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Cheap or Free Family Snow Holidays in NSW, Australia

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Australia, Oceania

Budget Family Snow Holiday in NSW

Dreaming of an Australian Family Snowy Mountains Holiday, but think it's too expensive??

Well you've struck gold because I've discovered a way to make your holiday awesome and affordable. A few weeks back our family was blessed with an opportunity to go to the snow. I needed to stick to a budget of under $1500  for four nights (we need to keep our savings in the saving account for our world adventures). We did ok, but we would've had a way better time if I had known then what I know now.

While I was at the snow, I learned a lot about the ski fields, so I've got a few tips on how you can ski for free, and some absolutely vital info for those mamas (or papas) who like to ski with their littlies in a front / back pack...

Perisher on a family Budget - World Travel Ambitions

That's Elijah, first time skiing with mum at age 1 - August 2017

Now get ready to design your wonderful Family Snowy Mountains adventure that won't break your bank.

Accommodation (is not cheap)

Accommodation is not cheap. We had originally planned to be in a house share with my sister in Jindabyne (Jindabyne is the small lakeside town about 30 mins from Perisher and Thredbo ski fields). However due to a bit of miscommunication the bedding arrangements, it didn't work out.  We didn't want to overcrowd, so we chose a little cheapy (The High Country Motel) in Cooma (which to be honest isn't actually that much of a mission). Cooma actually turned out to be a blessing, cheap take out and supermarkets are handy to have nearby when adventuring with kids. The downside is being a bit further from the snow. 30 mins extra travel time each way doesn't bother me but might be something for you to consider.

Have a look at hotel pricing for your dates below:

Before you head all the way to the Snowy Mountains...

If you are taking little people, practice with gloves and beanies before you get there. We bought our baby mittens at the snow, and well, to be honest, he hated them. He pretty much screamed his head off, full roaring tanty, when we tried putting them on. It was a nightmare. His snowsuit had a built in hood which he tolerated, but he's not a fan of hats and beanies, so if it wasn't for that hood, we would've had an interesting time!

Happy Elijah - Perisher on a family budget - World Travel Ambitions

Elijah was more upset by wearing mittens than playing in the cold snow - August 2017

Invest in heaps of woollen socks. I learned that cotton holds moisture and is cold against the skin, whereas wool will retain the water, however warms against the skin. So if the socks get wet, wool won't be so bad. But cotton will be downright awful. So have a sweet as trip and pack lots of socks and don't forget to take a few pairs on the mountain so your day will last longer. My kids changed socks on various days and our spare set in the boot came in handy on one of our days.

Cold Feet at Perisher - World Travel Ambitions

Playing in the snow, we used a lot of our spare socks. Snow hurts little people, so be prepared. - August 2017

As usual, I'm sure you'll pack for a long car ride. If you want it to be enjoyable, please consider the little guys and girls in the back seat, and stop when needed. Take plenty of snacks, and failing that, technology. We are super lucky to have our little guy, who loves car trips (NOT). So we planned for an adventure (about six hours driving or more each way), however he actually surprised us and travelled brilliantly (winning yippee).

Ski Resorts and the Mountains

I tried to be a really awesome mum and do my research about taking my kids to Perisher (this was the field we were able to get some discounts on through my sister!). So I looked around their website and found next to no information about travelling with small people. 

So here are my suggestions for you to have an AMAZING time without spending a fortune.

Our first days (and mistakes so please don't do what we did)

We didn't do enough research (clearly) and spent our first day at the Ski Tube car park trying out the gentle slopes with the snow falling. Our strategy was to get the kids acquainted with the snow before we got to our paid day. 

Don't do what we did. Go and toboggan free at Thredbo!

Travel hack for starters - Toboggan free at Thredbo to save you a bit of money on ski passes - August 2017

Prior to this trip, we had only taken kids to an indoor snow field in Auckland, this was their first trip to the real snow. I don't know about your kids, but mine are painfully shy at times. When we took them to the indoor snow park last year, it took them over an hour to be comfortable to go and play in the snow. Maybe a lil weird, but hey.

Get your FREE on at the actual mountain!

So what we discovered was that you can go on the mountain for FREE. It is literally free to go on the ski fields. However, if you want to use any lifts or carpet runs etc, then you'll need a pass. 

What this means, is you can spend your first two, three, four days playing on the snow and ski fields (or the entire time if you like), and if your kids simply want to go tobogganing, they can. They can also go down the slow learner areas for free (they just have to walk themselves up the hill)... We discovered the carpet runs were terribly slow anyway, so my kids wouldn't have cared!

