Difference between revisions of "Falls Creek"
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Revision as of 12:22, 5 August 2014
Falls Creek Alpine Resort is 356km from Melbourne in North East Victoria on the edge of the Bogong High Plains in the East Kiewa River catchment. The resort area covers approximately 1500 ha. It is surrounded by undulating mountains and overlooks the Rocky Valley Lake. The lake is used for water sports during the summer months.
Falls Creek Village is at an elevation of 1500m. To the North East of the village is the Frying Pan Spur (rising to elevation 1750m) and to the South, running East to West is the Ruined Castle Ridge (elevation 1760m). (Kinhill et al, 1989). The southern side of the resort is known as Sun Valley and overlooks Rocky Valley Lake (elevation 1600m). The snowline is usually around 1400-1500 metres.
Falls Creek Alpine Resort has a ski area covering 450ha (the largest in Victoria), with 145ha groomed for downhill skiing and snowboarding. 14 lifts service 90 runs which comprise 17% for beginners, 60% for intermediate and 23% for advanced skiers.
There are 15.1km of groomed cross country ski trails within the resort connecting with a further 17.7km of trails outside the resort area in the Alpine National Park, making a total of 32.8km of groomed trails.
Village roads are closed in the Snow Season and transport is via oversnow vehicles.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
About 4 hours from Melbourne and 8 hours from Sydney.
- The most reliable snow in Victoria
- Largest resort in Victoria
- Wide range of runs
- Fantastic beginners area
- Excellent snowmaking system
- Rarely crowded
- Unique European style ski-in/ski-out village
- Less vertical than some other major resorts
- Limited reliable advanced terrain
- The longer runs (including many of the advanced runs) face north and have less reliable snow
- Expensive Oversnow service. Alternative is an uphill hike with all your gear
Falls Creek Ski Lifts
Phone: 03 5758 3280 (or Phone: 03 5758 1000)
Fax: 03 5758 3416
Postal: PO Box 55 Falls Creek, Vic, 3699
Falls Creek Resort Management
Phone: 03 5758 1200
Fax: 03 5758 3415
Postal: PO Box 50 Falls Creek, Vic, 3699
Phone: 03 5758 3285
Medical Centre: 03 5758 3238
Police – Falls Creek: 03 5758 3424
Ski Patrol: 03 5758 3502
SES at Windy Corner: 03 5758 3432
Search & Rescue: 03 5758 3213
Fire Service: 000
There are a number of ways of Driving from Melbourne.
Many people drive from South Australia. Trip planning route here
Plane, Train, Bus
Bus - Falls Creek Coach Service http://www.fallscreekcoachservice.com.au/ offer connections to Falls Creek from Albury, Melbourne and Mt Beauty. They also pickup and drop off at Tullamarine and Albury Airports and Albury train station.
V/Line run a bus service from Mt Beauty connecting with Wangaratta railway station.
There are approximately 4,745 beds available on the mountain 2,500 beds available in Mt Beauty (30 km away) 89 Accommodation sites comprising 35 flats/apartments, 26 lodges, 27 ski clubs and 1 motel. Of this accommodation 22 are commercial lodges and 8 are commercial flats.
You can obtain information on accommodation both on or off the mountain in the accommodation listings on
There are a number of different lift ticketing options available ranging from all inclusive lift, lesson and rental passes through to specialised beginner packages and children’s programs. All tickets can be purchased from five handy locations across the resort, ensuring maximum convenience regardless of where you are staying.
On-mountain Sales office locations
Falls Express Ticket Office – Adjacent to the day car park at the base of the Falls Express Quad Chairlift.
Village Bowl Ticket Office – In the Village Bowl at the top of Gully Chairlift.
Falls Creek Sports – Falls Creek Sports has two locations; in the Snowlands complex at the base of Falls Express Chairlift, and in the Village Bowl. Gebi’s Ski Hire, located on the main road at the entry to the resort, offers ticketing facilities.
Falls Creek has a variety of beginner terrain, including Australia’s longest beginner run, Wombats Ramble, ensuring you have plenty of space to practice your new skills.
