Difference between revisions of "Thredbo"
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3) Slopestyle course at the top of Anton's T-bar.
3) Slopestyle course at the top of Anton's T-bar.
Revision as of 19:11, 20 July 2009
Thredbo is widely considered to be the best resort in Australia. It has Australia's greatest vertical, at 621 metres, and all the facilities of a major resort. It boasts Australia's highest lift, but also the mainland's lowest base, at just 1365 metres, below the natural snowline.
Thredbo has a great village with many options for dining and partying.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Thredbo is located in the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains in South Eastern Australia. It is about 500 km from Sydney by road.
- Vertical - and lots of it. 600 plus vertical metres (more than any other Australian resort) mean that when Thredbo is good, there is no place in Australia that compares with it for length of run.
- Village - great village, well laid out, good commercial centre and lots of options on accommodation and restaurants. Consistently ranked as one of Australia's best tourist resorts, in both summer and winter. Free shuttle buses ferry people quickly and easily around the village.
- Snowmaking - largest in Australia, and has expanded to include both supertrails, Merrits, Friday Flat and other areas (they are still extending it). It allows most of the mountain to be used and maximises the benefit of the vertical drop, even in a bad season.
- Crowds - Thredbo tends to have less crowds than the nearby Perisher.
- Navigation - Thredbo is easy to get around, with most of the mountain being able to be reached off the two lower fast detachable chair lifts.
- Vertical - with the bottom station below the natural snowline the lower couple of hundred metres relies on man made snow. Because of the lower altitude and warmer temperature, the bottom area can be marginal as the day progresses, with heavy and wet snow.
- That lower section often concentrates everyone into a narrow line of man made snow, causing some congestions and grouping new skiers and boarders with more experienced skiers and boarders. New skiers may find this frightening. The dedicated beginners area at Friday flat does not have these issues, with beginners area segregated from those skiing the remainder of the mountain.
Phone: 02 6459 4294
Fax: 02 6459 6470
Thredbo Resort Centre
Drive:Thredbo is an approximate 500 km drive from Sydney. Follow the Hume and Federal Highways to Canberra, then the Monaro Highway to Cooma and Jindabyne. About 5 km past Jindabyne there is a left turn onto the Alpine Way. This turn is signposted Thredbo.
There are no real sensible alternative routes. Turning off at Goulburn and travelling via Tarago and Bungendore was a viable option when the road past Lake George and the ranges further south was not divided road. Now the road is divided this route is slower. Although it is a pleasant diversion on a sunny day. There are some excellent arty crafty shops in Bungendore.
There are two ways to avoid Canberra. One is through Queanbeyan and the other via Majura Rd past the airport and Fyshwick. There is endless controversy about which is faster, but the difference is not likely to be more than 5 minutes.
In good conditions and without traffic the drive should take 5.5 to 6 hours. On Friday nights traffic can be heavy (particularly out of Sydney) and the journey may take longer. Returning on Sunday night can also be a bit slower because of traffic. Relax. Slow down. Overtake when safe. You will get there in the end.
From Melbourne you can get to Tallangatta then take the Alpine Way across Dead Horse Gap to Thredbo. You will be required to carry chains on this route. An alternative that may be faster, and which does not have the problem of possible snow on Dead Horse Gap is to travel through Gippsland to Cann Valley, and then following the Cann Valley Way to Jindabyne.
Fly Rex airlines used to fly into Cooma every day. In 2008 this service is not operating. The nearest airport is now Canberra. There is a shuttle bus from the airport to Thredbo although it will not meet every flight. Personally I think that when you add the time getting to the airport, time spent checking in, the actual time of your flight, time spent waiting for your luggage and the shuttle, and the elapsed time of the shuttle the time advantage does not warrant the flight, but it is a relatively stress free way of travelling.
Bus Most of the major coach companies run services to Thredbo. Bus Services and contact details
Like most resorts in Australia it was initially heavily built on lodge style accommodation. In recent years however with the bed allocation running thin Thredbo has gone for luxury. High quality appartments abound now sleeping 4-8 and are concentrated in Crackenback Ridge and Woodridge Estates (although they are in a few other locations).
