It’s been a week since my 13 year old daughter and I had a last minute snow adventure in Australia. We waited until we knew the snow was sticking around and made a pilgrimage to Victoria to visit Falls Creek, a snow field I hadn’t visited since 2000.
In every sense of the word, the trip was epic. From our home in Newcastle, I drove solo on the 3000km round trip, had a great time and remained uninjured to deliver us safely home.
We camped in my trusty 25 year old tent in the beautiful park in Mount Beauty. Daily we rose early, sprinted to the amenities in the sub zero temperature to brush our teeth, and then headed up the hill to commence the days activities.
I’d forgotten how brutal the wind in Australian resorts can be. We were almost blasted off the chairlifts at times as they progressively closed behind us, but still we pushed on. When the whiteouts were so extreme we couldn’t see our feet, we navigated by feel and the sound of the closest lifts. When the grapple coated our goggles with ice that stuck like wet sand, we jettisoned them and ploughed on.
Amongst the trees we were alone and we could see a little. The snow was good, the crowds non-existent, and we were doing it.
We skied four days. We had planned five, but the trying conditions (wind, visibility, wet tent from torrential rain, increasing tiredness) caused me to pause and really consider the viability of the fifth days potential.
Would the wind settle? Would we remain uninjured? Would it snow? I couldn’t answer these unknowables, so I applied financial science to the things I did know.
I’d been keeping a (kind of) running tab on costs for our ‘budget’ ski trip; well, I’d been throwing receipts in the glovebox to examine when we returned home. There were three costs that had to be considered before we could stand on the snow; National Park entry fees, lift tickets, and ski hire.
I knew definitively two of these numbers, but wasn’t sure about how much an extra day of hire would be. I ball parked the hire cost and asked myself – was I prepared to spend a minimum of $300 to gamble on another day skiing?
I wasn’t prepared to risk it, and of course that was the Friday of the 30 centimetre dump, which we missed. That’s skiing and I accept it, but damn and boo.
Today, a week after we’ve returned home, I added up the cost of four days in the snow in Australia.
Some things to be considered before I reveal the cost –
1. We camped. It cost $185 for five nights.
2. We stayed overnight on the drive there ($150) and the way back ($240). This decision was made for fatigue safety.
3. I drive a hybrid car so petrol costs, despite the 3000km’s, was under $200.
4. We ate out for a few dinners, and had a few on mountain coffees, but otherwise we were eating cereal, bread rolls, and fruit, & drank box juices and long life milk (groceries $246). We ate at the pub in Gundagai ($58.30), the restaurant in Bundanoon ($126.00), an Italian restaurant in Mount Beauty ($55) and Stockpot restaurant also in Mount Beauty (outstanding for $97.00).
5. Comparatively, Falls Creek and Mount Beauty were well priced in relation to other resorts. Chain rental was $27.50, though we didn’t use them, and they were diamonds and brand new. The other hire gear was brand new, never been used or worn, & top shelf. We did pay a little more for this privilege of using demo gear ($345 for seven days for both of us), but it was well worth it.
So you ready? I wasn’t.
$3000. Three. Thousand. Dollars.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head. How can this be? Four days, four days!
Yes, if I lived closer it would have been less. If I owned gear it would have been less, though that cost is just transferable.
Yes, we had a lot of fun and some very cold times, but it’s all great for building strong women.
What I cannot reconcile is how it can cost so much for a lift ticket and national park entry fees. The argument used to be that the season is short and the businesses have only a limited time to make their living or recoup their investment.
However the boom in year round tourism for the alpine areas has negated that argument. So why is an adult lift ticket $126? And a child’s ticket more than half that cost at $74.