Snow piles up at Australia’s ski fields – but most Aussies will never be able to afford to go there?

Snow piles up at Australia's ski fields - but most Aussies will never be able to afford to go there? 2
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Ski season is underway with early dumps of snow across NSW and Victorian ski fields but the cost of a trip to an alpine region has become unattainable for the average family especially as the cost of living rises. 

A weekend at the snow fields for a family of four can cost up to a whopping $5,000, and, not surprisingly, people have taken to social media to complain about the high prices.

One person noted the $1,000 price tag for two nights in Jindabyne – a village not far from the Perisher snowfields – was too expensive. 

Snowfields in Mount Buller, Victoria (pictured) where one-day lift passes ranged from $90-$184 between June and July this year

Snowfields in Mount Buller, Victoria (pictured) where one-day lift passes ranged from $90-$184 between June and July this year

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Thredbo charges $109-$149 for ski equipment for a day, with the smaller Mount Selwyn charging $50

Thredbo charges $109-$149 for ski equipment for a day, with the smaller Mount Selwyn charging $50

This season a single day lift ticket pass at Perisher, NSW (pictured) will set a skier back $184, an 88 per cent increase since 2008

This season a single day lift ticket pass at Perisher, NSW (pictured) will set a skier back $184, an 88 per cent increase since 2008

Another said that a few years ago ‘the average room price in Jindabyne was $250 a night’, while another said ‘sleeping in your car’ was a viable option. 

The prices led one commenter to post that he had planned a skiing holiday with his kids, but ‘the prices scared me away,’ and that it had worked out cheaper to go to Japan. 

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Another wrote their family received more ‘bang for buck’ by taking part in other sports, with ski resort costs being the main reason they ‘hardly ski in Australia anymore’.

‘I’ve gotten more into motorcycling and doing track days, which is something I can do on a monthly basis year round,’ the person wrote.  

‘It’s not a move away from skiing, but more a recognition of bang for buck. New Zealand, Japan and a well thought out USA or European trip, every other year or so, offers far better bang for skiing buck in my opinion.’

A Sydney family of four heading to the Thredbo snowfields for two nights can expect to fork out almost $5,000 including costs of accommodation, lift passes, gear hire, and petrol for the trip. 

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Two adults can expect to pay upwards of $3,300 for the same package at Thredbo.

This season one single-day lift ticket pass at Perisher will set a skier back $184, an 88 per cent increase since 2008. 

A full day lift pass at Thredbo costs between $179-$189 but a day pass in Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains costs between $99-$139 for an adult. 

A one-day lift pass for snowfields in Mount Buller, Victoria, range from $90-$184 between June and July this year. 

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Hiring ski equipment at Thredbo costs $109-$149 for a single day use, which include skis and poles or a snowboard, a helmet and boots from a range of brands. 

The Perisher ski resort offers ski, boot and pole hires for $96 for one day, and snowboard and boots can also be nabbed for the same price.  

Susan Daniel from the Ski Travel Company told Daily Mail Australia Aussie ski resorts are currently reporting two years’ worth of rollover bookings.

The snow covered hills at Perisher ski resort (pictured) have attracted holidaymakers prepared to spend up big to make the most of the winter season

The snow covered hills at Perisher ski resort (pictured) have attracted holidaymakers prepared to spend up big to make the most of the winter season

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And the consultant said the snow season’s brief run in Australia is a reason why costs can be expensive. 

‘It’s a short season, there’s only a small period of time when operators can make their revenue, therefore they have to charge premium prices for the service – that’s what it comes down to,’ Ms Daniel said.  

The Mount Selwyn ski resort, 400km south of the Perisher Valley, is reopening next month after being hit by bushfires in 2019/2020 and is a much cheaper option for first-timers and families. 

‘It’s only a little mountain, you can’t stay on the snow but you can stay in surrounding villages and towns,’ Ms Daniel said. 

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The one-day lift passes for this resort range from $79-$109, depending on dates, while one-day ski, poles and boots, or just snowboard and boot hire costs $50 for an adult.

A spokeswoman from the Valhalla Perisher resort, which has been heavily booked this season, said there is a range of prices for accommodation throughout the Snowy Mountains region. 

‘There is a variety of options at different price points … There are also lots of cost-effective ways to experience the snow, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snow play,’ the spokeswoman said. 

Consumers are not the only ones put off by high costs, as alpine businesses face a staggering 1,000 per cent increase in insurance premiums. 

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Businesses on the snowfields of Mount Hotham, in Victoria, are facing a bumper season after Covid destroyed operations over two seasons.

Yet the escalating insurance costs that came in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires are a burden shops and café businesses can not cope with. 

Mount Hotham Chamber of Commerce president Steve Belli told the ABC ski resort businesses are seeing ‘300 to 800 per cent increases,’ to their insurance cover costs. 

‘I know of one lodge that started at $13,000 in 2018-2019 and moved up to [about] $122,000, it becomes unworkable,’ Mr Belli said.

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Ski Travel Company consultant Susan Daniel explained the reason behind the expensive costs of ski resorts: 'It's a short season, there's only a small period of time when operators can make their revenue, therefore they have to charge premium prices for the service'

Ski Travel Company consultant Susan Daniel explained the reason behind the expensive costs of ski resorts: ‘It’s a short season, there’s only a small period of time when operators can make their revenue, therefore they have to charge premium prices for the service’

Jodie Hamill at the Chill Bar Cafe on the mountain said it was ‘ludicrous’ that some places can’t get insurance.

‘You buy a property, you want to know that you can be covered for insurance for fire or flood and you can’t get it,’ Ms Hamill said. 

Skimetric founder Adalbert Leibetseder told the AFR that skiing was an expensive sport all over the world and ski resort operators have been stepping up in providing a ‘world class skiing experience’.

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One such measure Aussie ski resorts have invested in is snow-making technology, to make up for the small-scale snowfall the country receives compared with the solid snowscapes of the U.S. and Japan. 

Australian Ski Areas Association (ASAA) chief executive Colin Hackworth told AFR: ‘Australian resorts have some of the best snowmaking systems anywhere in the world.’

‘Operating days at all the Australian ski resorts have increased over the last 15 years, not decreased, and that’s because of a very reliable and high-tech snowmaking system,’ Mr Hackworth said.

Perisher ski resort (pictured) at the Snowy Mountains in NSW. The resort spent up to $22million last year after installing snow-making infrastructure to make up for the small-scale snowfall Australia normally receives

Perisher ski resort (pictured) at the Snowy Mountains in NSW. The resort spent up to $22million last year after installing snow-making infrastructure to make up for the small-scale snowfall Australia normally receives

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Last year Perisher – Australia’s largest ski resort – spent $22million after installing snowmaking infrastructure since 2007, increasing the operating cost for the lodgings business.

The mounting costs come as the country faces cost of living increases, with inflation surging at its fastest pace in 21 years. 

In the year to March 2022, inflation grew by 5.1 per cent, with the International Monetary Fund speculating on whether it will keep climbing.

Aussies are also seeing weekly bill totals on the up, with families spending $1,770 a week on essentials. 

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Their transport costs surged by 12.9 per cent during the past year – double the already high inflation rate.  

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