Because of this newer more expensive accommodation there are some older properties that now offer quite economic options within the village.
There is quite a range of accommodation within Thredbo Valley which leaves you with a 10 - 20 minute drive in each morning but also gives you the option of ducking up to Perisher via the skitube if you want. Of course there is always Jindabyne which offers a massive range of accommodation options.
If you are doing things on the ultra cheap, there are caravan parks and camping areas in Jindabyne, as well as at Sawpit Creek on the road to Perisher. They have civilised things like hot showers, but also have fees. There are recognised free camping areas at Island Bend on the way to Guthega and at Thredbo Diggings and Ngarigo on the Alpine Way between the park entrance and Thredbo. These have pit toilets and fireplaces, but little else in the way of facilities. Some hardcore cheapskates camp beyond Thredbo in the Ramshead Range. The Thredbo Sports Centre has showers and change facilities, although you have to pay to use them. Have a swim in their pool and a shower at the end of the day, before heading to the pub or your free accommodation.
For the first time in a long time, ticket prices are different between Thredbo and Perisher.
A standard adult day ticket at Thredbo is $99. A full list of prices can be found at the Thredbo Website
Tickets can be purchased either on the mountain or via some outlets in Jindabyne. On mountain, the main points of sale are at Friday Flat, adjacent to the Day Parking Lot, and outside the base building at the bottom of the Kosciosko Express.
Like most ski schools there are the good and the bad. If you cop a bad one make sure you go and let the office know. If they don't get feedback they will probably re-employ them.
Unfortunately Thredbo can attract the arrogant ski instructors as it has an "image". They also have some really good ones. Probably would be good to list some of the good ones here but I haven't had a lesson there for a while.
In addition to normal lessons Thredbo offers some more intensive training programs that run over a few days, including the High Intensity Program (HIP) and Womens High Intensity Program (WHIP).
More information on these courses and other ski school lessons can be found on the Thredbo Ski School pages.
Kids ski school
Thredboland as it is called is excellent for those 6 or under. The facilities and instructors are excellent with the main concern being that from their very first efforts they are out on the carnage that is Friday Flat, which is a bit full on for the tiny tots. In my opinion Falls Creek's system of having the tiny tots seggregated in their own area with their own magic carpets is superior.
Make sure you get them a helmet as on Friday Flat they are just as likely to be cleaned up by some 20+ year old person who has no idea what they are doing. Don't risk it, don't even think about risking it.
The main complaint I would have is that they don't run a half day morning session in Thredboland (once you are 7+ you can go in the workshops in the morning). Hence the only option for a half day is afternoon which seems crazy. So if you are planning on a half day on your last day and heading off early then don't plan Thredbo land or budget a full day cost and pull them out early. Again Falls Creek's system of a morning half day session is far more family friendly (although they have other issues!).
Thredbo Sports are located at both Friday Flat and within the Village Terminal and offer ski and board rentals, parkas and pants, snowshoes, and even Alpine Touring setups.
A standard ski, stocks and boots package will cost ~$60/day or $135 for 5 days, around $80/day for a demo package ($230 for 5 days), and ~$30/day for kids ($70 for 5 days).
For some reason, snowboard and boots packages are about 30% more expensive than the ski packages.
The Thredbo courtesy shuttle bus service operates around the Village and to Friday Flat during the winter season. The bus service operates daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm on the normal routes on a continuous basis. Additionally, a bus operates around the entire village after hours between 5:30pm to 9:00pm on Sunday through to Thursday evenings, and until 2am on Friday night and midnight on Saturday, unless otherwise notified. Additional services are provided for events such as night skiing and the Thursday children’s flare run.
There are 3 shuttle bus routes and you need to make sure you get on the correct route one around the village otherwise it wont stop even though it is driving past your lodge. More details and routes can be found on the Thredbo Website
The village is rarely snowbound, so it is fairly easy to walk around the village most of the time.
