Family fun = the Southern Hemisphere's longest bobsled ride
Corin Forest Retreat is an alpine recreation area, 45 minutes south west of the CBD and only 25 minutes from the southern suburbs of Tuggeranong. To get to Corin Forest Retreat, drive along Tourist Drive 5 on Tidbinbilla road and turn off to into Corin Road. On the way up to the retreat you drive past the turnoff to the spectacular Gibralter Falls, so ensure you stop for a quick look before or after your forest fun.
The road winds up the hills and past large boulder outcrops before you see a rustic set of buildings under the trees, out in the middle of nowhere.
In the warmer months the retreat is open weekends, school holidays and public holidays. The Winter months have longer opening hours to take advantage of the snow, so check their website and facebook before you go for times.
As the warmer months are quieter at the retreat, you buy your bobsled tickets at the café. Despite it being Spring when we visited, it was at least 5 degrees cooler up there in their alpine location, so a roaring fire is a welcoming sight as you walk in.
There are a few ticketing options for enjoying the ride down the hill on the bobsled. Choose from: 1 ride down for $7, 2 rides for $12, 6 rides for $30, or 10 rides for $40. These deals can be shared amongst your group. Children under 5 go free with an adult and children under 8 need to go with an adult behind them. You need to buy your tickets before you go up the hill, however if you enjoy the ride and wish to buy more, you can also buy them at the starting point.
To get to the starting point you leave the main building and walk up part of the hill to the sled course. Our daughter, aged four, excitedly ran up the hill and walked to the starting area, however a piggyback could be required for younger children.
Walking up the hill you discover the cleared area that they use as the "Snow Play" in the colder months. During winter the area gets an average of two good dumps of snow, however it soon melts so they have snow machines to create a blanket of snow in the cleared areas. You can then toboggan and make a snowman in your allocated session time. I was told it is best to book your winter snow session time online before you arrive, as people can drive all the way up the mountain and not be able to get onto the snow. With hundreds of people visiting each day in Winter, it is a popular family activity for locals, school groups and tourists to Canberra.
When you reach the Starting Point, a staff member is there to explain to you the rules of using the bobsled - how to stop (pull the lever between your legs back), to go forward (push the lever all the way forward) and what to do if you fall off...which hopefully doesn't happen.
Then it is time to push the lever forward and move along to the "lift" that takes you up to the very top of the mountain. This is a leisurely ride up, giving you time to look around and check out the course next to you.
It takes a couple of turns to experiment with the speed and brake and then then you are off. When we began we were quite slow around the corners, however by half way down we were cruising around the corners and squealing with laughter.
The most comforting part of this ride is that you can go as fast or slow as you like, so you never feel out of control. This was important to me as I had my four year old daughter on board, however by the end she was calling out "Faster! Faster!"
When you get to the bottom, stay on board for your next ride, depending on how many you pay for, and head up to the top again. One ride wouldn't be enough as it takes one trip down to get used to the controls and how fast you really want to go. By the second ride you let loose and enjoy the experience a lot more.
After the adrenaline rush, you head back down the hill to the café and carpark. When we arrived they were stoking the wood fire pizza oven, so we decided to sit on the verandah and try one. Pizzas range from $12 - $20, with ham and pineapple, meat lovers, margarita and verde to choose from. Our daughter enjoyed watching the pizza cooking process and the staff at this family friendly attraction are happy to answer all the kid's questions.
The highlight of Corin Forest Retreat is the location - this fun family day out is less than half an hour from the southern suburbs of Canberra and it feels like you are far from city life. Due the remote location, mobile phone reception also disappears halfway up the hill, so you also don't have the interruption of technology. With kangaroos, birdlife and the stillness of the bush, it is easy to relax, unwind and have fun.
Although we will come back and experience this retreat in Winter, we enjoyed our warm weather experience - it was worth the drive up to experience the thrill of the Southern Hemisphere's longest Bobsled ride, right here in Canberra.
Our family is now hooked on this experience. We can't wait to come back with some thrill seeking friends and family to do it all over again.