Introducing your toddler to skiing and snowboarding starts with simple snow play. Colin Stephens took his toddler and a toboggan to Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw. This is his trip report.
Our son had just turned three and my wife Jessica and I decided it was time to introduce him to the delights of snowsport.
Living in Melbourne most of our skiing has been at Mt Buller. However the long drive with a toddler wasn’t appealing. Instead we decided to try the smaller resorts of Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw, which are both around two and a half hours drive away.
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
If you’ve spent your snow holidays only at Australia’s large resorts then prepare to be surprised by Lake Mountain, it’s small. There’s no on-mountain accommodation and only two substantial buildings – ‘Rental’, which has a cafe and toboggans or cross country ski equipment for hire and ‘Retail’ which has a restaurant, an indoor kids play area, equipment for purchase and a convenient cold water fountain.
There’s no lake to see as as the mountain is named after the surveyor George Lake.
We parked close to the buildings and adjacent to the ‘Village Run’ toboggan area. The snow guns were were still in action and we copped a few ice hits as we trudged up to the top of the slope. By 9.30 am the main toboggan area was busy so we decided to head over to the quieter ‘Leadbeaters’ toboggan run.
It’s a little shorter than the Village run but has a few little crests making for an exciting ride. Unfortunately there’s no magic carpet to take you back to the top so you will have to walk.
Our son was really getting into tobogganing now, urging Jessica and I on each time we took him down the slope. After many runs and a few near crashes our son was running on low batteries (and we weren’t far behind) so we headed back towards the car for some a picnic lunch then snow man making.
As we later left Marysville our son announced that he loved the snow. He then fell asleep. Success.
Mt Baw Baw
After our initial snow play success we headed the following weekend to Mt Baw Baw, the closest ski resort to Melbourne.
The Mt Baw Baw website advises two ways to getting there. We chose the route via Erica, which seemed the safer option, despite being unsealed for part of the journey. Erica consists of a few houses, a pub and Erica Ski Hire. It’s a small but efficient operation, we soon got what we needed and were on our way.
The drive through the forest was beautiful although there were only a few pockets of snow along the way. We arrived at the mountain around 8.30am, just as things were starting to get busy.
After organising our gear and getting a map from the information centre we headed over to the Frosti Frog tobogganing area. This is the larger of two tobogganing areas, the other being behind the information centre. The Frosti Frog area was quiet when we arrived so we made the most it and got riding down the long and gentle slope.
Kelly’s cafe has a balcony with good views of the Frosti Frog area for those wanting a break and hot chocolates.
It was great fun but once again we had to carry our toboggan back up the hill. The map shows a magic carpet but it wasn’t there the day we visited. There’s also three T bars and a poma servicing several downhill runs.
The second toboggan area, behind the information centre, isn’t as wide or long as the Frost Frog but it’s steeper and has a sharp left hand turn at the bottom, making it an interesting ride. Our son loved it and we flew down many times.
Taking the left hand turn at speed could be tricky but I’m glad to say it was all thrills, and only a few small spills. When the little guy got tired we made a snowman near the bottom of the run.
Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw are completely different from the larger resorts that I’m used to for downhill skiing but they do feel more relaxed and they provide an excellent entry experience to the snow for the little ones.
Both resorts have a $56 car entry fee for the first day so do factor that into your budget. You can hire toboggans on site or in the nearby towns.