Skiing is not something I naturally associate with Australia. Despite being here for 15 years, the beach-stereotype is still firmly entrenched. But in the winter months, Kosciuszko National Park plays host to a vibrant ski season, and thousands of Aussies trek down here to spend time cavorting in the snow.
We went for a weekend.
Despite it being a five-hour drive away, it is an easy enough trip. We head down after lunch on Friday afternoon and pull into Jindabyne in time for dinner and ski gear pick up. Our accommodation is a ram-shackled ski lodge styled bed and breakfast, perfectly comfortable rather than luxurious, run by some ex-South Africans. They are ready to pack up and explore the rest of Australia, and the house is on the market. While they wait for a buyer, they tend to the needs of us snow enthusiasts with hearty breakfasts early in the morning, and a roaring fire late into the evening.
On Saturday, we suit up and pile into the car to head to the snow. The ski-tube is a delightful relief after our New Zealand experience of snow-chains and switchbacks, and we decamp at Bullocks Flat and kit up. Boots on, skis and poles over shoulders, helmets swinging from a spare finger, we clatter and puff our way to the train.
It’s the part I hate most – the slog. Carrying gear that is heavy and unwieldy (because of course, you aren’t just carrying your own ski’s – no, you’ve swapped your poles for your kids ski’s too), clonking about in boots that are not designed for straight legs, sweating from the effort, but wrapped up because it is freezing on the lifts.
The train takes us up to Blue Cow and we disembark into a winter wonderland. Snow abounds and glistens in the bright sunlight pouring out of a blue sky. It is a different sort of environment to New Zealand. We are not as high up, and rocks and bushes form part of the scene. From high above, Arabella spots a grumpy echidnae making its way home, and we glimpse a bright parrot perched incongruously on a wintery branch.
It takes me a while to remember what I am supposed to do and I am relieved when Matt wants to do repeat runs on Easy Starter. We spend the whole afternoon there, so that, when we return on Sunday, suddenly we are both in the groove and enjoying the green runs Perisher has to offer. It has taken my whole life, but I have finally gone from enjoying the idea of a skiing holiday, to actually enjoying skiing. Snowboarding wipe-outs are a distant memory. We are now skiers, and I for one am happier for it.
On Saturday night we head to a fabulous Mexican restaurant for ribs (yes, that well known Mexican dish). The vibe at Cocina’s is warm and noisy – and the food utterly yum. We drink red wine and toast ourselves silly, and celebrate the opportunity to visit this lovely part of the world with good friends. How fortunate we indeed are.