Resort Profile: Thredbo

By adamrowden, 4 Dec '12 at 13:42

Australia's not all sun and surf, come the winter months the surfer dudes head for the snow. Situated in the Snowy mountains of New South Wales, Thredbo is Australia's best known resort. An Alpine style village, gum tree lined runs and that " no worries" attitude.

A season in Thredbo will get you away from the backpacker masses. High prices in Thredbo village means many workers and guests stay in the lakeside town of Jindabyne, 33kms down the Alpine Way.

On the Piste

If you are a bit of a speed demon then you will want to hit the longest run in Australia, The Crackenback Supertrail. It starts from Karels (the highest lifted point in Oz) and you can speed right down to Friday Flat which is 5.9km away. Some bits are go-slow but on quiet days it’s a blast.

A quarter of this resort’s 480 hectares of skiable terrain are serviced by snowmaking machines, which means that Thredbo has the largest snowmaking coverage in the Southern Hemisphere.

If you are just starting out then you can head over to Friday Flat where there is a purpose-built area for beginners. This beginners’ patch has a gentle wide slope and a slow quad chair to access it.

Intermediates can enjoy themselves in Thredbo as well as there are plenty of slopes to excite them. There is a decent variety of trail skiing and there is also some of the best steep skiing in Australia in Thredbo. Runs like Cannonball, Funnel Web and Michael’s Mistake are tough so though there isn’t a huge array of expert runs, there are enough for top skiers to have a good time.

Merrits is suppose to be the freestylers playground but the snow usually only allows for a couple of tabletops and rails to be useable at any one time. The half pipe is built above the Cruiser chair for the Sprite Sessions but is only maintained for this event. There's a BoarderX also at Merrits.

Off-Piste

Golf course bowl: From the top of Karels T-bar. Be careful not to go too far down, its a tough walk if you miss the runout. Karels is the first lift to go on wind hold (and wind is common here) so get up here whenever you have the chance.

The Bluff: Get there early on powder days for a steep ride before hitting the trees.

Although Thredbo lacks huge off-piste areas there are many fun diversions through the trees near the main runs. Try "bushranger" and the areas between the Supertrail and High Noon.

Living in Resort

Due to the costs of living in Thredbo many staff and guests live in Jindabyne and commute the 33kms up the Alpine Way. Having a car is a big advantage though hitching isn't a problem (especially if you are early and wearing uniform). The drive takes 30 mins on a good day but can be a lot more if there is snow or traffic. Thredbo is situated in a National Park so all cars have to pay an entrance fee. This is $15 daily or $80 for an annual pass ($20 for KT staff). The National Parks staff will let you know when chains are required. Watch out for wildlife on the road - Kangaroos, wombats and emus all like to say G'day.

Accomodation in Thredbo is crowded and expensive. Most apartments are organised the year before by returning staff. If you are determined not to get up early to catch first lifts then you may be lucky if you arrive in May/June. Some brave souls have also been known to sleep in vans in the car park or camp at the nearby Thredbo Diggings. If you can handle the commute, Jindabyne is much more reasonable. KT staff are put up in a complex of four bedroom apartments (2 per room) which creates a great workers scene. If you want peace and quite and you have a car East Jindabyne is cheaper still. Most places in Jindabyne are within walking distance of the town centre but don't walk across the sports field alone at night! The local bars run a bus service on busy nights.

Bars and Clubs
Thredbo:
The Thredbo Alpine Hotel houses four of the most popular venues -
The Bistro: pool, jukebox and food. The most laidback.
The Schuss: Schnapps and live music
Lounge Bar: Sophisticated Apres ski, best place to spot any celebs (usually aussie TV presenters!)
The Keller: Late night dancing

Jindabyne:
Banjo Patersons: The only place to go on Wednesdays ( Thredbo staff payday)
Jindabyne Bowling club ( The Bowl-O): Cheap drinks and pool tables. Dont miss the Friday night meat raffles (really...)
Lake Jindabyne Hotel (LJs): Was the main live music venue in previous seasons. A change of ownership should see it return to is former glory in 2004.
The Balcony: Late night boogie spot.
The Station: out of town but with all night shuttle buses. Venue for Winterbeats festival and top DJs.

Away Days
If you live in Jindabyne you probably wont get that claustrophobic resort feeling but if you fancy a day away Cooma is only an hour away and Canberra is about 2.5hrs. If you are getting bored with Thredbos' runs then try a day with the opposition, at Perisher Blue.

Shopping
Food shopping and petrol is extortionate in Thredbo so most people do their shopping at the IGA in Jindabyne. Some reasonably priced gear can be bought in Jindabyne ( well, reasonable if you are still thinking in Sterling). Its also a good idea to buy any end of season bargains if you are planning to head to the northern hemisphere resorts once your done. Try Rebel Sports, First Tracks and Natural High - all at Nuggets Crossing.

Eating Out
Jindabyne has a range of eating options. It has Italian, Pizza, Chinese, Mexican, Noodles and Fish and chips around town. Most places are BYO so you can save a few dollars with some cheap wine. Wilfeds Cafe:In the National Park visitor centre. Nice for lunch or dinner before catching a film next door. Il Lago: Nuggets Crossing. Italian with excellent gourmet pizza. Perfect for an end of season treat. Check opening times as it closes some nights at off-peak times. The Balcony: Old Town Centre. No need to brave the cold when you get beer munchies. This kebab shop is right in the bar.

Mountain Restaurants
Fridays: The best place at the Friday Flat end of the village to get your lunchtime snacks. Share a large plate of chips and gravy for only $4.50. Before you catch the first lifts the breakie burgers are the ultimate hangover cure. If you end up at Valley Terminal around lunchtime grab a "double banga sanga" from the outdoor barbeque and take a seat in the sun.

Finding employment
Most staff work for the mountain (Kosciuszko Thredbo or KT) which runs the lifts, ticket office, ski school, rental shops and the Thredbo Alpine Hotel. Lift passes are expensive ($80 a day and around $1000 for the season) so its worth working for them to save that cost. Applications must be in by March/April but some vacancies arise in the season. Theres also work to be found in the many hotels and resturants. Check the notice board in Nuggets Crossing. There are no tour operators like in Europe so repping jobs are nonexistent.

Après-ski Options
Not a big scene due to everyone scarpering around 5pm to get a lift to Jindy. If you want a night off the beer or goon (australias answer to chalet wine) you could try night skiing, the cinema, the swimming pool or the many activities on offer at Thredbo sports centre.

Thanks to Lindsay Adams for putting the majority of this Guide together.

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