Technology and Networks
Localy based Carrier/ISP Airlan provides wireless WiFi prepaid internet hotspots in Thredbo, pre-paid cards can be purchased online or from North Pole Trading gift shop. Airlan will be extending its coverage in Thredbo to cover all resort properties. Airlan's network coverage extends to other ski regions in the NSW Snowy Mountains region, which enables users to roam. airlan.com.au
The day parking area is at Friday Flat near the base of the Gunbarrel Chair. After you turn off The Alpine Way at the Thredbo resort entry follow the road across the river and turn into the Day Parking lot via the turning lane on your left. If you reach the roundabout you've gone to far - turn around!
Overnight parking is not permitted in the day parking lots.
Some hotels and lodges have limited on site parking, otherwise 'Overnight' parking available in several signposted lots between Friday Flat and the base of the Kosciosko Express chair. Cars can be left indefinitely in Overnight parking, there is no time limit.
Although generally below snowline, the carpark and village roads can get very icy at night and in the morning. Drive with care.
- Thredbo Top To Bottom Race
Held early in the morning (before lifts open) in mid August it is pretty much what it says, a race from the top of the mountain to the bottom. It is sort of a GS style race with pretty much any type of ski or board allowed with normally around 150 entrants. Prizes include cash, ski and board setups from Rossignol, and free season passes for the following season.
- Fireworks and Flare Run
Happens every Saturday night on the Supertrail.
- Night Skiing
There is free nightskiing on the lower half of the Supertrail on Saturday nights and on Friday Flat on Thursday nights for the kiddies.
- Thredbo Sports & Aquatic Centre
- Open every day. It has a 50 metre pool, squash courts, a gymnasium, basketball court, a climbing wall and probably other stuff. It also has a waterslide and a huge inflatable adventure thing in the pool, designed so that no adult can get to the end (to the immense amusement of the smartypants 12 year old daughter, who can.) At least I tried. A few times. Quite a few times. It was humiliating.
There are lots of restaurants, ranging from pizzas in the pizza shop and cheap and cheerful in the Bistro to the finest of fine dining.
The Thredbo website has details of all the eataries in the Village on their dining pages
Bars & Entertainment
The Helen Keller. Deaf, dumb and blind. Says it all.
The Schuss, for sophisticates who have not yet gone downstairs.
Piano Bar, for people who would never go to the Scheiss or Helen Keller.
Friday Flat is one of the better beginner areas in Australia with both snow carpets and a slow quad chair coupled with good snow making and a gentle consistent gradient it is a great beginners area. The biggest problem is there is no-where to really go when you graduate from Friday Flat, Merritts is imposing to a beginner to say the least, Thredbo would really benefit with something like Pleasant Valley at Blue Cow or Drovers Dream at Falls Creek.
In terms of steepness, the Basin would be the next step up from Friday Flat, but that involves riding one or both of the Basin and Karels t-bars. Being up higher (above Eagles Nest) the Basin is also more susceptible to bad weather than Merritts which is tree-lined for its major trails. Provided there is good weather and you are comfortable riding a t-bar then the Basin is a better transition from Friday Flat than Merritts.
The Supertrail, from the top of Snowgums or the Kosi Express and High Noon are the two best early morning hoots in Australia.
Like most resorts in Australia there is LOTS of groomed runs. Other good options include Merrits early (before 9:30 or 10:00 when ski school and the crowds arrive) has some great fast groomers and Antons.
So many options here. The Bluff, on the skier's right of the Kosi Express, is a great area, and hosts the Rip Curl Australian Freeride Pro. It gets tracked out extremely quickly though, you'll want to be right at the start of the lift queue to get freshies.
The Glades, directly under the Gunbarrel express, will offer powder briefly before being tracked out but has some gladed tree skiing if you head in from Merrits side. Above the top of the Gunbarrel express, the Tunnel/Michael's Mistake area offers interesting terrain and is accessed from Anton's T-bar. It is also short, but you can link it up with the Glades for a longer run. Another tree skiing option is the Bushranger under the top section of Snowgums chairlift, down onto the cat track. All these areas require above average snow cover to be truly good.
Powderbowl, long the secret of the locals was opened up when the new Cruiser chair lifted straight over the top of it!
High off Karels gives you options of heading out to the Golf course bowl area or dropping back into Funnelweb.
