ski run snowfield to the city, and the drive will take you just under three hours each way On arrival you’ll have access to more than 35 hectares of ski runs — serviced by seven t-bar and poma lifts. Beginners and intermediate skiers are well catered for here, as are snow boarders of all levels of experience. The hilly terrain is also a mecca for hikers and mountain bikers at other times of the year.
Fancy yourself pretty adept at pitching a snowball? Mount Baw Baw is one of the few Australian ski resorts to offer yukigassen — Japanese snow-fighting — which is basically a pro-level snowball fight!
At six hours’ drive from Melbourne, a visit to famous Falls Creek necessitates a stay of at least a couple of days — and what a stunning place to stay in! Located in the sweeping Victorian Alps, roughly halfway between Melbourne and Canberra, the resort offers a plethora of accommodation options — everything from hostels and dorms, to self-contained apartments, and upmarket lodges. The European-inspired alpine architectural style of most buildings will have you imagining yourself in the Swiss or French Alps. Book well in advance of the ski season for the widest choice.
In winter, Falls Creek offers downhill and cross-country skiing, tobogganing and snowboarding for all levels. For the rest of the year it’s a walker’s dream destination. The terrain is criss-crossed by walking trails, that weave along ridges and past groves of hardy snow gums. You’ll enjoy absolutely breathtaking views, and learn the intriguing history of the high-country huts — where turn-of-the-20th-century cattlemen would take shelter during inclement mountain weather.
This post was published thanks to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list of the best places to see snow close to Melbourne? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image: Rob Blackburn