After hearing so much about how wonderful Ski School is, we planned a trip to the mountains so that G1 and G2 could get their first taste of skiing.
Where to go?
Although there are many places you can go skiing with the kids, we chose Falls Creek in Victoria, Australia because:
- We have family in the region.
- Victorian mountains are “ski in, ski out” which means that you are staying on the mountain and you don’t need to take a bus shuttle to get to the ski slopes (makes the mornings a lot easier when you have sluggish little ones that struggle to get out of bed and get the engine going).
- Of the skiing mountains in Victoria, Falls Creek appears to have the best chance of getting snow. They also offer a snowsports guarantee – “48 hours prior to your arrival if there is insufficient snow to enable three designated downhill runs at Falls Creek to be open for snowsports, then all payments proved to be received (less booking fee) will be refunded”.
- Falls Creek touts itself to be family friendly, offering a range of other fun activities that the whole family can do (aside from skiing or snowboarding). At least if the skiing or snowboarding tanks, you’ll be sure the kids might still find something else they can enjoy doing up in the snow.
Not that we picked it for these reasons, but I thought I should also add:
- Falls Creek offers night skiing on Wombat’s Ramble on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- There is also a fire show on Thursday evenings at the Village Bowl
Where to stay at Falls Creek?
Admittedly, I was a little late on the planning for this so I had to grab whatever I could get my hands on. We ended up at Falls Creek Country Club which is great if you already have your ski legs because it is right at the bottom of Gully Chair Lift (which takes you up to the Village Bowl) so you can literally hit the slopes the moment you walk out the door. There is also a ski hire nearby adding to the convenience of the location. Non-skiers can also use Gully Chair Lift for free which is handy if you aren’t planning to ski but you want to take the kids snow tubing or to play at the snow park.
For the newbie skiers/snowboarders that need to trek up to Cloud 9 for lessons, it is a bit of a hike to the Falls Express Chair Lift. There is a free shuttle not too far away if you don’t want to manage the hike. If you are renting your gear from QT, they also offer free valet for your skis at the base of the Falls Express Chair Lift so you don’t have to lug your skis and boots around.
Another advantage with FCCC is that you can drive right up to their door to unload your car. With many other locations, you will have to hire a snow taxi to get there.
- full kitchen
- living area
- own drying cupboard
- sheets, towels and toiletries are all provided (I noticed that some places require you to BYO)
- indoor swimming pool and spa – although I told G1 we were there to ski not swim so we did not check it out
Planning the Trip
We drove up (you’ll need snow chains for your car that you can pick up at Mt Beauty just before heading up to Falls Creek) but you can also take a bus or fly! If you’re travelling by car, you need to pay for resort entry which is charged per car and according to the number of days you will be on the mountain.
Falls Creek offers lots of discounts if you book online, especially more than 2 weeks before travelling. If you do bundle packages, e.g. ski lift passes, lessons and gear, you can get extra discounts.
- Save 5% when you purchase Lift Passes online up to 2 weeks in advance
- Save 15% when you purchase Lift Passes* online 2 weeks or more in advance (*valid for Lift Passes for 2 or more consecutive days)
- Save an extra 10% when you bundle Rental or Snowsports School Lessons with your Lift Pass
- Save an extra 15% when you bundle both Rental and Snowsports School Lessons with your Lift Pass
- Purchase a 5 day or greater lift pass and ski or board for free from 1pm the day before
- Purchase a 1-4 day lift pass and ski or board from 3pm the day before
They also have other promotions which may change from time to time. While we were there, they had a Coffee Club for parents of children attending Ski School where you only had to top up $68 to get a 2 hour lesson, ski lift pass and coffee.
Lessons at Ski School
Here’s an outline of what they learn at Junior Ski (6 to 14 years):
G1 and G2 had two full day lessons at Ski School. I confess I was rather apprehensive that I might get called in to pick them up early but I really shouldn’t have been concerned because they both loved it. Not a wonder that they enjoyed themselves because the ski instructors were so fun. It always amazes me how they can be so cheerful and energetic every day – makes me wonder what pill they’re taking in the morning because I want some of that, too.
Just in case you’re having trouble helping your child adjust to Ski School, do check out the advice from Christopher Shulgan, The Star.
By the end of his two days, G2 learned how to stop in slow plough and hop in his skis – well, sort of. G1, according to his instructor, was ready for the next level after day 1 but he was a little apprehensive so he stayed in the beginners group for another day. At the end of that day, he followed me down Wombat’s Ramble in snow plough. It was tough going because he was scared but I was so proud of him because he willingly gave it a go (I didn’t even have to cajole or bribe him!) and he made it all the way down without me having to call for help.
This is exactly the reason why I think a sport like skiing is such a terrific experience for children. It helps them build up a database of experiences where they had to face their fears and press on. When you are halfway down the slope, there’s no going back – only forwards. I can’t think of a better way to teach this lesson to a child. I hope G1 remembers this the next time he has to face something really difficult and he feels he can’t go on.
And here he is at the bottom of Wombat’s Ramble: