For parents, nothing compares to seeing a child's reaction when stepping onto snow for the first time or seeing the wonder and awe in their eyes when they catch their first glimpse of a falling snowflake. Imagine hearing the squeals of laughter of kids who give in to the urge to throw themselves down onto a snow field while waving their hands and legs to create their first snow angel.
In Australia we're lucky as winter means easy access to some fantastic snowfields where kids and parents can experience all of this and more. Most snowfields now have fantastic facilities with families in mind, and many ski fields and villages offer beginner ski and snow boarding lessons for kids, however some offer just that little bit more, making a snow holiday for the family a unique experience. Here are just a few snowfields to check out.
Thredbo Alpine Village
Situated in the Snowy Mountains (Kosciuszko National Park), halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, Thredbo offers more for kids than you could imagine. The July Kids Snow Festival will be one highlight of the 2016 snow season. The festival will include the Thredbo animal theatre (Syd Koala, Rocky Cocky and Wally Wombat), who will lead the kids on a flare run down Friday Flight, ending with a spectacular fireworks display.
Kids will also be able to take part in Torah Bright's Mini Shred. The Olympic Gold medallist, along with a few top Australian snowboarders and skiers, will be teaching kids a few of their secrets and skills.
For those a little less adventurous, or for the littlies, Twilight Tubing in the Thredbo Snow Play area is a must. The Thredbo Snow Play area is a great place to teach kids to snow tube, toboggan and to build the mandatory snowman.
Also located in the Kosciuszko National Park, Perisher offers lots of areas for snow play and plenty of ski fields and toboggan runs, but making Perisher unique is the Skitube. The Skitube is a Swiss designed rack-rail train that takes guests through underground tunnels carved into the Perisher Range, straight up to the Perisher Resort's doorstep.
For something different, families can take a ride on one of Perisher's snow groomers at night to see firsthand how the ski slopes are cleared up for the next day's activities.
Perisher is also home to Tube Town where kids are able to tube down a snow slope without having to climb back up the hill. Tubes are towed back up the hill, riders along with them!
The Selwyn Snowfields are family owned and are also found in the Snowy Mountains. Home to a Snow Sports School (Selwyn Snow World) they offer lessons that vary depending on your children's ages. Mini Mites for 18 month to 4 year olds introduces kids to snow awareness, with indoor and outdoor games. The Mighty Mites program includes introductory ski lessons for 3 to 4 year olds, and the Mega Mites class does the same but is structured for the 5 to 7 year old age bracket.
The Selwyn Snowfields also boast a Mini Terrain Park consisting of boxes, rails and jumps for kids to snowboard around and over.
Just a 3 hour drive from Melbourne (248kms) you'll find Mt Buller. With 22 ski lifts, including 13 chairlifts and 4 magic carpets, getting to the top and enjoying the view is easy for families. As well as boasting the highest movie cinema in Australia, Mt Buller has 2 toboggan parks with their own snowmaking machines so the kids never have to miss out.
If there's a reason to definitely take the kids to Mt Buller, it's the Sled Dog Tours. On these tours the kids will get to meet and have photos taken with the Siberian Huskies that lead the sleds. There are different tours available. The Sled Dog Tours Sampler offers families a short sled ride through the crisp white Mt Buller scenery. The Mountain View Run is a one hour sledding experience and the Harnessed Dreams Tour is one where you have the option of relaxing for the hour and a half, or you can have a go at driving yourself! Then the ultimate Powder Hound Adventure Tour is three and a half hours of adventure sledding through the High Country, with a refreshment stop at the Howqua Gap Hut. The perfect chance to lead your own Siberian Husky Team!
Charlotte Pass is Australia's highest resort at over 1765 metres high and because of this has the best quality snow you will find. As it's completely snowbound, it's not possible to drive up to resort, it can only be accessed by Oversnow Transport. This in itself makes it an exciting destination for kids and families.
Some highlights at Charlotte Pass for the kids include the Kids Flare Run every week, a weekly kid's race where the littlies can show off any new ski skills they've learnt, and as they need endless amounts of energy on the snowfields, Charlotte Pass also hosts free Fairy Floss Fridays and Snow Cone Mondays.
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is only a 90 minute drive from Melbourne, making it an ideal destination for any family that would prefer a day trip to the snow. New to Lake Mountain is the Burton Riglet Park, which provides a safe and controlled environment for 3 to 6 year olds to learn to snowboard. Also new is the Fischer Nordic Fun Park which allows kids under 10 the chance to learn to ski for free on Saturday's and Sunday's this season.
Hotham Alpine Resort
Located in the Alpine National Park, about a 4.5 hour drive from Melbourne and 8 hours from Sydney, you'll find Mt Hotham. Home to some unique snow activities the kids will absolutely love, parents can't go wrong. Back Country Family Snowmobile Tours take the family (maximum of 4 people) on a tour offering magnificent views of the snow-capped valley while travelling on a custom made snowmobile trailer. Also available are petrol-powered Kids Snowmobiles, guaranteed fun for kids over 5 years old and up to 50kg. For more traditional snow play, kids have access to Snowman Moulds, Snowball Throwers, Shields and Snow Castle Moulds.
Mt Hotham is also home to Howling Husky Sled Dog Tours, including the Snowy Paws Express Tour, the Stumpy Tailed Trail Tour and the Possum Path Tour.