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Wed 03 July 2019
Once again, the snow has come early across the Tasman, with falls of up to 45 centimetres across the Australian mountains in the last week of May.
The snow also came thick and fast – and early – in the 2017 and 2018 snow seasons – and it stayed around. By early July of both years, ski resort staff were scrambling through statistics to see if these might be some of the best snow years on record. Will this be another deep winter? We'll know in October.
For 2019, skiers and boarders have new lifts to ride at Perisher and Mount Buller and the tickets to ride have also changed. Season pass holders at Buller join Thredbo on the international Ikon Pass, while US Vail Resorts' purchase of Falls Creek and Hotham in Victoria put all those skiers on the rival Epic Pass.
The passes give reciprocal rights to the resorts in Australia and also a range of destinations in New Zealand, Japan, North America and Europe.
Meanwhile, forecasters are calling another solid start to the 2019 season with big storms predicted through the rest of this month and July. When that snow starts falling, an army of workers kicks into gear, to keep us safe – and happy – on the slopes.
From the staff whose job it is to keep us out of harm's way and to save us should we fall into it, to those who broadcast what we're missing when the snow's dumping in the mountains, we've talk to the key people behind the scenes of Australasia's ski resorts and asked them what's so special about our ski mountains – and how we should best enjoy them this snow season.
NEED TO KNOW: The closest thing Australia has to a year-round mountain resort, Thredbo has fabulous natural advantages: long runs, a river running through it, a charming village in layout, art and architecture.
NEW FOR 2019: Not much, as its village, lifts and snowmaking work well. Thredbo's sights are set on medium-term projects including an eight-person gondola up to a new upper-mountain base at Merritts and expanded children's and beginner facilities at Friday Flat.
FOR: Rated Best Australian Resort at the last two World Ski Awards. Big vertical drop and varied terrain make for great skiing and boarding. Good eating options on and off-mountain, along with a smart (the Denman, darling) and lively (Mumm Poolside, petal) apres-ski scene.
AGAINST: Weather can be wet down low and windy up high, the Friday Flat beginner area is often very crowded.