Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Published June 2nd 2013
Family friendly ideas without the expense
Views across snow covered mountain from the side of Mt Stirling
The rain is falling outside and the autumn leaves have turned brown and falling to the ground. The grey sky makes everything seem dull and lifeless. People take comfort in slow cooked meals and wile away the hours in the comfort of their home.
The only saviour to winter is when it starts to snow. Is there anything better in winter than going to the snow? Mountains become a white wonderland and people just seem happy, kids scream with delight at their first glimpse of snow.
For me I couldn't imagine a winter without going to the snow, it's something I look forward to every year. Nothing makes you feel more alive than being on top of a mountain in the snow with the winter sun glistening through the snow covered trees.
The downside of going to the snow is the expense. With four children we have had to become creative on how to go to the snow on a budget.
These are my tips on how to enjoy the snow for the least amount of money:
Mt Donna Buang image from Warburton visitor information website
Mt Donna Buang is a great option for snow play and tobogganing. This mountain is just out of Warburton and is an easy day trip from the city. What's great about Mt Donna Buang is that it is a National Park and not a ski resort and so the only cost here is a small gate fee when it's snowing (about $7). What's surprising is that there are actually three toboggan runs to enjoy without the crowds of the big mountains.
Make sure there is snow before heading up there; this a low mountain so snow falls aren't as plentiful and more unpredictable.
Lake Mountain is a scenic 120 kilometre drive from the city and is my pick if you want snow play, tobogganing and cross country skiing at reasonable prices.
Lake Mountain has great amenities for a small resort, offering ski and clothing hire on the mountain, retail ski wear shop, and a cafe/kiosk with plenty of seating, along with live music on the occasions we have been.
The cross country lessons are excellent value for adults. They are really fun and I don't think I will ever get sick of skiing here. Prices for lessons are $73 for adults and $62 for children. Included in the price is a 90 minute lesson, skis, boots, pole hire and trail pass. The lessons end at the top of the mountain so then it's up to you if you want to continue on and try different trails with your new found skills or return to have a hot chocolate at the cafe.
Vehicle entry to the resort is $51 on the weekend ($41 if booked online) and $42 midweek ($34 online).
Lake Mountain also have some snow play packages available for $135 for a family of four which includes vehicle entry, toboggan hire and a lunch voucher. Extra children are priced at $25 each.
My tip is to take your own food and borrow or buy cheap ski boots and waterproof pants from Aldi or similar, as you can sell them on eBay or Gumtree once you're finished with them and it works out to be better value than hiring toboggans and clothes.
If you're only going to the snow as a one off you really don't need to spend much money on clothes. Look through your wardrobe at home as there is sure to be clothing you can layer up in to keep warm, you really just need to have a waterproof top layer. The one thing I would buy is snow boots as there is nothing worse than cold feet and slipping over on the ice constantly.
Ski gear hire on the mountain gets very expensive with jacket and pant hire $31, snow boots $10.50, toboggan $12.50 or in a package with all those items for $41.50. So as you can see a family of four would add up quickly.
Mt Baw Baw image from Mt Baw Baw home page
My third mountain is Mt Baw Baw, as it's also one you can do as a day trip to avoid the added costs of accommodation. Mt Baw Baw is the only one of the three that caters for downhill skiing along with cross country and a toboggan run. It's approximately a 2.5 hour drive east of the city.
Mt Baw Baw offers the cheapest lift passes in Victoria but in saying that they also have the least amount of ski runs and lifts (seven lifts). Lift passes are $75 on weekends for adults and $55 for kids, with over 70's free (this may be the first time you wish you were 70). For cross country a single lift pass to get to the top of the mountain is $10.
Skiing lessons are available for primary school kids with the lift pass and lesson costing $55 for two hours or snow boarding lessons for $85. Secondary school aged lessons are $75 for skiing and $105 for snow boarding.
Vehicle entry is $43 per car on the weekend and $37 for a weekday entry. Season passes are $450 for adults and $330 for kids.
On the mountain there is ski/clothing hire, a ski wear retail shop and a cafe.
I must admit that the drive to this mountain is extremely windy and makes me feel queasy and the children sick.
We get up to the snow on a regular basis and we found that for our kids it was a better cost saving to get them waterproof rainwear and gumboots. We had trouble finding high quality waterproof clothing that would last and we ended up finding MK Nordika. Honestly if you want to keep your kids dry these can be a life saver.https://www.mknordika.com.au/