The Snowsports School has a range of professional instructors who will have you riding in no time. To help you on your way there are a number of beginner packages to choose from.
For the first time skier or boarder, the Falls Beginners Ticket is the perfect choice. Providing limited lift access including Falls Express Chairlift, Mousetrap and boardwalk, it also includes a 2 hour introductory lesson.
Falls Beginner - 1 day ticket Adult $56 Child $42.00
- Falls Beginner & Rental - 1 Day ticket: Adult $84 Child $70
Child – 6-14 years inclusive
- Rental is provided from Falls Creek Sports
Learn to Ski/Board
If you’re planning on staying the week or just a few days this is the perfect product to get you well under way. Days one and two provide limited lift access including, Falls Express, Drovers Dream, Gully & Eagle Chairlifts as well as Mousetrap, Boardwalk and Monkey Bar surface lifts combined with a two hour class lesson up to a grade 5 standard. Days 3 and greater offer full mountain access and class lessons of any standard.
Learn to ski/board
1 Day ticket: A$ 79 C$ 58
2 Day ticket: A$148 C$111
3 Day ticket: A$250 C$175
5 Day ticket: A$440 C$305
Learn to Ski/Board & rental
1 Day ticket: A$108 C$ 87
2 Day ticket: A$205 C$170
3 Day ticket: A$339 C$250
5 Day ticket: A$549 C$391
- Rental is provided from Falls Creek Sports
Beginner Lesson Times – Daily at 10am & 1.30pm
I have never had a bad lesson at Falls. Not that I have had lots, but I have nothing but good things to say about the instructors I have had there. VERY good at explaining (as opposed to being a good skier and saying "follow me"). Good communication combined with excellent manners means every lesson I have had there has been fantastic.
Kids Ski School
Absolutely fantastic. Best I have seen in Australia. They have a segregated area for the tiny tots to learn that has its own magic carpets and is roped off so you don't get some out of control punter whipping out your young charges.
With Pete the dragon and their setup inside, the kids have an absolute ball and are introduced to skiing in a really controlled way.
Being up the top of the hill doesn't seem to create any problems, getting up the chair is exciting and the lifties are enthusiastic to help and a ski school rep is ready to help at the top. The kids love it.
If I had to be picky then I would say that the food was reported as awful in general, but lets see if its any better this year. This is a common complaint about anything from Cloud 9 so it isn't only for ski school.
I pity single parents with one in ski school and one in creche, give up, Falls Creek don't want you. That is the only explanation I can give for the fact that creche finishes half an hour BEFORE ski school. Now ski school is at the top of the hill, creche is at the bottom. You can't do it. You physically can't pick up your kid at the top of the hill and get down to pick up at the bottom without paying so many late fees you may as well have hired a private nanny for the day!
Oh and creche pickup is the same time as oversnow leaves so you will miss that by an hour as well. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. At least the Resort Management Board (RMB) run a shuttle van up and down to the car park. You can get that anytime and go up Gully chair if you are in the bowl.
Most people hike. The village isn't that big and the oversnow taxi is erratic even when booked. Most places are ski-in/ski-out which is great for everything except getting out when you are drinking or for dinner etc. Then it is hiking through the snow - so wear practical shoes, ladies no high heels!
Day parking is in a long carpark that can access one of two chairs (Falls Express and Gully) either of which will get you up on the slopes fairly easily. If you are going to ski school, or have beginners with you, it will be much easier to park at the higher, Slalom St, end of the car park and catch the Falls Creek Express chair.
Overnight parking is a bit different. You pull up to oversnow, unload and then go and wait by the side of the road with your car until a RMB person arrives in their 4WD and you follow them to overnight parking. From there they give you a lift back to oversnow. If you stay at Woodsmoke or at the Falls Creek Country Club you can actually drive to their front doors, thus eliminating the need for Oversnow. You can usually get an extra day skiing in if you stay at one of these places as there is no mucking about with Oversnow.
