Why Mount Baw Baw is a perfect snow destination for families

"Let it snow, let it snow
I am one with the wind and sky!"

The children are unimpressed with my Elsa impersonation, but the blizzard conditions at Mount Baw Baw are certainly reminiscent of an Arandelle Winter.

Snowflakes fly towards us in huge drifts as howling winds swirl between gum trees.

Mount Baw Baw snowboarder
Mount Baw Baw snowboarder 

It's a remarkable turnaround from the dreary conditions on our arrival to the Victorian ski resort town less than 24 hours earlier, where rain had eroded early season snowfall.

Weather changes quickly up here, and it pays to be prepared. That means snow chains and all the warm gear that you can carry, as this blizzard has taken temperatures down well below zero. It's hard to believe that Melbourne is just 2.5 hours away.

The short drive from Melbourne means one can be transported from concrete playground to winter wonderland in less than three hours – which is fantastic if your kids have building snowmen on their bucket list.

After a few obligatory snowball fights we race – as fast as one can race in 30 cm of snow – up to Baw Baw Ski Hire to be fitted with our boots and skis in time for our ski and snowboard lessons.

Mount Baw Baw bills itself as "safe, fun and affordable" and indeed, it's just the right size for first-timers, with the beginner slopes a short walk from the village and a 'magic carpet' lift to practice those scary first downhill runs. Lift ticket prices of just $75 for a weekend for adults and $50 for kids make it one of the cheapest ski resorts in Australia - and while it won't be hosting the Winter Olympics anytime soon, the seven lifts and seventeen trails are adequate for most visitors.

Due to the midweek timing, we happily find ourselves in one-on-one lessons. My guide Steph lives the alpine life year round, flitting to Austria on Australia's off-season. She patiently assesses my skill level (comfortable beginner) before moving on to some exercises to improve my stance and technique.


My six-year-old reports that it's the best ski lesson she's had, with her instructor playing lots of games to improve her balance and control her speed.

Skiing is surprisingly hard work – even at beginner level. Within a couple of hours we're ready for a break and a hearty lunch. Ski-in café Kelly's fits the bill, with a woodfired stove and cosy atmosphere replete with vintage ski signs. Hot chocolates and pizza hit the spot, before we hit the toboggan field. One thing's for certain – you're never too old to toboggan!

The highlight of our stay is an incomparable husky sleigh ride through the snow-covered gum forest at sunset. Jake Greaves, owner of Howling Huskies, has been running dog sled tours at Mt Baw Baw since 2010. The children are fascinated by the dogs, many of whom have been rescued and re-homed with the pack. Our thrilling 15-minute dash through back country trails has us darting between trees and hurtling around corners, while Musher Jake yells commands like 'Gee' (right) and 'Haw' (left). As we pause for photographs Jake explains the different roles each dog has in the team, from the leader to the wing dogs and wheel dogs.

Their howls echo through the trees as the last of the day's light falls behind the snow-covered slopes. It really is an experience to remember.

As we are the last group of the day, Jake extends our ride all the way to The Village Restaurant for dinner.

The most upmarket eating option in the resort, The Village Restaurant features Gippsland produce and local wines. We finish our perfect alpine day dining on dishes such as beef eye fillets with chilled prawn remoulade with pinot noir from the nearby Cannibal Creek vineyard (yes, they also serve chicken nuggets and spaghetti Bolognese for the small ones).

The restaurant is known for its extensive views across the Latrobe Valley, but all we can see are swirling snow showers in the frosty moonlight. And that's just the way we like it.

Where to stay

Our home for two nights was Tanjil Creek Lodge, an immaculate boutique-style ski lodge right next to the Toboggan Park at Baw Baw.

The lodge offers a variety of rooms to suit couples, families or large groups and there is heated drying area for skis and gear. Guests share a large kitchen and comfortable lounge area, which has pretty views over the ski fields along with a roaring fire and great DVD collection for those chilly evenings.

There is no road access to most resort accommodation; however an oversnow luggage service is available through Tanjil Creek's owners.

Where to eat

Along with The Village Restaurant and Kelly's we also enjoyed casual meals at The Alpine Bistro and Hotel.  A cupboard full of board games keeps the kids amused while you enjoy a fireside beer or hot chocolate. The hotel is known for its themed evenings, the most famous being Wednesday Pot, Pool & Parma night!

How to get there

We took the main route from the Melbourne CBD via the M1 and the pretty historic town of Noojee. Stop off at the riverfront park which has play equipment, BBQs and a few resident ducks. From then it's a gorgeous but very windy route via Mt Baw Baw Tourist Road. If your children are in any way prone to carsickness then don't make our mistake – take the route the locals do, the Southface Rd via Moe (parts of this route are unpaved).

The writer and her family were guests of Mount Baw Baw resort.