Ski holiday at Mt Baw Baw is about the little things
It may not have top billing when it comes to snow resorts, but Mt Baw Baw’s smaller footprint certainly has its advantages. Here’s why you should visit.
- July 2018
‘Where?’ That’s usually the first reaction when you tell someone you’re heading to Mt Baw Baw for a snow holiday. As one of the smaller ski resorts in Australia, it often gets overlooked in the round-ups or reviews.
Indeed, Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort is compact and quiet for those accustomed to larger snowfields, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm and convenience.
Close to home
For a start, at a short 2.5-hour drive from Melbourne, it’s the closest ski resort you can get to from a major city in Australia, which makes a winter weekend getaway - or even a day trip - an easy affair.
Secondly, you don’t have to wander too far for the ski runs and activities as the on-mountain accommodation puts you close to the action, which is great for families - especially those with small children.
This means you can pack quite a bit into a day without needing to rush around - an advantage I put to the test as our family of four were booked into a sled dog ride with the Howling Huskies for a mid-morning tour. We still had time for a leisurely morning and a few runs down the mountain before meeting up for the pooch-powered experience.
The Howling Huskies have various tours, from backcountry expeditions to climbing up the mountain for a sunset view, but it pays to book early as the sled dogs are a popular attraction.
On the mountain
Mt Baw Baw rates about 30 per cent of its runs as green, making it ideal for children and beginners. The longest of these, called West Wood/Summit, is a gentle glide down to the bottom and a good place to start for those who’ve mastered the basics.
In fact, it’s the longest run on the mountain of any grade. While it’s still a pretty short run by larger resort standards, you get to go up again in quick order, since the lift queues are generally only two or three people deep - unheard of in most places.
For those who want something a bit more challenging, head up the Hut Run Platter lift and make your way back down via Hut Run. There’s a couple of black diamond routes running off it. Or you can take the Champagne run instead, which was my personal favourite.
Something that may take a little getting used to if you’ve only ever taken chairlifts is that all the lifts on the mountain are T-bars or platter style.
One great tip is that when you’re heading back to the restaurants or ski hire shops at the end of the day (or for lunch), catch the Tank Hill Platter lift and ski down Home Run, which takes you directly there. It saves a bit of a hike in your ski boots.
Eating, drinking and hiring gear
Speaking of which, there are two main restaurants in the village - the pub-like Alpine Hotel and the more formal Village Central. Both have bars, but the latter is definitely more popular during lunchtime, while the Alpine Hotel is more buzzing at night, with its bistro food, handy selection of board games to borrow and pool tables to challenge your mates.
There’s also a small kiosk (“Skiosk”) at the bottom of the ski runs that sells hot dogs, pies and sausage rolls if you can’t be bothered trekking back into the village.
You can hire all the gear (including toboggans) from one of two ski shops in the village and pick up your lift passes from there as well.
Also nearby is the dedicated toboggan area with a magic carpet saving you from hiking it back up the hill.
There’s a range of apartments, lodges, cabins and shared “flashpacker” accommodation within the resort and all pretty close to the action. We stayed in one of the two-bedroom cabins that backed onto the forest, which made for a spectacular view to wake up to given it was snowing during our first night there. It has its own little fully-equipped kitchen and heated drying closet for your clothes.
Need to know
- You’ll need to carry snow chains in your car to enter the resort. You can hire some on the way if you don’t have your own.
- There’s also a resort entry fee based on the number of days you’re staying there.
- For the 2018 season, Mt Baw Baw introduced a “snow guarantee” after bringing on a new “snow factory” system.
Simon Tsang was a guest of Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort