There’s a distinct chill in the air and that only means one thing at Casa Eats World! Nagging. Incessant freakin’ nagging! Because, you see, both my wee powder pups are hooked on ice. Thankfully though, it is the type that falls from the sky as opposed to the stuff that’s manufactured in dodgy suburban garages.
As soon as the temperature drops below 20 degrees, Raffles starts pulling out his gloves and thermals and Sugarpuff stubbornly refuses to wear anything on her feet other than chunky black après ski boots. On one hand, it’s saving me big bucks on footwear, but on the other it tends to make her look like the leader of some kind of infant school bikie gang.
Jokes aside, the devilish duo really have become so addicted to snow that they may be in need of an intervention, and a visit to Victoria’s Falls Creek only serves to fuel their frosty obsession.
The White Stuff
Sheer eecklessness coupled with a low centre of gravity has seen my little snowman graduate from the relative safety of the magic carpet to attempting black runs, and causing his mother a dozen heart attacks a day, in just a few short seasons. And my wee wild thing, Sugarpuff, is fast following in his ski boot clad footsteps.
Zero credit for their burgeoning snow skills goes to their agility-challenged mother, instead it’s all down to the awesome instructors at the ski schools we insist they attend at the start of every single snow trip. On this occasion, Raff and his instructor waste no time and head straight off for a warm up down the 2.4-kilometre Wombat Ramble, Australia’s longest beginners’ run, before shredding their way down the more advanced Highway 83.
Meanwhile, Falls Creek’s Kids Snowsports School’s purpose-built beginner terrain, undercover magic carpet, and patient instructors are making learning easy and fun for a giggling Sugarpuff, who seems as intent on chucking snowballs at their butts as she does learning to actually ski.
The resort offers a choice of freeride, freestyle and slopestyle skiing and snowboarding, as well as backcountry skiing. There are also snowshoe tours for those people not inclined to extreme laziness like myself.
After lessons Sugarpuff and her dad head to Fox Trail, a gentle beginners run, for a little more practise while Raff and I, fuelled up on sugary Snonuts’ donuts, head to the more advanced Ruined Castle.
But in his haste to fling himself down the mountain, he doesn’t even realise his mother has fallen arse-over-tit off the lift and is currently impersonating a speed bump for all the other skiers attempting to exit the lift. When he does finally stop to locate his clumsy mother, I signal that he’s ok to take the run on his own and after dusting myself off, stop to soak up the glorious views while I wait for him to catch the next lift back up.
In the interests of not being humiliated further by a nine-year-old, I decide to swap places with Mr Eats World and spend the rest of the afternoon with Sugarpuff, practicing snow ploughs, snuggling, and smashing down more sugar-dusted donuts and Smurf-blue freak shakes at Snonuts’. Like a boss. Take that Raffles.
Get your motor running
Later that afternoon I decide to demonstrate to my speedy powder pup what I’m really made of as we explore the Bogong High Plains by snowmobile.
Falls Creek is the only resort in Australia where you can drive your own snowmobile but, as you need a valid license to drive, Raffles has no choice but to hang on tight and leave his mama to drive the motorised beast like she stole it… all the way up to the lofty heights of Mount McKay.
I’m not sure if his breathlessness is due to the spectacular sight of the sun setting over an endless sea of white or because of his mother’s lead foot, but either way, he’s so impressed that when we return, Raff excitedly tells Mr Eats World that “Mum drives like a maniac. She’s so cool!”
And my status as action mum is reinstated. Booyah!
The kids get their turn the following day at Falls Creek’s Village Bowl, a dedicated snow play zone, where they both get to fang about on kid-sized snowmobiles in a controlled snowmobile course where kids aged 5 and older can buzz about, though at a top speed of around 15km/h.
They also manage to squeeze in a few toboggan runs and slip and slide their way down the purpose-built snow tube run, which comes complete with carved snow walls and a banked corner finish that just about stops them from mowing me down.
Host with the most
But it wasn’t just the ridiculous amounts of fresh snow, 14 lifts, 92 runs, the bags full of sugary Snonuts’, the snowtubing and snowmobiling, or the sensational kids Snowsports school that turned us into raving Falls Creek fans. Nope, the credit for that needs to be given to the divine Janette, our host at Tracker’s Lodge, who has both Raffles and Sugarpuff quite literally eating out of her ski-gloved hands, that is when they’re not leaping all over her for cuddles.
Conveniently located along the The Falls Creek over snow shuttle route, Tracker’s Lodge is the ultimate in family friendly, with comfy family rooms, a spa and sauna for après ski defrosting, games room, kids club, a couple of handy toboggans the kids can borrow to fling themselves about the snow on, and a fantastic high resort position that’s easily accessible on skis.
But the pièce de résistance is dinner! Not only is the food incredible, but kids are served first so they can be whisked off by the lodge’s nanny to play the night away in the lodge’s very own kid’s club while the grown-ups (and a food obsessed Raffles) take their time over an insanely good nightly seven-course degustation dinner, that comes as part of the Lodge’s all-inclusive tariff.
Tracker’s Lodge is the icing on Falls Creek’s rather irresistible cake and can’t wait to get back for more snowy snuggles, skiing, scoffing of Snonuts and snowmobiling this winter.
FALLS CREEK WITH KIDS – NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
When to visit
The Falls Creeks snow season runs from 9 June to 7 October. We like to ski in in September as there is still plenty of snow, along with great value accommodation deals.
Falls Creek is 4.5 hours from Melbourne, 7.5 hours drive from Sydney and just under 2 hours from Albury. There are also regular winter bus services from most capital cities. If you are driving, don’t forget to rent tyre chains as you’re legally obliged to carry them, unless you are in a 4WD. There’s a designated parking area at the resort and an Oversnow Taxi will transport you and your gear to your village accommodation.
This is not negotiable. Families planning a holiday can’t afford not to have travel insurance, but for those planning to holiday on ice, it’s essential.
Always start your ski experience at ski school to get the kids’ snow skills up to speed. Book ahead to make sure they don’t miss out.
Ski gear is pricey and kids grow fast so, if it’s your first time and you don’t know yet what gear best suits you and yours, hiring is your best bet. Do splurge on some cosy après ski boots (you can pick them up reasonably cheap) to keep the kids safe on icy surfaces, and ensure your kids have properly fitted helmets that are worn correctly (positioned low enough in front to protect the forehead and not too tight or loose). Parents’ heads are important too, so set a good example with a helmet of your own.