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The mountains above the town of Mount Beauty, Victoria, have been a magnet for skiers since the turn of the last century. However, it was not until 1960 that the first lifts were built and the ski station of Falls Creek was born. In the last forty years this purpose-built winter resort has grown in size until today it is the biggest in the territory of Victoria with almost 100 trails, amounting to 80kms of skiable piste. Falls Creek is unusual in Australia being a car-free, ski-in, ski-out resort - you can ski from the door of all of the resort's lodges and in a normal season all the accommodation is accessible on skis. It shares ownership and a liftpass with the resort of nearby Mount Hotham which enables skiers to enjoy an even greater variety of terrain - access between the two is by helicopter, which takes 6 minutes compared with the 2.5 hours by road!

One of Australia's major resorts and the first to install a high-speed detachable quad chair in the country. The resort now boasts seven quads, second only to Mt Hotham, as well as two magic carpet lifts for kids and beginners. There are long open slopes with some mogul fields and adventurous glade skiing. Cross Country skiers will need to purchase a valid Cross Country Ski Trail Pass from the resort. Hardcore skiers and boarders are now being treated to an extension to the terrain on offer with the opening of Mt McKay - well known for its steep and deep terrain, narrow chutes, large boulders and majestic views. A heated, 10 person lift will transport skiers to the top of the mountain within 10 minutes, where they will be met by an experienced guide who will accompany them to maximise their experience. Each session lasts for three hours and there are two sessions per day - one at 0900 and the other at 1300. The service will operate in most weather conditions, and bookings must be made the day before departure through the Falls Creek Snowboard School. Each three hour session costs AUS$59.

Mountain

In the Falls Creek area, the 80km of piste offer plenty of scope for all levels of skier with 27 easy, 43 intermediate and 30 difficult runs. Add to that the 40 runs at Mt Hotham and the 10 at Dinner Plain which are included in the price of a lift pass and the skier and snowboarder will have more than enough to occupy them for several days. With its south facing aspect. the snow here is fairly reliable and the mountain does have some good powder skiing. The main skiing areas in Falls Creek are Village Bowl, Sun Valley and the Maze. The sides of the Village bowl offer cornices, steep trails and bump runs for experts, some gentler descents for intermediates while the base of the bowl is perfect for beginners and children. Mogul skiers will be dying to try out the famed Exhibition run which has been the venue for national and international mogul competitions. The Maze is the starting off point for some of the best off-piste routes and it has to said that skiing through gum trees rather than pines has a wacky charm all its own.

Families

This resort is an excellent choice for families, not least because it is car-free - a boon for all parents. The skiing too has the variety which means that all family members of all standards will have the choices and challenges which suit them. A lot of thought and investment has gone into catering for the needs of youngsters. Children aged 3 -5 can join the Skiing 4 Kids programme which teaches little ones in the safety of their own ski garden. Two magic carpet rides enable them have fun going up as well as down, taking away the trauma of using draglifts; not only does this save their little legs but it also give kids the confidence which enables rapid progress. As well as receiving excellent ski tuition, 6 - 14 year olds who join the Junior Workshop are supervised in a number of activities such as Big Footing, snow sailing, race training and mountain exploring. And all levels of snowboarding are taught to 6 - 14 year-old in the Junior Shred Time programme.

Eating Out

Australia is of course a melting pot of cultures and the eateries of Falls Creek reflect that - most of the restaurants and lodges serve a the fusion of styles known as Pacific rim or the food of the major European and Asian cultures - Italian, Greek, Turkish, Chinese and so on although there are some serving Austrian and Swiss specialities to conjure up that alpine atmosphere! Restaurants generally cater for very hearty appetites and offer excellent value for money.

Apres

The night life in Falls Creek is varied and depending on taste and mood can be as relaxed or as lively as you want it to be. There is a good range of bars, clubs and music venues if you fancy a wild time and when you want a more relaxed kind of apres ski, few things compare with a sauna or hot tub, followed by drinks in front of the open fire at your ski lodge.

Boarding

Falls Creek is one of the most popular resorts in the southern hemisphere for boarders. A boarder cross course is constructed on Headwater trail next to the half pipe and is usually 600 metres or longer in length. The good choice of runs also allows for excellent carving and free riding while the night life is known to be pretty lively, The park is designed by snowboarders and constantly redesigned and improved throughout the season. Obstacles are reset throughout the season to provide a constant challenge to boarders.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
342m
Ski area
75
Resort height
1500m
Airport
Albury
Train station
Albury
beginner
40%
intermediate
40%
expert
20%

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