Oversnow then make you wait around for hours in the cold damp environment and charge you your first born to drive you 5 minutes to your lodge. If you can hike do so, it will save you a lot of time and money. If you can't do that, desperately try to get there out of peak arrival time (after lunch Friday or Sunday) or you will regret it. Otherwise stay at Woodsmoke or the Falls Creek Country Club.
- downhill and cross country skiing
- tobogganing and snow play
- calendar of both racing and non-racing events for the Winter
- back country tours
- snow grooming tours
- night skiing
- snowmobile tours
- helicopter flights
Falls Creek - Hotham Heli Link Service Unique in Australia, the resorts are linked by a 6 minute helicopter ride which has operated for 12 seasons. As both resorts are owned by the same company, lift tickets are interchangeable, so for the cost of a return helicopter ride over the Alps (with views to NSW on a good day) skiers are able to have 4-5 hours riding on a completely different terrain. Ski or ride two resorts on the one pass.
- water sports on Rocky Valley
- mountain biking
- high altitude training
- specific weekends for food, wine,, wildflowers and music
The Summit Ridge Restaurant serves up award winning 'Modern Australian' cuisine in an intimate setting. Along with a large wine selection and intimate open-fire setting, it provides for a highly memorable experience. Summit Ridge Restaurant is located at the top of Schuss St, a short walk from the village bowl. Bookings definately required. The Falls Creek Country Club has a very broad and well priced menu with the best quality and range of steaks on the mountain. Only restaurant on the mountain with Certified Australian Angus steaks. The Cock n Bull Olde English pub has an extensive english style menu with large portion sizes and a family friendly atmosphere. It also has a small quiet bar attached.
Bars & Entertainment
Winterhaven has cosy bar attached to a small intimate restaurant. Astra also has a small vodka bar with couches and a fireplace perfect for cold wet days.
Degree of Difficulty
Falls Creek is not known for its steeps. The vast majority of the resort is Blue groomed runs and it is an excellent resort for First time families looking to learn to ski.
The Maze area has some steep(ish) narrow runs that require skill to handle well, and the bumps off Summit can get challenging, but basically you can point the tips downhill and let 'em rip with absolute confidence.
Falls Creek has one of the best beginners areas in the country. The only downside is that it is at the top of the hill and somewhat exposed. The terrain however is perfect with a fantastic choice of runs from the first timers boardwalk to the beginners Drovers Dream area advancing to Towers. This selection of runs provides the perfect stepping stones to move from first timers to intermediate in gentle steps. It must be the envy of every other resort in Australia at this level.
Basically all the major runs in Sun Valley (over the hill from the village) are groomed most nights. The home trails and a selection off the Summit are also groomed daily. You can pay for a grooming tour and they will show you how it's done.
Off Piste is a treat at Falls, even more so because so few find it (even though it is in your face). This may be because it is often termed a "beginners mountain" so doesn't attract the number of advanced skiers to track it out too quickly.
Basically back down under Eagle chair offers a range of off piste options, as does very wide off Ruined Castle Chair. When open the Maze area has lots of off piste options.
A less known one but easy to find is the back of south face, basically turn left off Ruined Castle chair and duck out through the snow fence and ski the back side of the hill, unless on freshies you may have to wait until afternoon for it to soften. Turn left at the blue markers and you can ski out otherwise expect to hike out if you ski to the bottom.
Out of Bounds
The ultimate backcountry at Falls is the South Face of Mt. MacKay. Offering a consistent pitch of 40 degrees, and 350 metres of straight vertical, this is one of the best, most accessible backcountry runs in Australia. Do not attempt this when conditions are icy or visibility is poor. There is a fairly long walk back up.
For a tamer experience, head to Dam Site and Rocky Knolls. These runs face east, and are close to, sometimes within site of the resort, so there is less isolation. They offer around 150 metres of vertical only, but the powder holds quite well.