Out of Bounds
Fair range of options, Stanleys is probably the most visible but not for anyone but the expert. You can naturally tour in towards the main range and also head out to the Ramshead area. Signature hill lies just out of bounds in towards the main range.
Thredbo has limited cross country, apart from the ski from the top of the Kosciuszko Chair out towards the top of Kosciuszko and beyond. This ski can be delightful, but it can also have atrocious wind and visibility, and be very icy.
You can also ski to Charlotte Pass (~10 km one way), and on to Perisher (~20km, one way). There are lots of areas for downhill play in the Ramshead area.
You are playing on the top of Australia. If the weather turns bad there is no shelter. People have died not far from the top of the chair, so make sure you are adequately equipped and know what you are doing.
Parks & Pipes
There are 3 main terrain parks to choose from.
1) Beginners parks at Merrits consist of some easy rolls and boxes
2) Main park at High Noon which is half way down on the right hand side and has half a dozen park options.
3) Slopestyle course at the top of Anton's T-bar.
With hard grooming the main supertrails don't mogul up nearly as much as they used to. You can still often get some on skiers right half way down the supertrail and Black Beauty and True Blue are often left with good mogul runs on them. These areas are the best option for those that like a good run of fairly even bumps as the traffic out this way is fairly light on most days.
The top of the Crackenback supertrial always moguls up off the access trail, due to the volume of traffic and the high punter quotient they are usually irregular and often quite ugly. You can get a good view of them just before you unload from the quad on both sides the right hand side of the chair is also known as the bluff and gets good powder stashes from windblown before diving into the moguls below it.
Another way into this area is off the bottom of the Basin T-bar and if open Cannonball. This area takes heaps of snow to open so you need a good year to cover the big rocks in this area.
Funnelweb is good for some big moguls in the lower half but unfortunately it is often a hike out due to poor snow at the bottom. Talk is that snowmaking may fix that shortly.
Apart from that the supertrails generally develop some soft bumps by mid way through the day just from the volume of traffic. The steeper sections of both High Noon and Crackenback will usually bump up at some stage but these will be mercilessly flattened overnight by the groomers.
There is lots of places to find powder at Thredbo after a decent fall but you have to be fast on many of them as they are tracked out quickly.
The first tracked out is probably the Powder Bowl which is right under the Cruiser chair on Merrits. Basically just follow the lift line back down and you can't miss it. If you ski to the bottom follow the boundary rope back out and it will bring you back via the T-bar for beginner borders, alternatively ski the top half and then cut back to the Chair and out following its lines.
Directly under Gunbarrel Chair and out via Dream Run. This area is called the Glades and because you can see it from the Chair and access it from the top of the chair easily it too doesn't last long. By heading back to Merrits and down from that side you can get another run or two before it is tracked out.
Immediately above Gunbarrel Chair offers some good powder via Micheals Mistake but to access this you have to go up Anton's T-bar and across to it. It lasts a bit longer than some of the other areas.
The Bluff off the top of the Crackenback chair also offers freshies and they pile up there as windblown as well. Also tracked out quickly.
Apart from going searching (Golf Course Bowl etc) the other powder options include from the top of Antons back towards Merrits and then down into Merrits, this tends to last a bit longer as it is quite a traverse to get to and then a long run out and around to Antons to do again. Gets great windblown there and can be refreshed all day.
High off Karels and down into Funnelweb is another one that lasts longer as you have to know where you are going but often yields great freshies for at least a few hours after lifts open!
All of the lower runs at Thredbo are tree lined and they are planting more along the main supertrail to improve this in the future. The top T-bars are horrible in high winds and should be avoided. Snowgums comes into its own in bad weather as it stays below the tree line all the way up and ends prior to the top ridge meaning the supertrail is open in all but the worst conditions.
Just about the entire lower half of the mountain is quite good in poor weather as you are almost always between the trees.
Thredbo doesn't really do snowplay very well. Friday Flat is too crowded so you can't play there and there isn't regularly much snow around the village. There are no facilities for snowplay. If this is what you are after then Selwyn Snowfields is probably your best bet or the road into Perisher. If staying in Thredbo, Dead Horse Gap is a 5 minute drive up the road and usually has adequate snow for snowplay.
