SKIING AT FALLS CREEK


Falls Creek is my favourite snow resort in Australia. It is Victoria’s largest snow resort and peaks at 1,780m. There’s something about Falls Creek    that is just so right. It might have something to do with snow covering every surface as far as the eye can see. It’s entirely ski in, ski out and isn’t terribly crowded. It’s also quite romantic. Here’s my spiel on the snow haven called Falls Creek.

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GETTING THERE FROM MELBOURNE

Falls Creek is 400km from Melbourne, about 5 hours drive. The route is very similar to Mt Hotham. In fact, if you miss the turnoff to Falls Creek, you’ll end up in Mt Hotham.

From Melbourne, head north on the Hume Hwy. There are multiple service centres along the route, and this time we stopped in Wallan. The Wallan service centre is almost identical to Glenrowan service centre. Both have a BP and McDonald’s.

Continue north with cruise control set (there are lots of speed cameras), and turn off onto the Great Alpine Road just before Wangaratta. Eventually you’ll need to make the decision where to turn off. There are two routes to get to Falls Creek from the Great Alpine Road.

Route 1 is to go through Bright, and turn left at Germantown onto Tawonga Gap Rd. The road does get windy just before reaching Mt Beauty, but this option is faster.

Route 2 is to turn off onto Happy Valley Rd towards Mt Beauty just after Myrtleford. You’ll find the roads isn’t as windy for as long. But in my opinion the windy bits are worse on this route than those on Route 1.

I prefer to take Route 1 because it’s faster. It also means I can quickly stop in Bright for some last minute groceries at Woolworths. There is a small supermarket in Falls Creek village, but it’s expensive and choice is limited. It’s also a good opportunity to get petrol as there is no fuel on Falls Creek. The last chance to fill up your car is in Mt Beauty, so make sure you have enough for up and down the mountain (30km one way), plus extra in-case something happens.

Eventually both routes merge at Mt Beauty, where it is the final 30km stretch to Falls Creek. In front of you will be two more windy sections. Unfortunately they are unavoidable and come with the alpine price tag. I’m not one for getting motion sick in cars, but this bit always seems to leave me feeling pretty average. Take it slow and put down a window, fresh cold air really helps.

RESORT ENTRY

In order to maintain the natural beauty of Falls Creek, you need to pay an entry fee. About 5km from Falls Creek is the resort entry gate. The resort entry fee goes towards things like snow clearing the roads, village shuttles and rubbish removal. The fee is $45 per car for 1 day.

You can buy the resort entry at the gate, online   , or at the service centre near the accommodation transfer building in Falls Creek. Buying online again is my favourite option. Just print out the pass and put it on your dashboard. The rest is taken care of.

SNOW CHAINS

As Falls Creek tends to get quite a bit of snow, you will more than likely be required to put on snowchains. It is required by law to carry these in your car during the snow season, although I’ve never been asked to prove I have them.

Keep in mind that conditions in the Alps changes rapidly. Even if it isn’t snowing, it can get very icy, which can be even harder to deal with than snow, as you can’t see it on the roads.

WHERE TO STAY

There are 3 options for accommodation.

FALLS CREEK VILLAGE

The most convenient and comfortable choice, Falls Creek village is my favourite. The village is located at the bottom of the slope, meaning every single accommodation has direct access to snow. This means you have full ski in, ski out right from your doorstep. Skiing down to the chairlift never felt so good.

The village has very peaceful vibe, covered in trees. In order to get around, you’ll need to walk up the sets of stairs, or you can take the village shuttle. As there is snow everywhere, make sure you have good snow shoes!

Staying in Falls Creek village is the most expensive option, but it’s totally worth it. Make sure you book in advance, as there is only a certain amount of accommodation available. For me, the cost is totally justified as I’m not willing to do to the drive up and down through the windy sections daily. It’s either I’m staying in the village, or I’m not going at all.

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MT BEAUTY

Just 30km from Falls Creek, Mt Beauty gives great access to this fantastic slope. The village is very small, but is the closest option outside of Falls Creek.

BRIGHT

This is the cheapest option, and will almost always have availability. It will take about an hour to travel from Bright to Falls Creek. Keep in mind that you may need to put snow chains on if it snows, and consequently take them off at the end of the day. This can mean you need to put snow chains on and off daily.


SILVERSKI HOTEL

I stayed at Silverski Boutique Hotel and Penthouse in a “Crash Pad” room. There is nothing glamorous about the room. Just simple bunks, TV, mini bar, table and chairs and little bathroom. The bunks were comfy, with two pillows provided, a warm duvet.

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Breakfast was provided daily, with eggs and bacon made to order just how you like them. There were two breads on offer, a toaster, and selection of jams, cereals, fruits, orange juice, tea and coffee. Honestly, I thought breakfast was great. Perfect start to a full on day on the slopes.


THE SLOPES

Falls Creek caters beautifully to a wide range of skiers. There is a dedicated area at Cloud 9 for beginners, with Wombats Ramble (the home run) being a beautiful long run that is entirely green, and easy for beginner skiers and snowboarders.

 

SOUTHERN SIDE

Featuring mostly intermediate runs, the southern side runs are all beautifully wide and lush with snow. The best feature of skiing here is that it overlooks out onto the Rocky Valley Lake, which is simply beautiful on a clear day. My favourite run on the southern side was Rapunzel’s, as the terrain is quite varied in height and isn’t all groomed. That means you can slide over to the right and have some fun navigating uneven terrain.