Roper's Lookout is a good, if short, run just outside the resort. It can be done late in the afternoon, as the end of the run is the end of the carpark, from which a shuttle can easily pick you up. To access it, drop off the upper bit of wombats ramble and ski/snowboard down to the Dam Wall, watching for cross country skiers. Hike across the Dam Wall, then turn left along the Rocky Valley Aqueduct. At the end, about 1km later, turn up the hill, and climb up to a Basalt Know known as Roper's Lookout. To the right of here is the run, which finishes at the Lower Slalom Carpark. Ring resort management at the lookout and ask for a lift back to the village.
Of course, the Bogong High plains offer infinite backcountry skiing, but it requires multiple days.
Falls Creek is the best cross-country resort in Australia, with more than 70 kilometres of trails groomed for nordic skiing, and a vast backcountry with huts and shelters for telemarking and alpine touring. It is the home of the National Cross-Country Ski Team, and the Kangaroo Hoppet ski marathon, part of the annual Worldloppet series of ski races.
Beginners can try the easy trails around the Nordic Bowl, such as the Pipeline Track, Horseyard Loop, Nordic Bowl Track and the Bogong High Plains Road.
Intermediates will enjoy the Sun Valley Loop, the High Plains road all the way out to Wallace's Hut, and the Pretty Valley loop.
Advanced skiers should give Heathy Spur a go, with its long hills, steep descents and spectacular views.
In bad weather, any of the trails around the Nordic Bowl provide sheltered skiing, such as Aitken's, the McKay road, Little Canada and the Pipeline Track.
In good conditions, experienced skaters can skate out to far-off peaks such as the Fainters, Niggerheads and Spion Kopje.
Parks & Pipes
Ruined Castle is home to probably the most dedicated terrain park in the country with a huge range of features to choose from. They also try and make a super pipe each year up off the Summit but it needs a lot of snow and is invariably quite late starting up.
The Summit. A lift dedicated to bump skiing. Steven Lee grew up on these bumps and they are a treat if that is what you are looking for.
Often there will be some fast groomers laid down on either side of the chair but the chair line itself is usually left to develop on its own.
The runs down off Eagle can bump up nicely at times but apart from that and a few areas of the Maze the rest of the mountain is swept clean each night.
Chainsaw, Rollercoaster, Jigsaw and Black and Blue, all in the Maze, are usually left ungroomed, and can form large, steep bumps.
Powder is to be had in a range of places if you know where to look. On a powder day, be waiting at the top of Scotts Chair for the rope to be pulled back by ski patrol at 8:30 and head straight for Ruined Castle. You have less than an hour until it is fully tracked out but in that time it is great fun.
After that you have to search a bit more in Sun Valley, there are often short runs off Scottys towards the Tunnel which offer a few turns of usually nice fresh pow.
If there is a decent base and it is a good fall, then back near the Eagle Chair or down through the Maze are the best options. There is quite a range here and it can take a few hours to track out. Wider off Eagle can last even longer if you are lucky.
A secret is Quartz Ridge, which is often the best option early in the season, as the snow settles their in much larger quantities than the rest of the resort. If Lakeside hasn't opened yet but Towers has, then this is easily the place to be.
In poor weather, ski through the trees between Last Hoot and Wombats Ramble and then drop off near the top of Milky Way.
Because much of Sun Valley is treeless there is often not much protection from the elements when they really blow in. You can try to stick to the Village side but that really only offers beginners stuff unless you are fairly advanced. If it gets really ugly then Gully chair is always protected but your options are limited. Sometimes Falls Express will open in windy weather, and in the trees on Last Hoot and Milky Way will keep you happy.
With a tube park with its own magic carpet style lift, a toboggan run around at windy corner and a village full of snow (usually!) then there are endless snowplay options. When the conditions are marginal then there isn't much snow play to be found at all as the village side loses its snow first.
Please Edit, Jobs, Staff Accommodation?
Geology The bedrock of the Falls Creek Resort Area is part of the "Omeo Metamorphics"; (Metamorphism refers to a change in the structure of rocks under pressure, heat, or chemical action). There are also patches of granite and basalt within the Resort which have resisted erosion. The most significant geological feature is Ruined Castle which is granite outcrop, uncommon within this locality.
