It’s Australia’s answer to the super-resorts of North America and Europe – and it’s over twice the size of our next biggest resort, Thredbo. An amalgamation of four ski resort areas (Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega) and located in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains, Perisher has 1214 hectares of skiable terrain and is even serviced by an underground alpine railway, the Skitube. A resort with seven peaks offers skiers endless options – you could probably ski for an entire weekend without doing the same run twice.
How to get lift tickets
After a disrupted 2020 snow season, Perisher is set to open on 12 June in 2021 (and close 4 October). Lift tickets, as well as ski schools and ski rentals, will be available from late May – check the website for the most current dates and details. You will need to get your lift tickets in advance of your visit; on-the-day lift tickets are currently not available..
If you have an 2021 Epic Australia Pass (a season pass that gives you access to Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham during the 2021 season), current advice is that you won't need to make reservations to ski at Perisher. That said, demand for the slopes is expected to be high and social distancing measures will apply, so check the latest details before you go in case you need to reserve a spot. Pass holders will be given priority.
A quick guide to the snowfields
Perisher operates 47 lifts across four villages and seven peaks and if you can’t find terrain to your liking among all of this, then it’s unlikely you’ll find anything to your taste anywhere in the Antipodes. This is the best resort in Australia for beginners – 22 per cent of its slopes are wide-open, gentle and perfect for first-timers, while a further 60 per cent is designated intermediate terrain. But there are thrills and spills here for daredevils, too, with challenging backcountry to test your mettle, a mini halfpipe and more terrain parks than any other Australian resort (there’s five here, with one available under lights two nights a week).
Tip: The resort recommends guests wear face coverings, stay 1.5 metres apart and stay home if they're unwell. Cash won't be accepted on the mountain.
Where to stay
While Perisher doesn’t have the village facilities of nearby Thredbo, it’s possible to stay on-snow in style at a range of chalets, mountain inns and lodges and self-contained apartments (many visitors also choose to stay 30 minutes down the road in Jindabyne, too). At Kooloora Lodge (reopening in June), you're just 600 metres from the chair lifts and can tuck into a hot breakfast each morning that's included in your room rate. There's also a cosy communal fireplace to unwind after a day's fun on the slopes. For a more traditional-style cabin, Eiget Chalet is one of the sleekest accommodation options on the slopes, with refined interiors, a cosy fireplace, modern on-site restaurant that's perfect for apres, as well as a hot tub, sauna and massage room for the ultimate in evening relaxation. The Sundeck Hotel lays claim to being the highest hotel in the country and was the first ski-in, ski-out stay in Perisher. It offers rooms from one to four people and three meals a day for guests.
Tip: Demand for accommodation is anticipated to be high this year so book your stay as early as possible. Be sure to check minimum stay lengths and your hotel's cancellation policy ahead of time.
Where to go for dinner and aprés
For those who choose to stay on the mountain, Perisher offers a village-lost-in-the-mountains atmosphere (all but those with on-mountain accommodation leave by dark). There’s no shortage of dining choices up here, covering everything from hot chocolate and doughnuts (essential) to pizza, Mexican and noodles. One of the best options is The Man From Snowy River. Start with cocktails by the open stone fireplace, then take your time over a three-course set menu overlooking Perisher’s Front Valley that might include hearty fare such as twice-baked cheese souffle, slow-roasted lamb rump from Cowra and decadent choc-chip cookies served with ice-cream for dessert. Eiget Chalet White Spider Restaurant and Bar is a sophisticated option open from June to October; in years past a duck liver mousse has been paired with crisp, slim shards of crostini and a char-grilled pork cutlet has been dressed in honey, ginger and soy and served with gai-lan and Dutch carrots.
This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.
Images credit: Perisher/Destination NSW