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For those up for a bit more of a challenge, the Ruined Castle area is just a little bit stepper. It features a terrain park and a few Black advanced runs here. My favourite here was Big Dipper. On Big Dipper, I made just two turns before gliding straight down. The speed you can gain on this slope is perfect for thrill seekers. The Ruined Castle terrain park is purely for advanced skiers and snowboarders. There are heaps of jumps, of all kinds of fun boxes, rails, slides, and even a big yellow bus. To top it off, the area has a pumping sound system.

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NORTHERN SIDE

Here you’ll find mostly advanced Black runs. There are only 2 lifts required for the area to be in full swing, Summit and International (which is a t-bar). From Summit, you’ll be able to enjoy Exhibition, The Slot, Cabbage Patch, Apres Vous and Skyline. My favourite here was The Slot. It has a steeper slope, however is so wide that it was no problem to ski down. I absolutely loved this section of the mountain, and spent majority of my time at Falls Creek exploring The Maze area.

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THE MAZE

The Maze area is home to a variety of Black runs, all of which were ungroomed. To be fair, what makes these runs Black is that they are ungroomed and slightly narrower. Majority aren’t tremendously steep, and if the runs were groomed, they would be classified Intermediate. To enter The Maze area after getting off the Summit chairlift, turn right, and then stick towards the left. When you see the sign for Skyline pointing straight, take a left and cross underneath International POMA. You’ll then see a gap between a fence, and a sign clearly marking The Maze area.

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There are two entries into The Maze area. It doesn’t matter too much which entry you take, as the entire area is skiable. If you want to ski Wishing Well, you’re better off going from the first entry. From the second entry, you’ll clearly see the signs for Valley of the Moon, Jigsaw, Rollercoaster and Bee Sting. On any of these runs, it’s quite easy to switch runs mid way without even knowing. Keep an eye out for the Black Diamond markers on trees to make sure you stick to the track.

My favourite Black run in The Maze was Jigsaw. I felt so accomplished when I did this the first time. The top of Jigsaw was a dream, beautiful varying terrain, plush snow, and not very steep at all. The second half of Jigsaw featured a sign that I haven’t seen anywhere else “Caution, Steeper Gradient ahead”. They meant it. The best thing I learnt over the course of my trip was mind over matter. You can safely get down anything so long as you think you can. Don’t psych yourself out. You can achieve more than you know!

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For intermediate skiers, the Wishing Well is a great run to introduce yourself to The Maze area. Wishing Well runs from the top of Summit, through the top of The Maze, down the border of the park, ending up at the bottom of International. During my visit, it was upgraded to a Black run, however this shouldn’t deter any intermediate skier! The run can be narrow in sections and ungroomed. It is beautifully long, meaning there is far less people here. There are some sections that really only allow for one person to be in it at a time, as it’s simply too narrow and bumpy for multiple people to be in it at once. Just make sure to keep moving and don’t get stuck behind a group.

LIFT PASSES

Falls Creek charges $125 per day for full price lift tickets. A neat little trick that Falls Creek introduced is to buy your lift pass in advance. If you buy your lift pass more than 14 days before your trip, you’ll get 15% off full price. If you buy between 1 and 13 days before, you’ll get 5% off. It’s absolutely worth your while to buy in advance. Conditions can of course vary, but you can save so much money if you buy in advance.

For example, for a 3 day ticket, buying on the day will cost $332. If you’d bought it 14 days in advance, the ticket only costs $282. That saving is lunch for 2 days.

WHERE TO EAT

For lunch, there are a few spots on the mountain to grab a quick bite at.

DICKY KNEE’S

Perfect for that quick bite to eat, you’ll find burgers, sausage rolls, pies, chips and kransky sausages here. Prices are all around $15+.

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CLOUD9

Serving a hearty lunchtime meal, Cloud9 had foods like butter chicken with rice, beef stroganoff, meatballs, and quick bites like pies and chips. The building is quite large and is the most popular on the mountain. Be prepared to queue up for 10 minutes during peak times.

For dinner in the village, there are plenty of options.

ELK

The food at Elk is unbelievably good, so it should come as no surprise that this is the number one restaurant in Falls Creek. Featuring wholesome and hearty food, no one ends up with a bad plate of food here. The atmosphere is classy, with a beautiful open fireplace in the centre of the restaurant. Marshmallows and sticks are provided, so help yourself to a toasted marshmallow treat after your meal. Best of all, the meals at Elk at entirely Gluten Free. I love nothing more than a restaurant that caters for more than just standard. These guys went absolutely above and beyond. Would happily eat here again, and in fact, wish they were in Melbourne too so I could eat there more often!

MILCH

The second best place to eat, Milch had fantastic food, at good prices. I enjoyed a hearty Lamb Shank with Polenta. We followed it up with some Gluhwien and Hot Apple Cider with cream (it tasted just like Apple pie, but liquid!)

 

I absolutely adore Falls Creek and will continue to come back to this snow lovers haven. With over 100cm of snow yearly, you really can’t go wrong.


About Sroka

Get up and go is my life motto. Challenge yourself to do things you thought were once impossible. Enjoy life's obscure moments, and laugh at misadventures.

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