Soil types within the resort are generally alpine humus soils. Although these soils are generally shallow, they are less susceptible to erosion here because of their metamorphic origin only moderate terrain and lower susceptibility of the resort to weather extremes. Considerable areas of bog or peat soils are also present and are highly sensitive to disturbance. These are generally located along the base of the slopes in the Sun Valley area adjacent to Rocky Valley Dam and below Ruined Castle. They are also found in wet patches within the tableland ridge areas particularly along Frying Pan Spur around the former Headwaters lift. (Kinhill Engineers, et al, 1989).
Snowfall & Climate
The 'alpine climate zone' is designated as that land having a continuous snow cover, on average for at least one month of the year. For mainland South-East Australia this usually corresponds to elevations above 1,300-1,400m with a cover for up to 5 months at higher elevations. Average total annual precipitation, including snow and rainfall is 2,555mm at Falls Creek. This is measured over a period of 42 years. Snowfalls occur on average 62.7 days annually and occur in every month of the year.
The average extent, duration and depth of the snow cover varies throughout the year and in some cases differs between regions according to variations in accumulation and ablation (melting or wind erosion of snow). Snowfalls, which create and maintain a persistent snow cover usually begin about mid-June for all alpine elevations, and continue intermittently until early September. A deep cover does not usually begin until early July. At Falls Creek, the average maximum snow depth is 110cm at 1842m elevation determined over a 12 year period).
Snow depth is not expected to be the greatest on the upper mountains because of high wind exposure and increased drifting of snow off the ridge.
Rainfall is greatest over the alpine regions of Victoria during the winter months. Topography has a large influence on rainfall, with the greatest falls recorded at high elevations with a North Westerly orientation. Depending on the type of mountain range, the topography may block, deflect or deparate the oncoming airflow. Hence different resorts are subject to varying levels of rainfall for a number of reasons. Thunderstorms with intense rainfall are prevalent in summer. (Ruddell et al, 1990)
In summer, monthly maximum temperatures vary from 30 C at the lowest elevations to 15 C at the highest. Days are hot and dry at lower elevations and cooler and windier higher up the mountain (LCC 1977). The decrease in temperature within elevation (lapse rate) is close to 0.7C/100 metres. (Ruddell et al, 1990)
The orientation of slope and steepness of the ground surface will affect the incidence of solar radiation. Lower levels of radiation will lead to lower temperatures. In alpine regions, northward facing slopes receive more solar radiation than southerly aspects. Similarly, the tops of mountains are exposed to more sunlight, while valleys sheltered by mountains will receive less sunlight. These factors are closely related to variations in snow depth at different locations.
FLORA Vegetation in Victoria's Alps varies with altitude as a result of variations in temperature, a duration of snowfall, frost another influential factors such as soil type, landform and aspect. Each type of vegetation has evolved special characteristics in response to the prevailing conditions at various altitudes. Adaptations include seeds lying dormant over winter, a rapid growth period, seedlings develop root systems early, growth characteristics such as small growth to avoid the high winds or flexible stems so they don't break under the weight of the snow. Plants in the alpine zone have also developed drought tolerances similar to desert areas, in response to the lack of readily available water, which is locked up in snow and ice over the winter months. A diverse number of species are present in the Victorian Alps - approximately 1,050 native flowering plant and fern species have been recorded including 92 grasses (family Gramineae), 64 sedges (family Cyperaceae), 24 rushes (family Subcaceae), 79 orchids (family Orchidaceae), 34 wattles (genus Acacia), 38 eucalypts (genus Eucalyptus), 22 beard-heaths (genus Leucopogon) and 18 butercups (genus Ranunculus). There are also about 150 introduced plant species (LCC, 1977).
Falls Creek Resort
Prior to European settlement, Aborigines inhabited the high plains in spring and summer for many thousands of years. The first European to visit the Bogong High Plains was John Mitchell who climbed from the Kiewa Valley in 1843. In 1851 the plains were traversed from the Buckety Plain Spur by Brown and Wells. Settlement of the lowlands areas surrounding the Bogong High Plains inevitably led to the use of alpine land for stock grazing and grazing licenses were first issued in 1851 to Jack Wells and Jim Brown. Most of the Bogong High Plains was pioneered by these cattlemen. Limited numbers of cattle are still permitted to graze the high country.
