Toboggangate, how Thredbo’s toboggan ban set the internet alight

Thredbo bans toboggans and the internet erupts.

You may have noticed that SnowsBest has stayed out of the tobogganing ban debate minus one simple social media post alerting our snow community that Thredbo had banned the sport on their site.

I’d love to say we’ve stayed schtum because we feel there are more important things in life to get twisted up about, I mean most of those ‘sleds’ are made from plastic and plastic is killing more animals in the world than a toboggan ever killed people.

Truth is our editor, yes, that’s me writing in third person, has been ill with the wo-man flu while traveling and more concerned with inciting sympathy for her (yes, my) ailments than jumping into the non snow media masses gaining clicks over the quelle horror of toboggans not allowed on the slopes.

So, here goes, finally, and no doubt at my own peril.

For the uninitiated, what’s all the out of control media fuss?

Thredbo banned toboggans on their leasehold land this year under the guise of safety, though I suspect it also has to do with car spaces in a limited carpark. Free snow play tobogganers that drive to Thredbo take up car spaces from skiers and snowboarders who fork out over $100 a day for a lift pass and they probably also spend less money while at the resort. That’s business 101.

Then news reports announced Perisher had done the same, despite Perisher having never offered free for all tobogganing in the first place. Perisher did not ban toboggans, instead they have long offered a dedicated snow play area where tobogganing is welcomed on Pipers Ridge if you’re prepared to walk or take the $31 scenic chair. But they are not allowed on ski runs, at any Aussie resort, and why would they?

Meanwhile in Victoria Falls Creek has long offered free tobogganing (so long as you have an approved toboggan and if you don’t then you can rent one) on two dedicated snow play slopes with a free shuttle in their snow play area. Hotham have, also free, Possum Flat which is also a dedicated snowplay area accessed by a free bus. Mt Buller have two dedicated, and free, toboggan areas. Though to be fair you have to pay the national park entry fees in Victoria as well.

Though clearly Victoria is encouraging more families to introduce their little ones to the snow with fun snow play and the future of skiing and snowboarding may tip in their favour down the timeline. But ski resorts are not cheap to run in Australia, the seasons are short, and yes the snow is free for all to play in outside of a ski resort (minus the National Park entry fee for New South Welshpersons) including at Dead Horse Gap just down the road from Thredbo.

Thredbo’s a business and it’s their right to decide how they make money from that business and how they service their paying customers. We may not like it but you can vote with your wallet if you don’t and it could be worse, they could have started charging for that car parking instead.

But their choice to post the icon below on their website may have been a red flag to keyboard warriors who saw it as banning the minorities, forgetting the minority that most skiers and boarders live in is a white one (pun not intended).

However we all, myself included, want to defend the future of the sport we love and that means defending snow access for those who literally cannot afford lift passes, who just want to rightfully enjoy the snow from Mother Nature, and who may as a result of enjoying the snow go on to save their scarce pennies to become paying skiers and boarders down the track.

Others applauded Thredbo’s decision as let’s face it, toboggans are dangerous if going a hundred miles an hour down the Super Trail. But have you ever seen a toboggan on a blue or black run on Thredbo anyway? Though I’ve seen plenty of drunkards exit mid mountain Kareele Hutte in a rather dubious ski manner.

I am sure that if we saw tobogganers on any main skiing slope on any main resort in Australia you’d also see ski patrol on the way to pick up the pieces and remove them from the slopes anyway. However the choice to remove toboggan snow from Thredbo in any shape or form is seen by many as yet another way skiing and boarding is reduced to only the middle class wealthy.

Those same enraged people are forgetting that Thredbo also offers free skiing for kids under 18 provided one adult purchases a three or five day lift pass in June and September. Yes, free skiing. It’s not like they are not doing what they can to help make skiing family affordable.

The reality of the nanny state and entitled world we have created for ourselves is that safety comes first and that personal liability, accountability and consequence is over managed with occupational health and safety laws designed to reduce potential litigation. The other reality is that the ski industry is not necessarily a growing one and money is required to keep a resort profitable to then invest profits into problem solving a future industry challenged by global warming and the fickle loyalty of the millennial generation.

If you are desperate to toboggan at a ski resort in New South Wales then you can go to Perisher (as per above) or for $15 for the full day you can hit up Selwyn Snow Resort or if you’re closer to Canberra in the ACT then try Corin Forest where for $20 you can toboggan for 2.5 hours to your heart (and bum’s) content.

Rant over. Now about that plastic…

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I wish that Perisher would ban the sale of sight seeing passes on busy days. The pedestrians clogging the already crowded lift lines are, frankly a pain in the backside. They also have a habit of standing in the middle of the run as you get off the quad to head over to blue cow.

  2. Rachael, all fine but don’t brief local businesses saying its a issue of parking and buses and free snow play and then announce to the public 2 weeks before the opening of the ski season that its a safety issue because that is a load of trollop from this very untrustworthy company.

  3. Feeling absolutely appalled and disgusted with Thredbo Ski Resort. Just recently we decided to book a short holiday in July to give the kids “The snow experience”. Tobogganing is all we planned to do due to the short period of time we have to spend at the snow. Only two weeks ago I did a lot of resear ch to find where we should take the kids to have their toboggan rides. No where at all did I find anything on your website or readings that noted Tobogganing was banned. Again this was only two weeks ago. We have since booked accomodation at $1500.00 and purchased over $600.00 worth of snow clothing. Today 1 week before the snow season you release your new ruling. I understand the decision behind this, however, as a company that makes money off people like ourselves, you had an obligation to put this up well and truly before the snow season begins. If we had known this was the case, we would not have booked to come to the snow. We have now invested our hard earned money into a trip that is now going to be wasted. How does Thredbo Ski Resort plan to compensate or assist families like mine? Not a happy customer.

  4. Actually Nicole, under Australian Consumer Law, if they cant deliver part of the service they advertised and you’ve purchased then you should be compensated for this. They can cancel or ban some items, but you still are entitled to be compensated for this. You can demand ALL of your money back or request that they provide other services to you for free or if you really wanted to push it then you could sue for consequential losses if you had to book somewhere else at this late stage to go Toboganning. I suggest that you contact office of fair trading to confirm what I’ve just told you.

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