STAY IN THE VILLAGE
Thredbo is popular with families for one main reason – everything is in walking distance, from the ski lifts to shops, restaurants and accommodation. This means when kids are cold, and wet and tired (which happens quickly in minus-zero temperatures), you can just walk back to your accommodation. It also makes it easy for parents of younger children to tag-team, with one hitting the slopes and the other resting with the children at home.
RIDE THE KOSCIUSZKO EXPRESS
This chairlift is a great way for non-skiers to get a feel for the mountain. It's also a massive thrill for the kids to explore Eagles Nest at its top and see sheets of ice covering the mountain streams trickling underneath. There are beautiful views of the village, as well as Jindabyne Lake and the mountains in Victoria. Outside the snow season, you can do the 6.5 kilometre walk to Mount Kosciuszko if weather permits.
EAT AT EAGLES NEST
This restaurant at the top of the Kosciuszko Express chairlift bills itself as the highest in Australia. You can enjoy a (pricey) hot chocolate and scones while gaping at the 270-degree view. The more casual Bullwheel Bar & Bistro has recently opened on the floor below.
THROW A SNOWBALL
Don't underestimate the magic appeal of snow for kids. It's a whole new sensory experience for them: the cold, the feel of snow in their hands, not to mention the satisfaction of rolling a snow ball and pelting their brother or sister. Thredbo has extended its snow play area, where you can build snowmen, make a snow angel, have a snowball fight, go tobogganing or tubing. You don't need a lift ticket and it's free.
LEARN TO SKI
The Friday Flat area of Thredbo is a perfect beginner's slope. By the end of the weekend our six-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were whizzing down without falling over, with big smiles. The rest of the resort has long and wide runs for cruising as well as more challenging black runs.
GO TO THREDBOLAND
My partner is a skier and found it really satisfying giving our kids the basics of the snow plough himself, over an intense couple of days. But the DIY instructor option requires great patience, while your beginner snow bunny falls down again, and again, and again (cue frustration and tears). My advice is to take at least a half-day or two of lessons to help you get the most out of your holiday, especially if it's a short one. Thredboland has ski programs for ages 3-6, with its own indoor area, a hot lunch, and visits from the Thredboland animals. The Thredboland kids ride up Friday Flat in their own cute snow train for practice runs. Lessons for three-year-old olds have a maximum of four participants so they get more attention. For 7-14 year olds there is the Freeriders program.
RIDE THE WATERSLIDE
This is a massive hit with kids when they need a break from skiing. The Thredbo Leisure Centre has an Olympic-sized heated pool, with a slide. They'll love Mission Inflatable, the blow-up obstacle course.
EAT SWISS FONDUE
For a novelty apres-ski dinner that kids won't forget, Candlelight Lodge does a fab Swiss fondue. Even if your hungry ski bunnies don't find the idea of dipping stale bread into a pot of melted cheese appetising, there is always the chocolate dessert fondue. Enough said.
EAT AUSTRIAN SCHNITZEL
It's the one meal that unites our family, from the toddler to his picky older siblings: schnitzel. The Black Bear Inn is a German/Austrian style lodge with a cosy restaurant that specialises in all things crumbed, with a kids menu. Their signature dessert is Belgian waffles with Violet Crumble ice-cream, which is surely deserved after a hard day hitting the slopes.
VISIT THE BAKERY
Right in the Village Square, this is a good way to take the edge off the kids' raging hunger after a day's skiing or snowboarding. They do a mean bacon and egg roll, as well as the usual pies and sausage rolls, and freshly baked loaves of bread. Want the healthiest and cheapest lunch in the whole village? Try their salad roll.
WATCH THE FIREWORKS
Every Saturday evening in Thredbo, fireworks and a flare run of skiers lights a trail down the mountain. It's a charming Thredbo tradition, where you can see riders snaking their way down the Supertrail with flares, followed by a fireworks display.
KIDS' FLARE RUNS
It's family fun night every Thursday when kids have their own flare run, accompanied by instructors, and have the thrill of skiing down Friday Flat with their own twinkling lights as their parents look on proudly. The Thredboland animals come out to play, and there are snowman-building competitions. Also watch out for the Kids Snow Festival during the school holidays, regular face-painting sessions as well as appearances from Snowy the Clown.
SOAK UP SOME HISTORY
The Thredbo Ski Museum has a small but fascinating collection of skis and resort paraphernalia dating back to the 19th century that will fascinate the kids. The early wooden skis with tortuous-looking metal bindings, and photos of women on skis wearing billowing long skirts, will have them entranced. There are also some very cool looking 1960s "snurfers", the predecessor to the snowboard, on display. The museum is open all winter (closed Mondays).
USE THE CHILD CARE
If you have a littlie who is too young to ski, you won't want them exposed to the cold for too long. But you also don't want them to go stir crazy in a hotel room all day. The answer is the Thredbo Child Care Centre, which looks after kids aged from six months to six years, with a half or full day. We left our toddler in the capable hands of the centre's staff and could relax on the slopes knowing he was warm, safe and having fun exploring all the new toys.
TAKE AN APARTMENT
The obvious choice for families, especially with younger kids, is self-contained accommodation. There is a variety of apartments, but for sheer convenience it's hard to beat Thredbo Alpine Apartments, which are right in the village and a short shuttle-bus ride to Friday Flat. Some of the accommodation in the village requires walking up multiple steps, so check out the location carefully if you have very young children. To keep costs down, it's worthwhile considering staying in Jindabyne or Lake Crackenback, and driving into the village to ski each day. There's also the Thredbo YHA, which is in the middle of the village and offers reasonably priced family packages (along with marshmallow toasting on an outdoor fire in the evenings).
STAY IN A LODGE
Another accommodation option is one of Thredbo's many lodges. These have a traditional, communal atmosphere and older kids will enjoy meeting other kids in the evenings to play cards and board games while the adults socialise over a schnapps. The beauty of a lodge is not having to cook at night. Try Candlelight Lodge, which has a European feel.
VISIT IN SPRING
Do consider going to Thredbo in September for spring skiing, when the crowds have thinned out and the rates are off-peak. As a further enticement to families, kids under 18 years ski and snowboard free (with a full paying adult) for three or five days in September at Thredbo. At its best, spring skiing means longer, warmer days with good snow – or it can mean slushy patches of mud. Check long-term weather reports.
EAT A DOUGHNUT
The best hot cinnamon doughnuts I've ever tried in my life come from the small kiosk at Friday Flat. It could be because they are genuinely superior. But more likely, it's that sinking your teeth into a soft, sugary pillow of doughnutty goodness is a sublime gourmet experience when you're cold and hungry.
BUY SOME SNOW SOUVENIRS
If there's one classic souvenir to buy the kids, it's a snow dome. The Zero Degrees Gift Shop in the Village Square has a range of them, along with other very tasteful vintage ski memorabilia and furnishings. For some apres-ski retail therapy, fashion boutique Birdnest has just opened in the village with a range of stylish winter threads.
HAVE A RUB DOWN
When your leg muscles can't take it any more, it's time to book into the Denman Day Spa to be pummelled back to life with a sports or remedial massage. Then you'll live to ski another day.
The writer was a guest of Thredbo Alpine Village.