Tasmania’s little-known snow fields offer good, uncluttered slopes and spectacular backdrops.
Story By Andrew Bain
Tasmania's reputation for cold weather isn’t always matched by its reputation for snow. Few think of the island state as a winter outdoors destination, leaving its slopes and snow to a knowing few who savour its simplicity. Snow activities here come with little infrastructure and almost no après scene. They’re about the mountains, the bush, the snow and the act of skiing.
“I’ve skied all over the world and I have just as much fun on Ben Lomond,” says Geoff Foot, owner of ski-hire company Ben Lomond Snow Sports. “It’s very, very basic, but if you get a good season it’s really enjoyable up here.”
Ben Lomond is the larger of Tasmania’s two ski fields. Developed in the 1950s, its alpine runs are etched onto the slopes of 1572-metre-high Legges Tor, the second-highest mountain in the state. Snow conditions can be fickle, with the mountain just 50 kilometres from the coast, and the season is about half the length of mainland ski seasons, beginning in mid-July and usually running for about two months.
On fine weekends early in the season, it’s possible to find up to 2000 skiers on Ben Lomond’s runs, which are mostly beginner or intermediate, accessed by seven lifts. A snowmaking gun was trialled in 2011 and a second gun was purchased this season. For the first time, a dedicated snow-maker has been employed on the ski fields this winter. “We’re gradually coming into the 21st century,” Geoff says.
The village on Ben Lomond is located at the foot of the ski slopes and includes a pub – the Creek Inn – with accommodation, and about 11 club lodges. Ben Lomond Snow Sports rents out skis and toboggans, operates a small cafe and sells winter warmers such as beanies and gloves.
By resort standards, it’s a modest place, but it does have one advantage over most other Australian ski fields: quick accessibility. “You can be in Launceston, see it’s a good sunny day, and you can be up here in an hour,” Geoff says. “It’s not like on the mainland where [many people] have to drive six or seven hours. We’re very lucky.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #84
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2012