Reviewing Australia's Biggest Resort - But Is It The Best?
There is the long going debate and it will never be settled. Perisher or Thredbo.
It all comes down to you, how you like to ride/ski and what you like to do once your day is done. They are a stone throw from each other. They will never interconnect, so a stone throw is an exaggeration. But they are quite close.
I’ve been coming down to the Australian Alps for over 15 years and Thredbo has always been my go to, but recently Perisher has been coming in consideration, and I have been seeing more of this place. It all depends on the crew I’m riding with, and what we want to do.
For size and variety of terrain, Perisher is the place to go. It has the largest skiable terrain in Australia and the most lifts. People often bang on about Thredbo as the steeper terrain, and yes it does have that, but Perisher is on par. So, I’m not sure where all that hype comes from. It’s back to the fact that we Aussies are rusted on and love a debate.
Perisher puts the gloves up when they joined with Smiggins Hole, Blue Cow and Guthega. And they stuck a killer blow when they were bought by Vail Resorts and came under the Epic Pass. Most Aussies love to bang on about how they holiday in the real alps, but with the combo of weekend trips to Perisher and the ability to tell friends and family (holding a Champagne and a smirk on their face) they are spending their summer vacay in Europe.
Now my big bug bear with Perisher is one thing and it’s frustrating. To stay overnight, you must park in an overnight car park and catch the SkiTube, which is an old train to the village. Forgot something in the car, fuck. Need to get a return train ride back to the car!
There is NO overnight parking for the village where you can access by foot. The do have a car park for the village, but you cannot leave your car there overnight, it will get towed! This is fine if you are staying in Jindabyne, but you still must pay the national park fees as well. No matter what you choose, you are going to get stung.
I’ve asked people and half way through explanations, and I tune out. It’s frustrating and one thing that really holds this place back. If you did want to day trip, you must get the train out, get you car and off you go. It takes forever, and it’s expensive to catch this old train in and out.
So, the hassle of it all means you are locked and loaded here all stay. I’m not one who likes to be told what to do, and this place makes me feel like I am told to say put. That’s enough of Mr Negative for now. Let’s crack on why this place is awesome. For Australian standards. Jeez I just can’t help myself!
Perisher has seven peaks! With this comes 1,245 or skiable terrain. If you break this down its four times the size of Mt Buller and Mt Hotham. 25 times bigger than Charlotte Pass and Selwyn. All mountains I’m yet to get to. It’s like seeing relatives at Christmas, you avoid them if you can.
Everyone these days loves to talk vertical and that is was Thredbo has on Perisher, most Perisher is spread out horizontally. The vertical drop is 355 metres but combine this with the multiple lifts you will get up your vertical miles quicker here than any other Australian resort.
Talking lifts. here you will find 47 lifts. Sounds massive, but and yes there is a but. They have eight express chairs, three high speed quad chairs. The rest of the chairs are the usual old ones no resorts likes to upgrade, and the rest is T-bars. These can be leg burner for snowboarders and a pain in the ass for skiers.
If you are looking at this from a beginner’s perspective 16% of the mountain is dedicated to the learners and Smiggins Hole is where you kick off. 67% intermediate meaning you can quickly advance. They the remaining 17% is for advanced. It’s not the advance you will find in Europe, but it does the job. Not feeling it. Well push harder, find your limit.
One part that is setting Perisher apart from the rest of Australia, and in my mind no one is even close. You will see a lot of internationals who come to train at Perisher in their offseason and here is the go-to in Australia.
They offer multiple parks for differing abilities as well as a superpipe! Conditions permitting. If you’re starting out and looking to kick off your flight miles, get to Yabby Flat Mini Terrain Park or Piper Terrain Park are the best places to take on the easier obstacles.
Looking to set it up a gear? Drop in the Slopestyle Terrain Park. You will see this on the Front Valley, so there is no hiding and can raise the stakes. This place has the crown as the best slopestyle terrain in Australia. Everyone is watching and that feeling of stomping a landing and you hear that, oooohh and yewww when you land makes it all worth the pain it took to get there.
Perisher and Thredbo both talk a big game. It’s like twin brothers duking it out every weekend. One thing they both have is loads of snow cannons for top ups.
Every trip to the snow is a gamble. I’ve booked trips to Europe and the US and had the major resorts not producing the results. The best bet is always August, durr. But even then, you can end up having a white out or worst, no pow. Just love it enough to enjoy your time on the mountain because you love it no matter what. Draw out positives.
Perisher is located in the Kosciuszko National Park of the Snowy Mountains. Perisher Resort is 489km southwest of Sydney (a drive that takes about 5.5-6 hours depending, 607km northeast of Melbourne (6-7 hours), 210km SW of Canberra, and 78km from the Cooma Airport (Snowy Mountains Airport). If you don’t want to battle the skitube and are happy with a commute to Perisher each day, Jindabyne is 31km drive that takes about 30 minutes.
Buses are available from Sydney and Canberra (airport and city), but most drive (chains need to be carried and fitted as directed). It’s a gamble to drive 2WD and a lot do. Best bet is to get a 4WD, but you don’t always need it. But I will say again, it’s a gamble and be sure to check the weather reports.
Ski-in ski-out accommodation is what this place is almost all about. By ski in ski out, that is a bit of an exaggeration. Most of accommodation in Perisher is a short walk to the lift. That is a big advantage is has over rivals. Most people will have to get a hotel or lodges (some with meal packages and others are self-catering), club lodges, and self-contained apartments. Depends on what you are after.
If you are not staying in Perisher Valley, there is accommodation spread out. Perisher Valley being the largest as mentioned, with the best restaurant and nightlife options. Smiggins Hole and Guthega are small and suited to families or people who want to keep to themselves.
Jindabyne is the main town serving both Perisher and the Thredbo resort. Here you will find the best nightlife. When you talk about Perisher and nightlife, they just don’t go together in a sentence. This place is known more to be a family resort. But in saying that, if you have the right crew, you become the party.
To sum it all up, Perisher is a large resort, so you have loads of options and it will keep you entertained for a week.
It’s not steep or deep. That’s Australia, but don’t be a negative Nancy. Terrain is for to intermediate riders. So, while Australia isn’t known for powder, you will be able to advance quick so when the pow comes you will be ready. The powder is tough but carving a turn of hardpack is a skill not everyone can master. Try and try again.
Enjoy Trend Setters.
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