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When the Thredbo ski resort in New South Wales opened in 1957 it was the realisation of the dreams of Tony Sponar, a Czech hydrographer who, having seen the area, felt sure that it was the ideal site for an alpine-style ski resort. Sponar's choice has come to more than fulfill his dreams; continuous investment has seen the resort grow steadily and today Thredbo is probably the top ski resort in Australia. It certainly has the country's highest lift point at 2037m, the greatest vertical drop of 672m, the longest ski run at 5.9km and the largest snowmaking facility in the southern hemisphere (although the south facing resort has a pretty good natural snow record). Not content to take their natural and ski resources for granted, from the very start, local entrepreneurs have gone all out to attract sportsmen and tourists and Thredbo regularly plays host to prestigious events of all kinds, from world cup skiing and snowboarding to international jazz and blues festivals. The investment in the resort continues apace; the most recent addition is the Australian Institute of Sport /Thredbo Alpine Training Centre (AIS), a world-class, multi-purpose training facility with state-of-the-art facilities available for use by elite and not-so-elite athletes. Indeed, Australia's Olympic team was resident at Thredbo for much of the run-up to the Sydney Games. Sadly, Thredbo came to the world's attention in 1997 when, in the midst of the village's 40th anniversary celebrations, a landslide buried two apartment buildings, killing 18 people, most of them ski instructors and other resort staff.

A year-round holiday destination with some of the country's longest and steepest trails, and housing the Australian Institute of Sport's Alpine Training Centre since October 1996. Thredbo has the largest snow making system in the southern hemisphere and Australia's highest peak, Mt Kosciusko (2228m), is accessible in summer on a 4 - 6 hour walk (round trip).

Mountain

Skiers of all standards will find plenty of good terrain at Thredbo. At Friday Flat there is a purpose-built area for beginners - a gentle wide slope and a slow quad chair - which helps novices build confidence and acquire skills quickly so they can progress to tackle the vast array of easier trails. Intermediates of all levels can ski all over the mountain and while experts may not find limitless runs to excite them, they will enjoy the variety of trail skiing. Thredbo does have some of the best steep skiing in Australia and runs like Cannonball, Funnel Web and Michael's Mistake are tough enough for most. In addition to the regular ski classes, the Thredbo ski school offers several schemes including special women's courses and SLAP (Ski Like a Professional) clinics.

Families

Thredbo has made great efforts to develop some of the best children's facilities around. Thredboland, at Friday Flat, is a special area for children from 3 years, mixing fun activities with ski and snowboard lessons. One of the activities entails a sort of trail map adventure where the children follow clues to get to the next spot on the mountain. As they travel around, they learn about the ecology and history of the Thredbo area. Sadly, the ecology programme is for 14 year olds and under! 15 to 18 year olds have their own 'Too Cool for School' courses which are available during school holidays only.

Eating Out

Eating out in New South Wales is a treat. Australia cooking is a fusion of several cultures which benefit from the excellent fresh local produce and you can expect large portions for your money. For the wine-lover, NSW is a paradise, being the source of some ot the world's finest wines - so eat, drink and be merry! There are far too many good places to mention them all but some recommendations are the seafood at Drakes' Restaurant, the recently-opened Segreto or, for a more casual eaterie, the Loose Goose. For a real treat (if you can get a table) try the Credo, which was recently voted the best restaurant in New South Wales.

Apres

Once the lifts shut down the village lights up as the 20 restaurants and 6 bars get into their stride. The nightlife is certainly lively and you need plenty of stamina to keep up with the regulars, who love to party. Lots of the pubs have happy hours and some strange antipodean cocktails are consumed in quantity. If you can stand the pace there is a night club where you can rage until the early morning. Those who prefer a more relaxed kind of apres-ski can seek out the more 'grown up' bars and restaurants - the locals will give you recommendations.

Boarding

Its relative proximity to Sydney makes Thredbo very popular with the snowboarding community and deservedly so, Off piste skiing is not allowed but there are great trails for carving at all levels plus a funpark with half pipe.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
672m
Ski area
70
Resort height
1365m
Airport
Sydney
Train station
Canberra
beginner
34%
intermediate
52%
expert
14%