Thredbo for FREE (ish)

Give Thredbo a go (To access Thredbo, you will need to enter and pay the National Park fee).

Let the kids play in the snow, go tobogganing on a tobogganing field and let them run up and down the hill until they are tired! 

I'd suggest you drive through the town and see if you can pick up a sneaky car park. We got lucky and parked right in front of the playground! Thredbo has a playground, skateboard park, and trampolines (however we were there during the great snow, so everything was covered!)

There is also a leisure centre, and childcare, pretty much anything you'd need in a cute little resort town with a bakery...

Thredbo is a great little town for families - August 2017

Experience a Premium Hot Chocolate from the Bakery in Thredbo?

If you like hot chocolate, check out the bakery! They sell a Premium Hot Chocolate (I didn't think it was overpriced, but can't remember what I paid), and it could be the best Hot Chocolate I've ever had... 

Best Hot Chocolate in the World - NSW Budget Family Ski Holiday - World Travel Ambitions

Quite possibly the best hot chocolate I've ever had (minus the Cherries I already ate before thinking I needed to take the photo).

Tips for Perisher

So we found out (after picking up our hire and checking our stuff into lockers) that Perisher Valley is not the place to go for first timers (unless you are paying for ski school - however we were on a budget, and I like teaching my kids stuff, so it wasn't for us). 

The dumb thing for us was, we left our stuff at Perisher Valley, to go to Blue Cow. It's only one stop away on the Ski Tube. But when you are travelling with babies who like formula etc, it is always best to keep the belongings with you. This  impacted the quality of our day as we had to travel back to Perisher Valley early when our not so baby wanted his bottle!

Ski Free at Blue Cow

Blue Cow has a really easy run for the first timers and is not closed off for ski schools use. The area is perfect for kids to try out, and it is easy enough (and faster) for them to run back up the hill. The carpet run was slow as! 

Learn to ski free - You don't have to spend as much as you think - August 2017

We could have happily spent the entire day parked up here. If I were to do it again on a budget, we would've hired the gear out of town and parked at Blue Cow for two days and skied free. This discovery was awesome, so what you are about to read is brilliance!

So you want to have a really cheap ski adventure?

Ok, so most people who plan to go to the snow plan to pay LOTS of money. I get it. But what if you can have the skiing without the spending? 

After recognising a few things, namely,

  1. The ski tube car park is at the 'base' of Perisher.
  2. Perisher valley is a stop on the way up the mountain and,
  3. Blue Cow is technically higher than Perisher Valley,

I came to the realisation you can ski almost for free by either 

  • A) Park at Ski Tube car park, pay for a pass on the Ski Tube, and ride up to Blue Cow, or
  • B) Drive to Blue Cow (you'll need to pay the National Park fee)

then ski down to Perisher Valley. There is a beginner run, so if you've skied a little and feel comfortable it can be done. There are flat bits which might be a bit annoying, I didn't look at the full terrain, I didn't get the chance to do it myself because we only worked it out in the afternoon, shortly before we were leaving.

From Perisher Valley you can catch the Ski Tube free up to Blue Cow (go between Perisher Valley and Blue Cow as often as you like), or make sure you have your pass handy to travel back to the Ski Tube car park...

Snowy Mountains Important to Know for Mums or Dads who want to ski with a baby attached

So I learned the interesting way. After teaching my 10 year old to ski on the learner field, I travelled up the carpet run on skis with my baby in my Ergobaby carrier. After a few trips up, I was told I couldn't do it anymore, and I was not allowed on any lifts anywhere on the mountain with a baby attached. However, they don't prevent you from travelling on the ski tube with the baby attached!

You need to be careful of other people, but if you're confident, you can do anything with a baby carrier - August 2017

If you are super confident / keen, you could try my tip above (I'd suggest doing it solo first) and then if you are comfortable and it works for you, ski between Blue Cow and Perisher! 

Ok I didn't try it, so please give it a go on your own first... Have you done it before? Is it doable? I'm sure other readers would love to know, so don't hold back - I literally just followed lines on a map!

So there you have it, you can ski on a budget, you don't have to spend your entire holiday savings on a ski trip! Yippee!!! I'd love to know if you found this helpful, so please comment below if you did.

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About Us

We are a blended Kiwi family of six. Most of us were born in New Zealand and we have lived abroad for most of our lives. Rimaha, Melissa, Noah, Aaliyah and Elijah lived in Australia until February, 2020. We set off on our dream, getting stuck in Vietnam for 18 months before heading to Turkey, then Greece then Spain where we birthed Manaia at home on a tourist visa.

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