Due to the large vertical for Australia Thredbo does get some unusal weather. It is not uncommon for rain/sleet in the village and dumping up high - avoid the supertrails then and stick to Merrits, Antons, Sponars, Basin, Karels. Also due to the Valley you often get overnight freezes in the valley but not up the top (temperature inversions) meaning that they can pump out huge amounts of snow on the lower runs and nothing up the top.
The village of Thredbo is located at 1365 metres, on the Thredbo (formerly Crackenback) River. The skiing takes place on the southern slopes of the Ramshead range. The highest lift in Australia is Karel's at 2037m, just a few kilometres from Mt. Kosciuszko.
After years of searching for a suitable site, Tony Sponar along with four others formed a syndicate named "The Kosciusko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel" with the aim of establishing a ski resort in the Thredbo Valley. Two years later, and now with road access, the NSW government offers an option to lease the site and the first two buildings, The Lodge Hotel and Crackenback Ski Club, are built. Trails are cleared and a rope tow is installed on the mountain allowing the NSW Alpine Championships to be held for the first time on the Crackenback slopes.
In 1958, Kosciusko Thredbo Limited is floated as a public company and the first chairlift, Crackenback, is officially opened on July 20. In the same year, 15 buildings are completed, including 2 commercial lodges - Candlelight and Bursill's - as well as the Crackenback Post Office. Ski Instructors are recruited from ZÃ¼rs in Austria and the Thredbo Ski Patrol commences its operations under Tommy Tomasi and Danny Coleman. The following year the first fire brigade is established and by 1960 some sixty lodges were complete.
During the 1960s the village and mountain continued to expand. In 1961, Lend Lease acquired the lease from the original syndicate. The Thredbo Alpine Hotel opened in 1963 and the old Lodge Hotel became the Staff Lodge. In 1969 the Golf Course and Tennis Courts were built after the Master Plan was amended to develop Thredbo as both a Summer and Winter alpine resort. On hill developments during the 1960s included; the Crackenback Chairlift being extended from Kareela to it's present top station and a t-bar being installed on middle slopes (1962); the installation of the Ramshead Chairlift and Basin T-bar (1963); the Merritts Spur area being opened including a ski school t-bar, the Merritts Double Chair and duplex t-bars (1968).
In the 1970s, the village continued to expand and amenities were upgraded. The Antons T-Bar was opened in 1977 named after Charlie Anton, an pioneer in the early days of Thredbo. The Karels and Sponars T-bars were opened in 1979 and the following year the Snowgums Chairlift was opened as the fastest chairlift in Australia at that time.
Amalgamated Holdings Limited purchased the lease from Lend Lease in 1987 and remain the current holders of the lease. This change of ownership provided an injection of captial that led to the developement of the Friday Flat area in 1988 which included the Gunbarrel Quad, Easy Does It Quad, Ski Hire and the bistro. Snow making facilities also began to be installed.
In 1990, the Crackenback Double Chair was replaced by the high speed detachable quad and renamed to the Kosciusko Express in 2001. The Cruiser Quad was installed in 1994 as a replacement for the duplex at Merritts Spur and in 1996 the AIS Alpine Training Centre opened in the village.
The year of 1997 was a series of highs and lows for Thredbo. The year represented the 40th Anniversary of Thredbo and the centenary of the first ascent of Mt. Kosciusko. On July 30, the Alpine Way collapsed under pressure from rain and melting snow. Both Carinya Lodge and Bimbadeen Staff Lodge were flattened by the collapse which claimed the lives of 18 people. There was one surviver, Stuart Diver, who was pulled out three days after the collapse.
In January and February of 2003, local bush fires decimated 75% of Kosciusko National Park and Thredbo village was evacuated for three weeks, but the flames never reached the village.
A three year automated snowmaking upgrade from 2005/2006 to 2007/2008 with about $ 8 million investment. New guns added in Lovers leap bypass, skiers left High noon, True Blue and World Cup Ski runs.
Details of every ski lift to have operated at Thredbo is in the Aust ski lift directory.
Good thredbo snowreports updated regularaly http://www.ciau.com.au/snow/rrr.asp