Falls Creek was first called Horseshoe Creek by the early cattlemen. Due to the boggy conditions, horses often lost a shoe in this area. The creek was renamed by the Country Roads Board, while carrying out a road survey for the State Electricity Commission in 1938.
The first building to be erected in the Falls Creek areas was a weather recording hut for the SEC - This was around 1946-1947. Mr & Mrs St Elmo-Beveridge lived in this hut and around 1949 they built a rope tow on the site where the Summit Chair is now situated.
The Skyline Lodge was the first lodge to be built and this was in 1948. In 1949, Bogong Ski Club Lodge was built. Mr Tom Mitchell's lodge called Dawn was built that year. It was later called Magpie and has since been pulled down. Rocky Valley Flats now stand on the site.
Mr Bob Hymans built a small lodge in 1948/49 called Four Seasons and in 1950 he built a large two storey lodge now called Grand Couer. This lodge accommodated around 60 people. It was burnt down in 1954 and not rebuilt. Mr Hymans also built the first chairlift in Australia at Falls Creek in 1957.
By 1961 the St Elmo's rope tow and Hyman's Chair had become unreliable and Alpine Developments Pty Ltd was formed and two lifts, the Summit and Village T-Bars were installed. In 1984, Alpine Developments was sold to a new company Falls Creek Ski Lifts P/L.
By 1996, the Mount Hotham Skiing Company, through BCR Asset Management, purchased Falls Creek Lifts and continue to trade as Falls Creek Ski Lifts P/L.
A list of all 36 lifts to have operated at Falls Creek
View some old ski maps from Falls Creek
Falls Creek Resort Management
The Falls Creek Tourist Area Management Committee, under the direction of the State Electricity Commission, came into effect in 1959 and from them on building sites were leased and building and sewerage controls were applied.
In 1979 the Victorian State Government had established the Ski Industry of Victoria Working Party with a brief report on:
- Development of the Victorian Industry within the framework of the Land Conservation Council recommendations for the Alpine Area and he Melbourne Study Area;
- The system of management by appointed Committees;
- The role of Local Government;
- Types of franchises to be granted to developers; and
- Government support needed to promote the growth of the industry.
In a wide ranging report, published in November 1980, the working party recommended the creation of a single body (The Ski Resorts Council) to coordinate resort strategic planning, management, development and control, financing (Public Funds), and standards.
Over the next three years the Government modified the proposal on a bipartisan basis with the Opposition to create an Alpine Resorts Commission with land management responsibility (instead of a Council wtih a co-ordinating role).
The Alpine Resorts Act 1983 established the legal framework for the Alpine Resorts Commission to exist, established its objects and powers, and set out the broad structure and functions of the organisation.
Whilst the first Commissioners were appointed in 1983, it was not until the 17th of April, 1985 that the Commission assumed responsibility for land management for Falls Creek.
Committees of Management were retained in the takeover process, to advise the Commission on matters pertaining to their respective resorts and to the industry as a whole.
The Alpine Resorts Advisory Council was established in 1989, as allowed for by the Act, to advise the Minister on industry matters.
The Act has been amended several times to improve management functions, overcome shortcomings in the original drafting, and to alter resort boundaries. Various sets of Regulations have been put in place for similar reasons.
By restructuring, tightening financial control and by other changes to management and operational practices the Commission has become a financially self supporting agency. The ARC at the completion of its financial year (31 October) produces an Annual Report. This report is available to the public upon request.
From 30 April 1998, Victoria's alpine resorts have been under a new management structure. The new Alpine Resorts (Management) Act 1997 provides for the resorts to plan and develop in a competitive atmosphere. The ARC has now been replaced by individual boards of management for Falls Creek, Mt Buller and Mt Hotham and an Alpine Resorts Coordinating Council.